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Charles Chusseau-Flaviens, Photographer

May 2, 2018
by the gentle author

Petticoat Lane

Photographer Charles Chusseau-Flaviens came to London from Paris and took these pictures, reproduced courtesy of George Eastman House, before the First World War – mostly likely in 1911. This date is suggested by his photograph of the proclamation of the coronation of George V which took place in that year. Very little is known of Chusseau-Flaviens except he founded one of the world’s first picture agencies, located at 46 Rue Bayen,  and he operated through the last decade of the nineteenth and first decade of the twentieth century. Although their origin is an enigma, Chusseau-Flaviens’ photographs of London and especially of Petticoat Lane constitute a rare and surprisingly intimate vision of a lost world.

Petticoat Lane

Sandys Row with Frying Pan Alley to the right

Proclamation of the coronation of George V, 1911

Crossing sweeper in the West End

Policeman on the beat in Oxford Circus, Regent St

Beating the bounds for the Tower of London, Trinity Sq

Boats on the Round Pond, Kensington Gardens

Suffragette in Trafalgar Sq

Photographs courtesy George Eastman House

You may also like to take a look at

Charles W Cushman’s London

Dennis Anthony’s Petticoat Lane

C A Mathew’s Spitalfields

5 Responses leave one →
  1. May 2, 2018

    Amazing selection!

  2. May 2, 2018

    I love everything about this. Elbows up on my desk, I am squinting at every detail. For example, just notice the final shot of the Suffragette. In one frame we have the central heroine, but also lots of typography (oh boy, the drop cap “D” in the upper corner….), vintage transport, a varied row of houses that look like books on a shelf, the (ahem) scatter rug in the foreground obviously brought from home, the hustle/bustle of people hopping aboard — and that gent with the tightly-wrapped umbrella looking right at the photographer as the heroine’s words ring in his ears.

    Frozen in time? — No. Teeming with life!
    And I learned a new-to-me term today: Beating the bounds.

    GA, you’re the best.

  3. Paul Ridgway permalink
    May 3, 2018

    The 14th frame down shows: Beating the bounds for the Tower of London, Trinity Sq

    Any idea where this is as there today no —– Courts off Trinity Square?
    Not sure where HJ Griffin, Wine Merchant, had premises.

    I believe the bounds (boundaries) were beaten with willow wands by choristers from All Hallows Barking – by-the-Tower

  4. Chris Webb permalink
    May 5, 2018

    I have seen these photos before but I can’t remember where. At the end of the 19th century photographic technology advanced to the point where it was possible to take what were known as “instantaneous” photographs, ie with a shutter speed of fractions of a second rather than many seconds. This transformed photography as it was no longer necessary to take those stiff and formally posed portraits that we all associate with the Victorians. The people in the second image are actually smiling. Was that allowed back then?

    Photos like these are tantalising. They’re just ordinary everyday people like us going about their daily lives, but in a world that is partly familiar but partly alien.

  5. Chris Webb permalink
    May 5, 2018

    Some of the posters in the second photo are in Hebrew. Can anybody read them?

    Like Paul Ridgway I was trying to identify the exact location of the beating of the bounds photo. The city boundary is the road running in a semicircle round the north of Trinity Square, and my best guess is that it is on the east side on the site of the current citizenM Hotel. Perhaps though it might be on the site of the PLA building which began building in 1912, shortly after these photos were taken.

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