Jean-Jacques Heilmann Town of Pau
Medium Salt print from wet plate negative
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1855c Print Date 1855c
Dimensions 7-1/2 x 10 in. (191 x 254 mm)
Photo Country France
Photographer Country France
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
A group of three men and a young girl in front of a shoe and boot store on the square at Pau in the Pyrenees.
Born in 1822 in Mulhouse, Alsace, J. J. Heilmann made his living as a photographer, publisher, and printer in Pau, a town in southern France near the northern border of the Pyrenees. Most of his work was produced between 1852-57. Using rapid collodion plates perfected by Adolphe Bertsch and Farnham Maxwell Lyte, Heilmann also made calotypes and ivory types of considerable sophistication. He came up with processes to color photographs and to enlarge prints that he patented in 1853.
Heilmann frequently photographed the landscape of the Pyrenees, although he also did portraits, urban scenes, and photographic reproductions of paintings of Alsace and Pau. His images often resemble those of Lyte and John Stewart, British photographers whose scenes of man and nature were produced in the Pyrenees during the same era. Heilmann's photographs, however, have a more defined composition. His use of figures, animals, vehicles, and natural elements reveals an interest in depicting civilized man in a primitive setting. A founding member of the Société française de photographie, Heilmann was also affiliated with the Photographic Club of Great Britain. He exhibited his work at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris. He died in 1859 at the young age of 37.
He is in the Jammes and Janis book, The Art of French Calotype, and in the Brettle book, Paper and Light: The Calotype in France and Great Britain, 1839-1870. There is a variant of this image in the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art. See: Mironneau, Juliat, and Abadia, Pyrenees en Images, p.63 for another slight variant.
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