Bisson Frères: Reaching for Heaven

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Le Mont-Blanc et Glacier des Bossons
Le Mont-Blanc et Glacier des Bossons

The Bisson brothers, Louis-Auguste (1814-1876) and Auguste-Rosalie (1826-1900) were some of the best known French photographers of their day.

The elder brother worked as an architect for the city of Paris and his younger brother worked for their father, who was a painter by trade. Their first foray together was in a firm set up by their father, Bisson Pére et Fils, that specialized in daguerreotype portraiture. In the early 1850s, after switching to the negative/positive process, they began photographing the works of Rembrandt and Durer, then turned to architectural photography. The brothers made large prints of historic monuments from all over Europe. These prints went into the making of "Reproductions photographiques des Plus Beaux Types d'Architecture", that was released in installments spanning the years 1853-1862.

Cathedrale d'Amiens
Cathedrale d'Amiens

The Bisson Fréres gained fame making large scale photographs of the glaciers of the Alps. These were exhibited at the Société Francaise de Photographie, an organization of which they were founding members.

In 1860, the brothers accompanied Napoleon III to Chamonix on a photographic expedition to commemorate the reuniting of Savoy to France. Although they did not make it to the summit of Mont Blanc on this journey, Auguste would take the first photograph from the summit in 1861.

The photographs taken of Mont Blanc and other alpine views made up an album they published of mountain photography, "Haute-Savoie, Le Mont Blanc et Ses Glaciers: Souvenir du Voyage de M. M. L'Imperatrice", (Paris) . By 1864 the brothers' partnership had dissolved due to changing tastes and a new demand for portrait photography.