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Exhibitions/ Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey

Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey

At The Met Fifth Avenue
January 30–May 12, 2019

Exhibition Catalogue

The first monograph in English on this brilliant artist features incisive essays and full-scale reproductions of his groundbreaking photographs.

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Exhibition Overview

In 1842, artist, architectural historian, archaeologist, and pioneer photographer Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804–1892) embarked on a three-year photographic excursion throughout the Eastern Mediterranean, and he returned to France with more than one thousand daguerreotypes—an unparalleled feat in the history of photography. Among the images he created are the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria, and Jerusalem and among the first daguerreotypes depicting Italy.

A trailblazer of the daguerreotype process, Girault used oversize plates and innovative formats to produce what is today the world's oldest photographic archive—all in the service of a brand-new type of archaeological fieldwork. This exhibition, the first in the United States devoted to Girault, and the first to focus on his Mediterranean journey, features approximately 120 of his daguerreotypes, supplemented by examples of his graphic work—watercolors, paintings, and his lithographically illustrated publications.

Accompanied by a catalogue.


Featured Media


"A buffed jewel of an exhibition" —New York Times

"An extraordinary—and very moving—exhibition. . . . a poetic meditation on vanished empire, memory, and loss." —ArtNews

"What is most compelling about these images is how alien they are to contemporary photography. " —4Columns

"It is a mark of this triumphant show that the more we learn about him, the more remarkable and mysterious he seems." —Wall Street Journal

"Girault . . . created one of the first extensive bodies of photographic images that also qualifies as fine art." —New Criterion

"A delight for both photo nerds and history buffs alike. . . . This one is a must see." —BuzzFeed News

The exhibition is made possible by the Aretê Foundation/Betsy and Ed Cohen.

Additional support is provided by Jennifer S. and Philip F. Maritz and the Alfred Stieglitz Society.

It is organized by The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, in collaboration with the Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris.

The catalogue is made possible by the Diane W. and James E. Burke Fund.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in

Five Things to Know about Girault de Prangey

A daguerreotype of the artist, a middle-aged man with a dark moustache and receding hairline, posed upright and nobly.

What makes this a must-see exhibition? Get to know the innovator behind the monumental journey in this introductory article.

Exhibition Objects

Marquee: Girault de Prangey (French, 1804–1892). Palm Tree near the Church of Saints Theodore, Athens, 1842. Daguerreotype, 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 in. (24 x 19 cm). Bibliothèque nationale de France, Paris (EG7-750). Blog: Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (French, 1804–1892). Self-portrait (detail), 1841–42. Daguerreotype, 4 3/4 x 3 11/16 in. (12 x 9.4 cm). Bibliothèque nationale de France (EG3-733)