Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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[The Ascent of Mont Blanc]

Artist:
Auguste-Rosalie Bisson (French, 1826–1900)
Photography Studio:
Bisson Frères (French, active 1852–1863)
Date:
1861
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
Image: 39.6 x 23.7 cm (15 9/16 x 9 5/16 in.) Mount: 63 x 45.7 cm (24 13/16 x 18 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.54
Not on view
While the transport of photographic equipment and the manipulation of chemical solutions for the wet collodion process was never an easy task, no more audacious challenge was undertaken in the early history of photography than the ascent of Mont Blanc and the making of views at the summit of the highest peak in the Alps. Attempted unsuccessfully by the Bisson Frères in 1860, the goal was achieved by the younger Bisson the following year, aided by an experienced guide and twenty-five porters carrying his plates, cameras, chemicals, and portable darkroom tent. Notwithstanding the paralyzing cold, a blinding snowstorm, avalanches, and the expected nausea and vertigo of high-altitude exploration, the team reached the 15,781-foot summit on July 25, 1861. Bisson exposed three negatives.
It was only after his primary goal had been achieved that Bisson halted his descent in order to set up the tent and cameras once again, pose the figures in positions emblematic of their climb, and make pictures of the "ascent" (though the team's tracks are visible on the high snowy slope in the background). Bringing his Parisian clientele a virtual experience few would ever realize in fact, Bisson was one of many photographers whose explorations of the globe dramatically expanded the known world for nineteenth-century urban audiences.
Inscription: Blindstamp on print, recto BL: "FBF"; stamped in red ink on mount, recto BR: "Bisson Frères"; stamped in blue ink, mount verso, C: "BISSON FRERES PHOT[ILLEGIBLE]"
Auguste-Rosalie Bisson; [...]; [Harry H. Lunn, Washington, D.C.]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, February 3, 1982

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Photography from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," February 26, 1999–May 23, 1999.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "As It Happened: Photographs from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 7, 2002–August 25, 2002.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Master Photographs from the Gilman Collection: A Landmark Acquisition," June 28, 2005–September 6, 2005.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 44," August 29, 2006–January 7, 2007.

Kansas City, Mo. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," October 19, 2013–February 9, 2014.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," March 16–July 6, 2014.

Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 40.

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 293.

Kelly, Simon, and April M. Watson. Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. St. Louis: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2013. no. 92, pp. 250–52.



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