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Louis Vignes (1831-1896)

Voyage d‘exploration : la Mer Morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain par M. le duc de Luynes At a Crossroads…

The 1864 Expedition


At a Crossroads… Timing, location and personal contacts can be the key factors to achieving success. This was most certainly the case for Honoré d’Albert duc de Luynes when, at the house of his friend Emile Péretié, chancellor of the French consulate in Beirut, he met a young commanding naval officer named Louis Vignes as well as Henri Sauvaire, the main dragoman1 to the French consulate in Beirut. Both Louis Vignes and Henri Sauvaire became protagonists in the duc de Luynes’ Middle Eastern expeditions. Further indication of the duke’s good fortune; Sauvaire and Vignes were not only experienced and knowledgeable about the Middle East, they were both highly gifted photographers. The reputable Honoré d’Albert duc de Luynes (1802-1867) was an avid supporter of the arts, passionate archeologist and patron of photographic activities as well as being known for his outstanding personality. He dedicated his life to scientific endeavours of all natures. Aside from his varied and numerous publishing activities, much of the duke’s scientific research was devoted to numismatics in addition to involvement in the research and development of the Egyptian and Greek collections housed in the Louvre. His first expedition, for which he employed Louis Vignes (1831-1896) as his photographer, began in 1864. Visiting sites of crucial importance to the foundations of Christianity, the then largely unexplored areas surrounding Jerusalem, Galilee, Samaria and the West Bank attracted scientists’ and artists’ attention alike. The scenes photographed by Vignes can be understood both as visual accounts of the exotic landscapes he encountered as well as an early engagement with the mystical ruins and powerful atmospheres of the many sites steeped in centuries of history. The explorers, accompanied by geologist Louis Lartet and naturalist Dr. Combe, commenced their journey aboard the Amerique from Marseilles on the 9th of February 1864. The group arrived, by the 21st of February, in Mr. Péretié’s residence where Vignes photographed the interiors (p. 118/119) – another copy of which can still be seen in the only other complete set to date, housed in the Bibliotheque Nationale de France, Paris. The following week, the expedition set off towards Jerusalem.

1 Dragomen an interpreter or guide, especially active in Arabic, Turkish or Persian regions and based in embassies and consulates. 3


Experts have determined that Vignes used both glass and paper negatives during the duke’s expedition. We know that Vignes prepared his glass plates with dry collodion in Paris prior to his departure. However, he would still require a six-minuteexposure for each photograph as well as a tent and a heavy wooden tripod. It was only through the extreme care taken by Vignes that the glass negatives could ever be returned safely to Paris. These difficulties are recorded in the duke’s diaries as follows: “Malheureusement, les plaques de verre, mal préparées à Paris, ne prirent pasablement qu'une seule image … les autres ne se montrèrent pas sous les réactifs révélateurs” – “Unfortunately, the poorly prepared glass plates from Paris are unable to produce, but a few, usable images… whilst others do not seem to show any reactions to the reactant.” 2In fact, the two part panorama of Beyrouth (p. 116/117) (taken before the first excursion) is a perfect example of his dual working methods. Another view of Beyrouth (p. 95-98) was taken on glass negatives. On the 28th of February the duke wrote in his diary “Mr. Vignes took a photograph at the cave of Astarte, where he makes distinguishable an otherwise almost hidden entrance to the underground temple.” He continues to write “the photographs taken by Mr. Vignes give a very clear account of these ruins…”3

2 Taken from the original French wording as : «Malheureusement, les plaques de verre, mal préparées à Paris, ne prirent pasablement qu‘une seule image … les autres ne se montrèrent pas sous les réactifs révélateurs » from Voyage d‘exploration : la Mer Morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain par M. le duc de Luynes, 1974-76. Tome 1, p. 86 3 Voyage d‘exploration : la Mer Morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain par M. le duc de Luynes, 1974-76. Tome 1, p. 27 The original French reads : “M. Vignes en avait pris (la grotte d‘Astarté) une photographie où l‘on distingue l‘entrée presque cachée de ce temple souterrain.” and “la photographie prise par M. Vignes donne une idée fort exacte de ce pont ruiné (pont romain) ...” 4


