Montagnes Russes (Russian Mountains), 1889

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Roller coasters were a recently developed diversion in 1889, and this one in the Boulevard des Capucines was open to adventure-seekers every day of the week. The ride involved an actual element of danger, given its lack of modern restraining devices. Journalist Camille Debans, however, scoffed at the daring of those who rode this coaster. In his guide to Paris, he recalled how men and women stood during rides on an 1817 Parisian roller coaster, sometimes tumbling to their deaths. By comparison, the riders depicted by Jules Chéret "sit in a bourgeois manner on benches" and finally disembark "with a trace of vain satisfaction, as if worthy of admiration for the danger faced." Indeed, the bright smiles worn by Chéret's riders emphasize the fun of the ride rather than its hazards. But whatever their degree of risk, the intense experience of roller coasters thrilled riders into losing themselves completely and living only in the moment.

Montagnes Russes (Russian Mountains)
Artist Life
(Paris, Nice), 1836–1932
Accession Number
Kate Butler Peterson, Minneapolis; given to MIA, 2010.
Catalogue Raisonne
Broido 342; Maindron 275
Curator Approved

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