Wednesday, 15 December 2010

Postcard of the Day No. 42, Havre-Caumartin

The subject of today’s card is a massive wedge of masonry of the sort that typically command Parisian street intersections. This one is here to inspire public confidence in the insurance policies of la Mutuelle Européenne. Convinced that reality can always be improved on, American postcard publishers were as enthusiastic about re-touching images as the French were reluctant, making this a rare exception. The foreground figures look distinctly posed and costumed to give a good impression of the clientele. Around the Métro entrance in the detail below, the faces in the crowd reflect some fairly brutal treatment from the artist’s brush.

Below is another view of the same Métro entrance – Havre-Caumartin. The flooding that overwhelmed Paris for nearly four weeks in early 1910 rapidly penetrated the tunnels and stations on the Métro network and led to bizarre scenes such as this where the entrance staircases were transformed into slipways descending to subterranean lagoons. The only beneficiaries of all this misery were the publishers of postcards, the volume of their production being only slightly exceeded by the volume of floodwater.

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