[PARIS]. Paris et Ses Environs 1856: Grand Album Représentant les Vues et les Monuments les plus curieux de Paris et les Sites les plus remarquables des Environs. Paris: Maison Martinet, [1856].

$ 9,800.00

Oblong folio, (11 1/8 x 15 inches). Tinted lithographed title page; 40 tinted lithographed plates, each with original tissue guard tipped in (occasional spotting, tissue guards slightly browned). Original publisher’s green cloth, elaborately decorated and lettered in gilt (worn).

First edition. Quite rare, with only 3 copies recorded by WorldCat. This lushly illustrated album of tinted lithographs is one of a series published between 1855 and 1861, and it reflects many of the changes in Paris’s landscape which came about as a result of Haussmann’s great renovation of the city. 1855 marked the arrival of the Paris World’s Fair. Napoleon III, newly Emperor and eager to prove himself, built the Palais de l’Industrie in an attempt to best London’s Crystal Palace, the centerpiece of her Great Exhibition in 1851. One of the plates here depicts the Palais de l’Industrie, with the blind-stamped notice: “H. Plun seul éditeur autorisé pour les vues du palais de l’Industrie 3.R. Garancière.” This building was later destroyed, to make way for the Grand Palais of the 1900 World’s Fair.

“From 1853 to 1870 as prefect of the Seine -- director of public works for the Paris region -- Haussmann energetically attacked and largely solved many of the ills caused by the rapid and tremendous growth of the commercial center and social lodestone of France. His urban design program was second to none in modern times. Demolishing some 12,000 structures, cutting 85 miles of new direct roadways through the city to replace 333 miles of meandering old ones, erecting imposing landmarks like the Opera and the Halles Centrales, revamping the antiquated and unhealthy water and sewage systems, increasing the number of street lights and sidewalks, and establishing parks equal to contemporary schemes in London and New York, Paris under Haussmann was in an almost constant state of construction upheaval.

“The broad, light-filled, tree-lined thoroughfares that became his hallmark perfectly illustrate the multiplicity of purpose that always underlay the efforts of this protean pragmatist. Haussmann’s boulevards, for the most part angled across existing streets and linked together at diagonals, served many different functions. They connected the city's new train terminals more efficiently, allowed the quick deployment of troops in case of revolts like those of recent memory in 1830 and 1848, and ‘disemboweled’ the troublesome neighborhoods where those rebellions traditionally fomented. They also permitted the more expedient transport of goods and services around town as the local economy shifted from small artisans working near their homes to an industrialized system spread over a wide area. Finally, they gave shape to the eight new arrondissements Haussmann added around the periphery of Paris, and set up an extendible matrix for future growth” (Martin Filler, The New York Times, 1991).