[Plaster Model of an Ornamental Oeil-de-Boeuf for the New Louvre]
Édouard Baldus (French, born Prussia, 1813–1889)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 28.8 x 21.9 cm (11 5/16 x 8 5/8 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation Gift, 2006
Not on view
Fulfiling his commission to document the construction of the New Louvre "stone by stone," Baldus made thousands of photographs of plaster models and finished statuary as well as ornamental stonework. Although they were eventually printed for albums distributed by Napoleon III to the reigning sovereigns of Europe, such photographs were originally intended for the dossiers of sculptors and masons, along with contracts and payment for work, preparatory drawings, and the like. In an 1856 report to the emperor, the minister of state explained the role of photography:
In the interest of art and in order to preserve for history the models, numbering more than eight hundred, that were executed by the sculptors of the New Louvre, I charged the architect with making reproductions of them by means of "photography." These drawings, properly classified and aided by the technical drawings executed by the Bureau des Études, will make it possible at some later date to produce a full account of the construction of the Louvre, which will be of the highest interest for the history of art.
Descendents of Charles Lepretre, sculptor; [Serge Plantureux, Paris]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Napoleon III and Paris," June 9–September 7, 2009.