These two photographs, “Abou-el-Aswad (Pont roman)” (p. 12-13) and “Grotte d'Astarté”, (p. 14) were printed from paper negatives. Vignes’ decisions about when to employ his paper or glass negatives seem to have been made with artistic considerations, instead of what is commonly believed to have been an exhausted supply of glass negatives. According to the comte de Vogué’s account, Vignes’ last exposure was taken in September 1864 in Palmyre. Vignes had been asked by the duke to “…fixer astronomiquement la position exact de cette ruine”, or, “precisely map the exact position of the ruins”. All photographs from this series were taken on glass negatives. Vignes made his material (i.e glass versus paper) choices based on his expected outcome, the paper negatives lent themselves to a more pictorialist and, perhaps, more poetic aesthetic; where the glass negatives were used to make his infamously modern and detailed photographs. Undoubtedly Vignes’ Middle East photographs were taken under extremely challenging circumstances. With photography itself still in its primal stages, the obstacles and challenges of such an expedition included working in the blistering heat, travelling long stretches of coast by boat on the Dead Sea for months on end and riding through unknown and arduous terrains. However, despite the many technical constraints Vignes faced, the photographs show Vignes’ striking and prophetic sense of modernity. The pictures taken in Palmyra are unique examples of Vignes’ particular methods of evocatively capturing the temples and columns his expedition encountered. Aided by his substantial knowledge of astronomy, Vignes positioned his camera in such a manner that he was able to map his explored sites with unprecedented precision. This is equally palpable in Vignes’ use of perspective and composition.

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On the duke’s return to Jerusalem, he met with Christopher Edward Mauss (1829-1914), the archeologist and architect responsible for the restorations of the St. Anne’s Church as well as the dome of the Holy Sepulchre there. De Luynes asked Mauss how to study and photograph Hebron’s mosque as well as how to get information on existing works pertaining to the crusades. Once more, a serendipitous incident connected the duke with the chief dragoman to the French consulate in Beirut, Henri Sauvaire, who was not only an oriental expert, but also an accomplished photographer. Sauvaire and Mauss undertook the second expedition together. Sauvaire, a pragmatic and highly intelligent man, believed that using paper negatives would be easiest to handle and to prepare when working in challenging conditions. During their expedition in 1866, Sauvaire created 73 paper negatives. Upon his return to France, the duc de Luynes asked Charles Nègre to produce prints from all the negatives made during the expeditions. He also asked him to create mechanical printing plates to illustrate what was to become, posthumously, the duc's opus magnus: Voyage d'exploration : la Mer Morte, à Petra et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain par M. le duc de Luynes (1874-76). We have to remember that already in July of 1856, the duke had instigated a photographic competition designed to rectify the “imperfect state of knowledge regarding the stability of photographic prints”. The award would be divided between two bursaries, one of 2000 francs and the other of 8000 francs. The smaller of the two prizes would be awarded to projects which progressed the state of processing for permanent photographic positives. The larger prize of 8000 francs, was to be awarded in three years to the person judged by a special committee to have developed the best process for producing photographs using printer’s ink. In keeping with the duke’s desire that the prizes stimulate research, the jury was to consider not only the product’s beauty, but also the originality of the invention and its prospects for wider use. The grand concours, as it was called, decided in 1859 after a meeting to consider entries, that no entries fulfilled the duke’s original aims. However, three contestants’ work stood out: Charles Nègre, Alphonse Poitevin and Paul Pretsch. Eventually, after the competition’s lengthy hiatus, it would be Poitevin to receive the 8000 franc reward in 1867, for a process he had patented in 1855 – a year before the competition had been initiated. But in the end, it was Nègre’s unparalleled passion and mastery which ensured lasting life to [the visual documentation of] one of the most important archaeological projects in the second half of the nineteenth Century. The results are immersive photographs which, to this day, recount to their viewers a rare, distant and lost world. (Jean-Mathieu Martini, February 2015)

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1. VallĂŠe du Nahr-el-Kelb (Lycus des anciens), (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,5 x 25,6 cm


2. Source du Nahr-el-Kelb (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,8 x 25,9 cm

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3. Nahr-el-Kelb, (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20,1 x 25,9 cm ; following double page: 5. Abu-al-Aswad (Pont roman), (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,7 x 24,7 cm


4. Nahr-el-Kelb (Grotte au dessus de la source), (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,8 x 25,7 cm

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6. Grotte d窶連startテゥ, albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18 x 26 cm


7. Tyr, (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount, 18,1 x 25,5 cm; following double page: 8. Tyr, (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount, 18,5 x 25,4 cm

