The large sphinx heads ornamenting this house, built in 1799, reveal the influence of Napoleon Bonaparte's recent Egyptian campaign. Other eclectic elements, such as the decorative frieze of Roman figures above the sphinxes and the vaguely Moorish arched trefoil windows on this building, also crept into urban architecture in Paris at this time.
Eugène Atget revealed his interest in historic architecture in a letter describing the inventory of negatives that he hoped to sell to the École des Beaux-Arts: "I have amassed . . . artistic documents of fine civil architecture" from the 1500s through the 1800s, "old hotels, historic or curious houses, . . . fine facades." Inevitably, Atget also recorded bystanders in his urban photographs; they became fundamental elements of the final images. When taking this picture, Atget and his cumbersome tripod-mounted view camera clearly drew the attention of four men in front of the street-level restaurant.