Anonymous Chateau de Blois (Rare Back View)
Medium Daguerreotype (Full plate)
Mount in glass mount
Photo Date 1845c Print Date 1845c
Dimensions 7-3/16 x 5-1/4 in. (184 x 134 mm)
Photo Country France
Photographer Country France
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Size refers to the image that is showing.
This photograph first appeared in a small auction in Brussels. It has the beautiful blue color of the first daguerreotypes. The use of a large plate daguerreotype and the mastery of photographic chemistry are signs of the work of a professional or a talented amateur, whose name remains to be discovered.
Such expertise could indicate that the photographer came from Paris, where more accomplished practitioners could be found.
There are several strong possibilities, one of which is Hippolyte Bayard, who moved to follow the restoration of the Cha?teau de Blois between 1843 and 1845 at the request of architect Duban. We would date this daguerreotype in the last year of that range. Bayard is considered one of the founders/discoverers of photography.
Fr. Alphonse Fortier also photographed the Chateau extensively and over a long period of time. He was known to have begun his photography career taking daguerreotypes. He is another strong possibility as the author of this image. Fortier exhibited at the 1856 Exposition de Buxelles and the Societe Francaise de Photographie's (S.F.P.) 1857 and 1867 expositions. After making daguerreotypes, he used albumen and collodion glass negatives. Blanquart Evrard published many of his images.
This daguerreotype captured a moment when the facade of the castle already appears in its newly restored splendor, while the latest development work can also be seen. The news of the end of the initial construction spread to all lovers of fine arts in France, and the photographer here is certainly aware of a this major event. This image shows the prestigious and emblematic restoration, and shows the new work to protect a threatened architectural heritage.
The plate was never cleaned. The old light abrasions on the surface, which are due to plate storage prior to mounting under glass, do not affect the beauty of the image. Presented with adequate lighting, the image is very bright and the details of the subject appear very precise.
We must remember that over time, the destruction of daguerreotypes was massive. The unique nature of each daguerreotype image is particularly valuable now. Public collections retain only a few dozen of these great daguerreotypes and virtually none of this important architectural wonder. Only one other plate in this size is known of a slightly closer image of this view, and resides in the collection of the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. Further research is progressing on the identity of the photographer in both examples.
The Royal Château de Blois is located in the Loir-et-Cher département in the Loire Valley, in France. The residence of several French kings, it is also the place where Joan of Arc went in 1429 to be blessed by the Archbishop of Reims before departing with her army to drive the English from Orléans. Built in the middle of the town that it effectively controlled, the château of Blois comprises several buildings constructed from the 13th to the 17th century around the main courtyard.
Its most famous piece of architecture is the magnificent spiral staircase in the François I wing. In 1841, under the direction of King Louis-Philippe, the Château de Blois was classified as an historic monument, and so became a favorite subject of early French photographers.
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