The legendary photographer Jacques Henri Lartigue did not lack for subjects when gifted his first camera in 1902. Neighbours described his family as a “curious lot”, perhaps not unfairly, judging by the carefree, haute-bourgeois lifestyle captured in a new book of the young Lartigue’s images. Family members are forever in motion, leaping across furniture or grinning at the helm of a precariously homemade fleet of sleds, go-karts and gliders — a foreshadowing of Lartigue’s later role, chronicling the cars, fashions and frenetic progress of the 20th century.
Louise Baring’s collection concludes in 1914, when war brought the whimsical spirit of the belle époque to an abrupt end. Fortunately, as a subsequent photographic career defined by stylish insouciance goes to show, it is not an upbringing that Lartigue ever forgot.
‘Lartigue: The Boy and the Belle Époque’ is published by Thames & Hudson
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