Édouard Baldus (French, born Prussia, 18131889)
Albumen silver print from paper negative
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005 (2005.100.364.41)
At the Tour Magne in Nîmes, Baldus filled the frame with the ancient Roman tomb, providing no context beyond the pebble-strewn foreground. The photograph's aesthetic and human interest lie in the contrast between the monument's geometric structure and the irregularity of its ruined silhouette, in the modulation of highlights, middle tones, and deep shadows, in the variety of texture found on the deteriorating masonry, and in the battle between the builder's desire for an imperishable memorial, the modern restorer's efforts to preserve the past, and the vegetation sprouting inexorably from its high walls.