Charles Marville (Charles Francois Bossu) is best known for his photographs of Paris from the time when radical modernization was overtaking the city. His images document the medieval cobblestone streets of old Paris as well as the new infrastructure built by Baron Haussmann for Napoleon III.
Originally trained as an illustrator, Charles Marville took up photography in 1850 and gained praise with his intricate architectural studies and landscapes. In 1862, after establishing his reputation as skilled photographer, Charles Marville became an official photographer for the city of Paris and began chronicling the rapid changes taking place. He focused on older neighborhoods and winding streets that were soon to be destroyed, creating one of the only visual records of the old Paris that was quickly disappearing. Marville also captured many of the renovations and innovations introduced by Haussmann, including gas lamps, kiosks and public urinals.
Marville’s photographs are not only remarkable in their beauty, but also historically significant because they document the large-scale urban transformation that made Paris the city it is today.