Arles (Bouche-du-Rhône) -- Interior View of the Amphitheater
Édouard Baldus (French, born Prussia, 1813–1889)
Waxed paper negatives with applied media
Image: 39 x 26 cm (15 3/8 x 10 1/4 in.)
Mat: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)
Frame: 62.2 x 72.4 cm (24 1/2 x 28 1/2 in.)
Ministere de la Culture et de la Communication (France), Dépôt au Musée d'Orsay, Paris, de la Médiathèque de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine. Charenton-le-Pont, France
Not on view
While traveling in the south of France on a government commission to document the nation’s architectural treasures, Baldus devised an ingenious technique for producing large panoramic photographs, suturing together portions of multiple paper negatives like the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. This negative depicting a group of tourists with sketchpads in the Roman amphitheater at Arles was originally conceived as one segment of a five-part panorama. Although the final panorama no longer survives, this composite of two paper negatives—one showing the interior of the amphitheater, another the posed figures—demonstrates the photographer’s painstaking attempt to insert an intimate, picturesque scene in a monumental vista—a feat that would have been impossible to accomplish with a single exposure.
In 1851, Baldus made this photographic negative while working for the Historic Monuments Commission, a French government agency. It was the first government-sponsored photographic survey, referred to as the Missions Heliographiques. This work is still owned by the government and is managed by the Médiathèque de l'Architecture et du Patrimoine, but it is on deposit at the Musee D'Orsay.