France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

Paintings reveal what people in 1900 thought the year 2000 would look like

Lots of the ideas involve mechanized devices and flying while others, strangely, involve people interacting with marine life

Ana Swanson
Wednesday 08 September 2021 15:07
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There are few things as fascinating as seeing what people in the past dreamed about the future.

"France in the Year 2000" is one example. The series of paintings, made by Jean-Marc Côté and other French artists in 1899, 1900, 1901 and 1910, shows artist depictions of what life might look like in the year 2000. The first series of images were printed and enclosed in cigarette and cigar boxes around the time of the 1900 World Exhibition in Paris, according to the Public Domain Review, then later turned into postcards.

Lots of their ideas involve mechanized devices, flying, or a combination of the two. Some, strangely, involve people interacting in a very close and personal way with marine life. As Open Culture points out, however, there are no images of space travel.

Some of the portraits are fantastic -- swashbucklers riding on giant seahorses, anyone? But others are actually surprisingly accurate visions of our current era, including farming machines, helicopters, and what looks like a precursor to the new robot vaccum, the iRobot Roomba vacuum:

France in the Year 2000

There is something vaguely familiar about these visions of mechanized farming, for example:

France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

Perhaps this is the precursor to the motorhome?

France in the Year 2000

However, some of the other machines didn't quite come to pass:

France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

The series also features a great assortment of flying machines and devices, including a helicopter:

France in the Year 2000

One drawing features an airship, which were being used at the time, but fell out of favor after the Hindenburg disaster in 1937:

France in the Year 2000

The series imagines small winged planes or devices being used by cabbies, postmen, police, firemen and hunters:

France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

Here's their conception of a "war plane" and "war cars":

France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

Strangely, the series also includes some fairly far-out examples of people cavorting with marine life:

France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000
France in the Year 2000

And finally, the "Whale bus," which really ought to be a thing by now:

France in the Year 2000

© Washington Post

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