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Left: 9. (detail): Djenin, (West Bank), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 17,5 x 24,9 cm; Above: 11. Naplouse (Mont Garizim), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,3 x 26 cm

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10. Naplouse (Bases des monts Garzim et Ebal), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 17,3 x 25,3 cm; right: 12. (detail): Naplouse (Base du mont Garizim), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,2 x 25,7 cm


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13. Bethel, (Palestine), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 16,3 x 24,4 cm


14. Jerusalem (Le saint sĂŠpulcre), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,7 x 25,5 cm

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15. Ain-Jidy (Pommier ou limon de Sodome), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20 x 25,2 cm


16. Arak-el-Emir, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,7 x 25,5 cm

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17. Arak-el-Emir, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,5 x 26 cm


18. Arak-el-Emir, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c 19,1 x 26,1 cm. 27,5 x 36 cm),

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19. Arak-el-Emir, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20 x 25,2 cm


20. Ain Mousa (au pied du mont Nebo), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,5 x 25,6 cm

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Left: 21. (detail): Djebel-Mousa (Sanctuaire ruine situe au sommet) I, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 17,4 x 26,1 cm; above: 22.Variant II, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 17,3 x 25,3 cm

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24. Djebel-Mousa (Sanctuaire ruine situe au sommet) IV, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,6 x 25,5 cm; right: (detail): 23. Variant III, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,3 x 25,9 cm


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25. Mkaur (Machaerus), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18 x 25,4 cm


26. Mkaur (Machaerus) (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 17,6 x 23,2 cm

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Above: 27. Mkaur (Machaerus), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,6 x 24,7 cm; right: (detail): 28. Mkaur (Machaerus), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,2 x 26 cm; following double page: 29.(detail): Manfoumieh, (Jordan),albumen print from glass negative on original mount, 17,6 x 25,2 cm


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30. Manfoumieh, (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,3 x 25,5 cm


33. Petra (Kahsneh-firoun), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 26,5 x 20,7 cm

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34. (Detail): Petra (Kahsneh-firoun), (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 25,9 x 20,5 cm; right: other detail


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31. Semoah, (Hebron, West Bank), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,9 x 25,2 cm


32. Semoah, (Hebron, West Bank), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,2 x 25,4 cm; following double page: (detail): 35. Petra, (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,5 x 25,9 cm

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37. Petra (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,7 x 26 cm


36. Petra (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,5 x 25,6 cm

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39. Petra, (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19 x 24,9 cm;


40. (detail): Djerash (Proscenium du thÊâtre du sud), (Syria), 19,1 x 25,5 cm; following double page: 38. Petra, (Jordan), albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20,2 x 26,2 cm

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41. Djerash (Arc de triomphe), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,7 x 25,8 cm


43. Djerash (Temple du sud), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,4 x 25,5 cm; following double page: 42. (detail): Djerash (Vue gĂŠnĂŠrale prise du temple du sud), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,6 x 25,6 cm

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44. Djerash (Grand thÊâtre et temple du sud), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,2 x 25,9 cm


45. Djerash (Temple de Jupiter), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,5 x 25,8 cm

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46. Djerash (Petite thÊâtre ), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount vv(c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,4 x 25,6 cm


47. Djerash (Bains et vue prise vers le sud), (Syria), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,3 x 25,6 cm

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48. Wady Hasbany, albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,1 x 25,7 cm; right: (detail): 49. Source du Wady Hasbany, albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,6 x 26 cm


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50. Sommet de Tell-el-Kady, (Tel Dan, Israel), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20 x 26 cm


51. Source du Jourdain, (Sde Nehemija, Israel), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,3 x 25,5 cm

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52. Banias (Grotte de Pan), (Israel), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,4 x 25,9 cm; right: (detail): 53. Banias (Niche près de la grotte de Pan), (Israel), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 20,2 x 25,6 cm


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54. Racheya (et le Djebel-es-Scheikh), (Lebanon), albumen print from paper negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 19,4 x 25,6 cm


55. Angle N.O. de la cour du temple, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,5 cm

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56. Porte de la cour du temple, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,4 cm


57. Colonne de la partie est de la cour, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22, x 28,7 cm

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58. Left: (detail): Porte du temple, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 29 x 22,4 cm; Above: 59. Temple de Bel pris de l anle N.O de la cour, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,6 x 28,4 cm

