Lessart Viaduct on the Rance River

Louis Lafon (French, active 1870s–90s)
October 1879
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 36.9 x 47.6 cm (14 1/2 x 18 3/4 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2008
Accession Number:
Not on view
In April 1858 the director of the École des Ponts et Chaussées, the French civil-engineering school, observed that photography “is by now employed on many work sites, not only to record the details but even to see the state of progress of the construction.” Lafon mastered this type of industrial imagery for which he was awarded a medal at the 1874 exhibition of the Société Française de Photographie. Striking in its symmetry and precision, this photograph is from a series documenting the construction of a railway line from Dol to Lamballe in Brittany. The image offers a striking tableau of modern labor. A row of engineers and officials takes center stage within the soaring structure, while behind them unskilled laborers wave at the camera and peek out from between iron beams.
Inscription: Inscribed in negative, recto BR: "L. LAFON // 1879" [underlined]
["An antique dealer who bought them from another antique dealer"]; [Laurent Herschtritt, Six Fours Les Plages, France]; [Charles Isaacs, New York, 2007]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery Selections from the Collection 65,".

Le Grand Oeuvre: Photographies des Grands Travaux, 1860–1900. Paris: Centre National de la Photographie, 1983. fig. 17.