Marquis de Rostaing (or Baldus) Church of the Madeleine, Paris
Medium Albumen print from waxed paper negative
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1855c Print Date 1860c
Dimensions 12-9/16 x 17-5/16 in. (320 x 440 mm)
Photo Country France
Photographer Country France
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
Signed by Rostaing in blue ink at bottom right recto, although Baldus published an identical image. Titled by Rostaing in blue in on bottom recto of mount. See: Daniel, Photographs of Edouard Baldus, pl.55. As Daniels notes in his book on Baldus, "...With his photograph of the neoclassical Church of the Madeleine, Baldus established a classic scheme of photographic representation. As if conceived as an ideal demonstration of two-point perspective, the photograph shows the edifice filling the picture plane, the structure in perfect three-quarter view, the horizon at midheight, the colonnade a rhythmic procession of measured units. It is difficult to imagine a photograph that would better fulfill its informational function. But Baldus's vision is not clinical; the row of saplings, the top-hatted gentleman seated on a bench, and the armature for temporary decorations all provide footnotes of secondary interest, while the architecture itself becomes a mesmerizing field of intricate detail and subtle light play."
One of Rostaing's predecessors fought in the American Revolution at Yorktown as a Colonel and commanded the regiment of Gatinois.
Rostaing himself was from Seillans, a commune in the Var department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region in southeastern France.
He was a student and friend of Edouard Baldus and there is some evidence that he traveled and photographed with his mentor in 1855 and 1856. He produced waxed paper negatives in the same grand format that Baldus did, some of the largest in Europe at the time. Most of his prints he made from these negatives are albumen prints. To further confuse the issue of authorship of certain images, some photographs signed by Baldus also bear the signature of the Marquis de Rostaing. Some of these are in the collection of the George Eastman House in Rochester. Rostaing also appears to have accompanied Baldus during the latter's photography trip to shoot his famed Paris-Lyon-Marseille (PLM) album for the train line.
Rostaing worked from the 1850s through 1860s. He photographed in southeastern France and the countryside near Nice, but he also photographed in Normandy in 1856, including the Cathedral at Rouen, and even Paris--probably with Baldus.
There is some question about when and how he died. Some reports say he died of cholera in 1870 in an epidemic that swept Seillans.
Rostaing's work is in the collections of the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art, George Eastman House and the Société Française de Photographie, among other institutions. He is mentioned by Malcolm Daniel in his book "The Photographs of Edouard Baldus", by Sylvie Aubenas in "Primitives of Photography", and by Beaugé in "Photography in Provence".
Provenance: Rostaing family; auction in Southern France.
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