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The Photographs of Edouard Baldus

The Photographs of Édouard Baldus

Daniel, Malcolm R., with an essay by Barry Bergdoll
1994
293 pages
177 illustrations
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The photographer Édouard Baldus (1813–1889), a central figure in the early development of French photography and acknowledged in his day as a pioneer in the still-experimental field, was widely acclaimed both for his aesthetic sensitivity and for his technical prowess. Establishing a new mode of representing architecture and describing the emerging modern landscape with magnificent authority, he enjoyed high patronage in the 1850s and 1860s. Yet, despite the artist's renown during his lifetime, his name is all but unknown today, his work savored only by connoisseurs.

This book, the first to chronicle the life and career of this important artist, brings his work once more before the public. The superb quality of the reproductions captures the subtle tones and soft matte surfaces of the original prints, many of which are published here for the first time.

Baldus made his reputation with views of the monuments of Paris and the south of France, with dramatic landscapes of the Auvergne, with photographs of the New Louvre, and with a poignant record of the devastating floods of 1856. But it is his two railroad albums—the first commissioned in 1855 by Baron James de Rothschild for presentation to Queen Victoria, the second in 1861 by the Paris-Lyon-Mediterranee railroad company—that are his greatest achievement. Here he brought together his earlier architectural and scenic images with bold geometric views of the modern landscape—railroad tracks, stations, bridges, viaducts, and tunnels—to address the influence of technology (of which both the railroad and the camera are prime examples). In so doing, Baldus anticipated the concerns of Impressionist painters a decade later and those of many artists of our own day, meeting his task with a clarity and directness not since surpassed.

Met Art in Publication

Rouen Cathedral: The Portal (Sunlight), Claude Monet  French, Oil on canvas
1894
ca. 1860
1860s
1850s
1880s
[Roman Arch at Orange], Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1851
Pavillon de l'Horloge, Louvre, Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1852–53
[Rocks in the Auvergne], Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1854, printed 1979
Gare d'Enghien, Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1855
Eglise d'Auvers, Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1855, printed 1855–57
[Entrance to the Port of Boulogne], Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
1855
[Imperial Library of the Louvre], Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from glass negative
1856–57
Pont en Royans, Edouard Baldus  French, born Prussia, Salted paper print from paper negative
ca. 1859

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Daniel, Malcolm R., and Barry Bergdoll. 1994. The Photographs of Edouard Baldus: Exhibition, Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, October 3-December 31, 1994, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montréal, January 24-April 23, 1995, Musée National Des Monuments Français, Paris, May 13-August 11, 1995. New York Montréal: the Metropolitan museum of art distrib. by H. N. Abrams Canadian centre for architecture.