Decoding Vintage Prints of Paris

This is one of a half-dozen prints we bought one afternoon at an antiques fair outside the Saint-Sulpice church in June 2013. Initially attracted by the view of the Tour St. Jacques, it was the lesser details on the river that caught our attention. The floating bathhouse for women (Bains des Dames) spoke of an important part of Paris life. And what is the story behind the sinking vessel in the foreground?

This view of the Canal de l’Ourcq also attracted me with its exaggerated perspective and height. I did not hesitate to put in the purchase pile.

Both engravings bore the inscription “A. Pugin Dirext.” immediately below the image. It meant that Pugin was not the artist, but the one who had supervised the work. The Paris-born Augustus Charles Pugin (1762–1832) was a renowned artist, writer on mediaeval architecture, and draftsman.

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