Lisa and Mark Hellman, in a yearlong, top-to-bottom-renovation, restored this 106-year-old home to its former glory, creating a pastoral family retreat in upstate New York. See before and after photos of their intensive restoration and decorating.
Pierre-Yves Mahé and Jean-Louis Marignier started excavations in the old Niépce laboratory-workshop, so as to restore the room back to the conditions known by Niépce. Different labs analyzed the covering of walls and floors. They confirmed Marignier’s theory, which presumed that the window from which “le point de vue” was shot, had actually been repositioned by 70cm from today’s window.
Lifting up the present floor boards, they not only found the actual floor Niépce used to walk on, but also the exact position of the former window.
The ensuing restoration of the Niépce House was the starting point of a major project to raise awareness of Niépce, his life and inventions.
The Bourbon Restoration was the period of French history following the fall of Napoleon in 1814 until the July Revolution of 1830. The brothers of executed Louis XVI of France came to power and reigned in highly conservative fashion, and exiled supporters of the monarchy returned to France. They were nonetheless unable to reverse most of the changes made by the French Revolutionand Napoleon. At the Congress of Vienna they were treated respectfully, but had to give up all the territorial gains made since 1789.
King Louis XVI of the House of Bourbon had been overthrown and executed during the French Revolution (1789–1799), which in turn was followed by Napoleon as ruler of France. A coalition of European powers defeated Napoleon in the War of the Sixth Coalition, ended the First Empire in 1814, and restored the monarchy to the brothers of Louis XVI. The Bourbon Restoration lasted from (about) 6 April 1814 until the popular uprisings of the July Revolution of 1830. There was an interlude in spring 1815—the “Hundred Days”—when the return of Napoleon forced the Bourbons to flee France. When Napoleon was again defeated by the Seventh Coalition they returned to power in July.
During the Restoration, the new Bourbon regime was a constitutional monarchy, unlike the absolutist Ancien Régime, and so it had some limits on its power. The period was characterized by a sharp conservative reaction, and consequent minor but consistent occurrences of civil unrest and disturbances. It also saw the reestablishment of the Catholic Church as a major power in French politics.
Spéos Paris Photographic Institute presents a 11-minute film on the Nicéphore Niépce House. In 2000, this film premiered at the open-air roman theater at the “Rencontres Internationales de la Photographie (RIP)” in Arles; it was nominated in 2001 at the International Scientific Film Festival in Orsay, as well as in 2002 at the 7th research film festival in Nancy. It was also shown in 2003 at the international congress dedicated to Nicéphore Niépce, “At First Light”, organized by the Getty Research Institute and the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center in Austin, Texas.
The eras of the French Revolution and Napoleon brought a series of major changes to France which the Bourbon Restoration did not reverse. First of all, France became highly centralized, with all decisions made in Paris. The political geography was completely reorganized and made uniform. France was divided into more than 80 departments, which have endured into the 21st century. Each department had an identical administrative structure, and was tightly controlled by a prefect appointed by Paris. The complex multiple overlapping legal jurisdictions of the old regime had all been abolished, and there was now one standardized legal code, administered by judges appointed by Paris, and supported by police under national control. The Catholic Church lost all its lands and buildings during the Revolution, and these were sold off or came under the control of local governments. The bishop still ruled his diocese (which was aligned with the new department boundaries), and communicated with the pope through the government in Paris. Bishops, priests, nuns and other religious people were paid salaries by the state. All the old religious rites and ceremonies were retained, and the government maintained the religious buildings. The Church was allowed to operate its own seminaries and to some extent local schools as well, although this became a central political issue into the 20th century. Bishops were much less powerful than before, and had no political voice. However, the Catholic Church reinvented itself and put a new emphasis on personal religiosity that gave it a hold on the psychology of the faithful. Education was centralized, with the Grand Master of the University of France controlling every element of the entire educational system from Paris. New technical universities were opened in Paris which to this day have a critical role in training the elite.
The old aristocracy had returned, and recovered much of the land they owned directly. However they completely lost all their old seigneurial rights to the rest of the farmland, and the peasants were no longer under their control. The old aristocracy had dallied with the ideas of the Enlightenment and rationalism. Now the aristocracy was much more conservative, and much more supportive of the Catholic Church. For the best jobs, meritocracy was the new policy, and aristocrats had to compete directly with the growing business and professional class. Anti-clerical sentiment became stronger than ever before, but was now based in certain elements of the middle class and indeed the peasantry as well. The great masses of the French people were peasants in the countryside, or impoverished workers in the cities. They gained new rights, and a new sense of possibilities. Although relieved of many of the old burdens, controls, and taxes, the peasantry was still highly traditional in its social and economic behavior. Many eagerly took on mortgages to buy as much land as possible for their children, so debt was an important factor in their calculations. The working class in the cities was a small element, and had been freed of many restrictions imposed by medieval guilds. However France was very slow to industrialize, and much of the work remained drudgery without machinery or technology to help. France was still localized, especially in terms of language, but now there was an emerging French nationalism that showed its national pride in the Army and foreign affairs.