[Album of Paris Crime Scenes], Attributed to Alphonse Bertillon (French, 1853–1914), Gelatin silver prints

[Album of Paris Crime Scenes]

Attributed to Alphonse Bertillon (French, 1853–1914)
Gelatin silver prints
Overall: 24.3 x 31cm (9 9/16 x 12 3/16in.)
Page: 23 x 29 cm (9 1/16 x 11 7/16 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation Gift, 2001
Accession Number:
Not on view
Alphonse Bertillon, the chief of criminal identification for the Paris police department, developed the mug shot format and other photographic procedures used by police to register criminals. Although the images in this extraordinary album of forensic photographs were made by or under the direction of Bertillon, it was probably assembled by a private investigator or secretary who worked at the Paris prefecture. Photographs of the pale bodies of murder victims are assembled with views of the rooms where the murders took place, close-ups of objects that served as clues, and mug shots of criminals and suspects. Made as part of an archive rather than as art, these postmortem portraits, recorded in the deadpan style of a police report, nonetheless retain an unsettling potency.
(Christie's South Kensington, May 11, 2001, Lot #254); [Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., New York]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 36," November 3, 2003–March 7, 2004.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Naked before the Camera," March 27, 2012–September 9, 2012.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Crime Stories: Photography and Foul Play," March 7, 2016–July 31, 2016.