Stunning Black and White Photographs Captured the Spirit of Early 20th Century Athletics

My nanny Dudu, 40, on rue Cortambert in Paris, 1904.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Jacques Henri Lartigue was fascinated by the ascent of sport in the early 20th century as a fashionable pastime for the middle classes, and was himself a keen sportsman. Lartigue’s entirely unposed photographs, presented album-style in this gorgeous, luxurious and delightful volume, capture both the joyous exuberance of amateur sports––racing, skiing, tennis, gymnastics, hang gliding––and the particular character of its popularity in the first half of the 20th century.

h/t: vintag.es

Oléo, Rouzat, August 1908.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Lartigue is an absolute master at conveying the dynamism of the human body at play––the peculiar shapes it can contort into, and the gestures that can express anything from easy nonchalance to fierce focus. These photographs also serve as a historical catalogue of the paraphernalia and smart casual clothing associated with each sport.

The ZYX24 takes off while Piroux, Zissou, Georges, Louis, Dédé and Robert make there attempt as well in Rouzat, September 1910.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Jacques Henri Lartigue (1894–1986) was a French photographer and painter, most famous for his photographs of the leisure activities of France’s middle and upper classes. An avid photographer from the age of seven, Lartigue gained fame for his photo albums, which provide a comprehensive chronicle of the twentieth century in France and abroad, and for his official portraits.

Robert, the lightest, is chosen to test-fly the “Pic no. 3” in Rouzat, September 1910.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

My cousin Dédé in Rouzat, 1911.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Zissou leans against the wind from Amerigo’s propeller in Buc, Nov. 9, 1911.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Grand Prix de L’Automobile Club de France, 1912.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

The great racer Nazzaro signals to Wagner to accelerate, Grand Prix de l’A.C.F., June 26, 1912.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

My cousin Simone Roussel in Marly Forest, 1913.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

My cousin Simone and Golo in Marly Forest, March 1913.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Charly, Rico and Sim in Rouzat, September 1913.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Training of Suzanne Lenglen, Nice, November 1915.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Malvina in Chamonix, January 1918.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Bibi and Lolo in Paris, 1921.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Cannes, May 1927.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Cannes, May 1927.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Dawn in Hyères, September 1929.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Coco at l’Altana, the Weisswellers’ estate in Antibes, March 1936.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

Deauville, June 1938.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

World ski-jumping championships in Juan-les-Pins, September 1938.

Jacques Henri Lartigue/Ministère de la Culture-France/AAJHL

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