Videos ()
Faking It: In Conversation


Tour Saint-Jacques, Paris

Édouard Baldus (French, born Prussia, 1813–1889)

Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 42.9 x 34.3 cm (16 7/8 x 13 1/2 in.) Mount: 58.3 x 49 cm (22 15/16 x 19 5/16 in.)
Credit Line:
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2009
Accession Number:
  • Description

    The freestanding Tour Saint-Jacques that one sees today in a park just off the rue de Rivoli in the heart of Paris is all that remains of the Gothic church of Saint-Jacques la Boucherie. Built between 1508 and 1522, the tower lost its statuary and its dozen bells during the Revolution, but its basic fabric escaped the demolition visited upon the rest of the church. It was sold in 1797 and was put to use for a purpose far from its original function: as a shot tower. Droplets of molten lead formed into perfect spheres as they fell through the nearly two-hundred-foot interior of the tower into a cooling tub of water at the bottom. In 1836 the tower was bought by the City of Paris.

    In 1852 and 1853 Édouard Baldus, having just returned from a government-sponsored photographic survey of ancient and medieval monuments in the south of France, turned his lens to the historic monuments of Paris. Fortuitously, he was able to photograph the Tour Saint-Jacques just as it was being disengaged from the buildings that had grown up around it, recording its original structure before it was transformed once more.

  • Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings

    Inscription: Inscribed in pencil by André Jammes on mount, recto, BL: "Par Baldus [double-underlined] Provient de la coll. Petiot-Groffier (cachet de collection)"; BR: "JJ14"; inscribed in pencil on mount verso, TL: "56) Baldus. La Tour St Jacques Vers 1854"; C: "46 [circled]", "42 [circled and crossed out]".

  • Provenance

    Fortuné-Joseph Petiot-Groffier; his descendants; André and Marie-Thérèse Jammes, Paris; (Sotheby's Paris, November 15, 2008, lot 76)

  • See also