View of the Boulevards of Paris

William Henry Fox Talbot British

Not on view

In May 1843 Talbot traveled to Paris to negotiate a licensing agreement for the French rights to his patented calotype process. His invention used a negative-positive system and a paper base—not a copper support as in a daguerreotype. Although his negotiations were not fruitful, Talbot’s views of the elegant new boulevards of the French capital were highly successful.

Filled with the incidental details of urban life, architectural ornamentation, and the play of spring light, this photograph appears as the second plate in Talbot’s groundbreaking publication The Pencil of Nature (1844). The chimney posts on the roofline of the rue de la Paix, the waiting horses and carriages, and the characteristically French shuttered windows evoke as vivid a notion of mid-nineteenth-century Paris now as they must have 170 years ago.

View of the Boulevards of Paris, William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock), Salted paper print from paper negative

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