The Boy and the Belle Époque


An exploration of Jacques Henri Lartigue’s early photography and a vivid portrayal of fin-de-siècle France.


ISBN: 9780500021309 Category:

Louise Baring


As a little boy of seven or eight, Jacques Henri Lartigue was given his first camera, and soon was developing his own photographs. Born into a prosperous family, from childhood Lartigue acutely observed the social rituals of the upper echelons of society through his photography. The hand-held Kodak camera, first introduced in 1888, granted the young photographer flexibility to capture the fine details of eccentric family members at home, the elaborate social parade in the Bois de Boulogne, on the beach in Normandy and beyond. Classic images of motor cars and high fashion sit alongside previously unpublished photographs from the Lartigue archive. These images of family beau-monde and demi-monde life are not only evidence of a prodigious talent, but also offer an intimate, adolescent perspective of Belle-Époque Paris, the world of Proust, Debussy and the Nabis, before the outbreak of the First World War.

At a young age Lartigue mastered the medium of photography: this exploration of his extraordinary childhood is interwoven with a social and cultural portrait of the Belle Époque. Bonnard and Vuillard used the camera as a reference point for painting, Eugène Atget documented the architecture of the old Paris ahead of its developers, but Lartigue was the first to harness the immediacy of the snapshot, often capturing his subjects mid-gesture as in real life, creating a new visual language for the 20th century.

Additional information

Weight 806 g
Dimensions 19.8 x 24.8 cm
Publisher name Thames and Hudson Ltd
Publication date 26 March 2020
Number of pages 192
Format Hardback
Dimensions 19.8 x 24.8 cm
Weight 806 g


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Louise Baring has written for The Economist, the Independent on Sunday Review, Vogue, and the Daily Telegraph. She is the author of several books on photography: Martine Franck; Norman Parkinson: A Very British Glamour; Emmy Andriesse: Hidden Lens; and Dora Maar: Paris in the Time of Man Ray, Jean Cocteau, and Picasso.