Early 20th Century photographer Leon Gimpel’s images present a past that seems almost unbelievable in its richness, closer to a Disneyland recreation of history than the flat black and white representation we’re familiar with from high school textbooks and History Channel specials. Constantly innovating, Gimpel adopted autochrome color photography earlier than most, snapped the first shots from aboard an airplane, and led the field in exciting new directions with his experiments with nighttime photography. His work covers a diverse array of subjects from adorably melancholy images of children playing amidst war to grandiose portraits of dirigibles and hot air balloons. Through his contributions to the magazine L’Illustration, Gimpel helped popularize science by vividly illustrating technological advancements of the day from the spread of neon to the birth of air travel.
Sadly, Gimpel’s work is sorely underrepresented on the Internet (he doesn’t even have a Wikipedia page– quelle horror!), but check out this post with some gorgeous Gempel photos form a random Russian LiveJournal.