What 19th Century French Artists Thought The Year 2000 Would Look Like

Published April 12, 2017
Updated March 5, 2018

If you were a French dandy living at the cusp of the 20th century, the future looked bright. How bright? Read on to find out.

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The ways we envision the future are contingent upon our present contexts. And in late 19th century France, an industrial boom had artists anticipating, well, playing croquet underwater.

At the cusp of the 20th century, Jean-Marc Côté and a few other visionary French artists began to speculate as to the coming century might have in store for them and their country. Côté and company mapped these speculations out in a series of drawings, which they would display at the World Exhibition in Paris.

Subsequent use as postcards and cigarette and cigar box inserts would increase the drawings' shelf life, though the prints were never commercially distributed. In fact, Isaac Asimov purchased the only known set of postcards for use in his nonfiction work Futuredays: A Nineteenth Century Vision of the Year 2000.

For more on French history and lifestyle, see how France envisions the work week and these photos of the French Resistance in action.

Erin Kelly
An All That’s Interesting writer since 2013, Erin Kelly focuses on historic places, natural wonders, environmental issues, and the world of science. Her work has also been featured in Smithsonian and she’s designed several book covers in her career as a graphic artist.