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60. Colonnade de l angle N.O de la cour, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,3 cm


61. Petit temple au nord de la colonnade, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,4 cm

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62. Arc de triomphe et grande colonnade, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,4 cm


63. Colonnade ouest prise du centre, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,7 x 28,7 cm

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64. Colonnade partie centrale, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,4 cm


65. Angle ext Sud O du temple, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,2 x 28,3 cm

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66. Angle ext Sud O du temple, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,2 cm


67. Colonnade partie orientale prise du centre, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,3 cm

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69. Vallee du tombeau, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,6 cm; right: (detail): 68. Tombeau le mieux conserve interieurement, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 28,2 x 22,4 cm


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70. Colonnade partie orientale prise du centre, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,8 cm


73. Tombeaux autour du tertre, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 22,4 x 28,7 cm

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71. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,3 cm, (I/II)


72. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,2 cm, (II/II)

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74. Left: (detail): Grand tombeaux, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 28,1 x 22,4 cm; above: 76. Tombeaux, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,8 cm

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75. Duplicata du precedent, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative 28,2 x 22,4 cm; right: detail


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77. Monument de Diocletien, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,7 x 28,5 cm


78. Monument de Diocletien, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,2 cm

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79. MausolĂŠe a l extrĂŠmitĂŠ ouest de la colonnade, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,3 cm; right: (detail): 80. albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,2 cm


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81. (detail): Panoramique en 3 parties, vue prise du monument de DioclĂŠtien, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,3 cm, (I/II)


82. (detail): Panoramique en 3 parties, vue prise du monument de DioclĂŠtien, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,3 cm, (II/III)

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83. (detail): Panoramique en 3 parties, vue prise du monument de DioclĂŠtien, Palmyre, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,4 cm, (III/III);


Above: detail; following double page: 84. (detail): Pont de L´Oronte a Rastan, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,5 cm

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85. L‘Oronte au dessus du pont de Restan, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,3 cm


86. Interieur du camp a Restan, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,3 cm

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87. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Vue de Beyrouth pris de Raz Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,4 x 28,3 cm, (I/II)


88. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Vue de Beyrouth pris de Raz Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,5 cm, (II/III)

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89. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Pris depuis la maison de M. PeretiĂŠ, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,6 x 28,7 cm, (I/II)


90. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Pris depuis la maison de M. PeretiĂŠ, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,6 x 28,6 cm, (II/III)

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91. Vue prise aux pines de Beyrouth, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,7 x 25,8 cm


92. Vue prise aux pins de Beyrouth, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,2 x 25,4 cm

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93. Vue prise aux pins de Beyrouth, albumen print from glass negative on original mount (c. 27,5 x 36 cm), 18,3 x 25,8 cm


94. Vue prise de la route de Damas, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,6 x 28,3 cm

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95. (detail): Panoramique en 4 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,5 x 28,1 cm, (I/IV)


96. (detail): Panoramique en 4 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,3 x 28,2 cm, (II/IV)

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97. (detail): Panoramique en 4 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,6 x 28,3 cm, (III/IV)


98. (detail): Panoramique en 4 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print with margins from glass negative, 22,2 x 28,4 cm, (IV/IV)

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99. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print from paper negative on original mount, 18,4 x 25,8 cm, (I/II)


100. (detail): Panoramique en 2 parties, Beyrouth, albumen print from paper negative on original mount, 19 x 25,4 cm, (II/II); following double page: (detail): 101. Interieur de la maison de M. PeretiĂŠ, (Beyrouth), albumen print from glass negative on original mount, 18,5 x 23,1 cm

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Interieur de la maison text de M. PeretiĂŠ


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This book is published on the occasion of the exhibition “Voyage”at Tefaf Maastricht, March 2015 Opening: March 12, 2015, 12 – 9 pm Exhibition: March 13 – 22, 11 – 7 pm TEFAF (The European Fine Art Fair) MECC, 6229 GV Maastricht The Netherlands, Tel. +49 / 172 / 74 84 999 This book is online published in electronic format. © Text and photographs Daniel Blau Maximilianstraße 26 80539 Munich Germany contact@danielblau.com Tel.: +49 / 89 / 297 342 www.danielblau.com ISBN 978-3-00-048606-7 All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying or any information storage or retrieval system, without permission in writing from the editor.


ISBN 978-3-00-048605-0

DANIEL BLAU


Louis Vignes