Charles Garnier in his on-site office during the building of the Paris Opera

Artist(s) : DURANDELLE Louis-Émile
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In 1861, to the astonishment of many, the young architect Charles Garnier (1825-1898) won the competition for the construction of a new opera house. This construction was decided by Napoleon III shortly after the attack, on 14 January 1858, in which Orsini tried to assasinate the imperial couple on their way to the Opera in rue Pelletier. After construction was complicated by problems of land and foundations, budgets as well as political criticism, as well as interruptions due to the war of 1870-1871, the opera house was finally inaugurated on 5 January 1875. A first inauguration had taken place on 15 August 1867 for the main façade alone: when asked by Empress Eugenie about the style of the work, Garnier is said to have replied that it was “Napoleon-III style”.

Charles Garnier had a temporary agency built on the rue Neuve des Mathurins in order to oversee the buidling work as much as possible on the site: this photo by Durandelle shows the interior.

Louis-Emile Durandelle (1839-1917) was a French photographer who collaborated with many architects, including Charles Garnier, Édouard Corroyer, Ambroise Baudry, Paul Abadie, Edmond Guillaume, Juste Lisch and Jean Louis Pascal. His building site albums offer a rare photographic documentation. For example, his photos of the construction site of the Opera de Garnier are particularly well-known (fon the website of the Bibliothèque Nationale de France).

Charles Garnier in his on-site office during the building of the Paris Opera
Charles Garnier and other architects in his workshop for the new Paris Opera], photo L.-E. Durandelle, c.1870, ENSB-A

See a copy of this image on the website of the MET, New-York.

Date :
Technique :
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Place held :
Ecole National des Beaux-Arts
Photo credit :
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