Collection: Charles Cros

Charles Cros (1842–1888) was as much Renaissance man as he was poète maudit. A bohemian poet who drank with Verlaine and at one point provided housing to Rimbaud, he also developed the comic monologue as a theatrical genre, and invented both the phonograph (which he named the “paléophone”) and color photography (though he failed to patent either before Thomas Edison or Louis Ducos du Hauron), among other such inventions as a non-metallic battery and a musical stenographer. “The freshness of his intelligence was such that no object of desire seemed utopian to him a priori,” André Breton wrote of him, adding: “The pure playfulness of certain wholly whimsical portions of Cros’s work should not obscure the fact that at the center of some of his most beautiful poems a revolver is leveled straight at us.”