FAH101H1 Lecture Notes - Lecture 10: Henri Le Secq, Albumen Print, Notre Dame De Paris

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Published on 14 Apr 2013
March 28, 2013
Lecture 10
missions héliographiques (photographic missions)
Edouard, Denis Baldus,
Maison carrée à Nimes, 1851
Salted print
-he travelled around the
country photographing ancient
and medieval monuments
-the latter image you see
another building in the
-in the first photograph you
don't see people or other
-in the first image he blanks out
the urban qualities around the
-a dilemma photographers were faced with, on one hand there is the desire to create
the past and it requires a certain aestheticism similar to the way a museum displays
certain kids of objects, on the other hand it was also necessary to produce useful
data about the state of the historical monuments and their relationship to the
cityscape around it, two very different objectives in the two images of the same
-the two objectives start to blend together in one image
this is a Roman temple in the southern French City Nimes. Built around 20 BCE, it is
remarkably well-preserved example of a Vitruvian temple. After Thomas Jefferson
saw it he sent instructions to stop construction on the Virginia State Capital until he
could dispatch revised plans inspired by the Roman monument. Taken at an angle
encompasses both façade and side, emerging from the continuum of the background
buildings visible on the right, left, and through the columns. Baldus went to
Burgundy -Nilsen
Baldus, Tour magne, nimes, 1853
-no present day relation of the monument to its site
At the Tour Magne in Nîmes, Baldus filled the frame with the ancient
Roman tomb, providing no context beyond the pebble-strewn
foreground. The photograph's aesthetic and human interest lie in the
contrast between the monument's geometric structure and the
irregularity of its ruined silhouette, in the modulation of highlights,
middle tones, and deep shadows, in the variety of texture found on the
deteriorating masonry, and in the battle between the builder's desire for
an imperishable memorial, the modern restorer's efforts to preserve the
past, and the vegetation sprouting inexorably from its high walls.
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March 28, 2013
Auguste Mestral, Sculpture of virgin and child, Notre dame, Paris, 1851
-Mestral pictures do in a very direct way what happens in a more conceptual way in
Baldus’ images, Baldus removes the surrounding elements of the site of the
monuments and allows the monument to rise in an ethereal way, where Mestral
does the opposite
-Mestral was in charge of sculptural monuments
-it is less a preserved object than it is a fabricated one
-a simulation of history that is about to be swapped in, but before that happens
Mestral recognizes the transition, he captures the sculpture while it is still
earthbound and before it is canonized
-he recognizes how powerful and distorted it is
Mestral, Angel of the passion, Saint chapels, Paris,
-Salted paper print from paper negative
-The formal outcome is that when you take the strange
blurriness of the sleeping man and the white tarp behind
the angel, the right side of the picture turns into a spiritual
-There is no question that Mestral is interested in, both the
very concrete and material and the very ethereal, almost
-That combination elevates it from what could have been a
very pedestrian image
Serendipity occasionally aids the muses, as here, where a
worker's fatigue, a gentle breeze, and a bit of sunshine have
helped one of the medium's early masters achieve something far beyond his original
intention. Mestral was commissioned by the sculptor Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy
Dechaume to document one of his angels of the passion before it was lifted to a high and
inaccessible perch at the base of the flèche of the Sainte-Chapelle. Working at the
restoration site, the photographer strung up a white canvas to provide a neutral
background for the sculpture; however, during the long exposure (perhaps ten or fifteen
minutes) that drapery blew in the breeze, softening its edges and folds in a blur of light.
As a result, one has the sense that the sculpted angel has come to life and descended a
beam of light to appear to the sleeping workman in a dreamlike the angel appearing to
Jacobwhile his companion remains oblivious to the vision taking place a few feet
Henri le Secq, Large Figures on the North Porch, Chartres Cathedral, 1852
Salted paper print from paper negative
-the figures seem like they are strangely floating free of the columns they are
attached to
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March 28, 2013
-to the left of the image there is a strange blur, but to the right there is an amazing
sense of detail of the columns and the pedestal that the figure stands on
-goes from completely abstract to very detailed, it could be how Le Secq combines
the two objectives
He was primarly active in photography during the 1850’s working for the
Commission des Monuments Historiques as of 1851 in the area North and East of
Paris. Le Secq went to the Champagne. -Nilsen
Charles Clifford, Principal Doorway of the
Carthusian Monastery, Burgos, 1853
Albumen silver print from paper negative
-Shows a statue and animates it
-Initially we expect to be greeted by a human, but
instead it is an immobile statue
-It is a strange, and de-familiarizing effect that
Clifford wants to record
At the Carthusian monastery in Burgos, Clifford
apparently had the treasured seventeenth-century
painted wood statue of the order's founder, Saint
Bruno, moved from its usual place in a small lateral
chapel to the front steps, where he had sufficient light
and space to photograph it properly. Clifford's theatrical staging, the lifelike quality
of the sculpture, and the harmonizing quality of photography yield an image that is
easily mistaken for a miraculous vision of the saint himself.
Clifford, Courtyard of the House Known as Los Infantes, Zaragoza, 1860
Albumen silver print from glass negative
-there is a sense of an image very rich in detail
-this would make a useful document for studying the detail and architecture
-Clifford pulls us away from the realm of documentation into a world of doubles, to
the right of the image there is a white curtain and the bottom of the curtain obscures
some detail, and what the detail is, is the head of a sculpted figure, so there is a very
strange cloth obscuring the head of one of the figures, and a diagonal right triangle
of shadow that draws us to that space, while the image serves a preservation
function and gives good detail about the sculpture of this monument, but Clifford
sacrifices this a little bit in order to give this strange effect and combines the inside
and outside, concrete with abstract
Envisioning urban design
Jean-Louis Ernest Meissonier, The Barricade, 1848
-group of slaughtered figures with tattered clothes, and in front of the figures are
stones or small boulders as well it has taken place in a back alley a particular kind of
-the painting gives us a sense of all the problems of Paris as a civilized world
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