When Pierre Yves Petit (1886-1969) was 12, he bought a camera with
100 francs he "borrowed" from his father without his permission. Pierre
was reprimanded, but allowed to keep the camera. In the period after
World War I, there was a big increase in French tourism and a
corresponding increase in the demand for postcards to memorialize one's
visits. Mr. Petit, using the pseudonym Yvon, took exquisite postcard
photographs of Paris that he had run off in England on a gravure press
in lots of 10,000. Editions d'Art Yvon was a one-man operation, with Mr.
Petit taking pictures, ordering postcards and selling them to souvenir
shops and newsstands.
Petit's city is a place of civility
and romantic beauty; of booksellers by the Seine and flower sellers
outside the parks and on the bridges; of river barges, palaces,
churches, fountains, monuments and cathedrals. He photographed at
sunrise and sunset when there would be dramatic shadows, or when clouds
and mist gave the city a sense of atmosphere.
He shot from atop Notre Dame with
gargoyles in the foreground and Paris's rooftops fading away in the
distance. He juxtaposed silhouetted statues with the Eiffel Tower. He
took pictures of women in broad-brimmed hats boating in the Bois de
Boulogne. It is every cliche of Paris, but real, the way you want it to