A History of Photography: Nineteenth Century

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A History of Photography at The University of Notre Dame


19 Olympe Aguado French, 1827–1894

Staghounds about 1856 Salt print from paper negative 13.2 × 16.8 cm (5 1/4 × 6 5/8 in.) Image 13.2 × 16.8 cm (5 1/4 × 6 5/8 in.) Sheet Milly and Fritz Kaeser Endowment for Photography, 2015.010.002

Among the prosperous enthusiasts who enjoyed photography as a hobby were Olympe Aguado de las Marismas and his brother Onésipe Aguado, whose work stands out for its playful, creative attitude.1 They were the sons of Alexandre Aguado and his wife Maria de Carmen Vidoire Moreno, Spanish supporters of Joseph Bonaparte during the Peninsular War. When the conflict was over the family moved to Paris, where Alexandre Aguado became a successful banker. During the late 1820s he negotiated loans that saved Spain from bankruptcy, and in gratitude King Ferdinand VII conferred upon him the title Marquis de las Marismas del Guadalquivir.2 Olympe Aguado was 15 years old when his father died, leaving him and his brother fantastic wealth, several lavish estates, and the titles of count and viscount. They were free to enjoy themselves, their families and society, and to pursue their own amusements and interests. Olympe Aguado and his friend Vicomte Joseph Vigier learned the processes of photography in the late 1840s. They studied the daguerreotype technique first, but just one extant plate has been associated with Aguado, an elegant interior study, now in the collection of the Société Française de Photographie. Later the colleagues learned the use of calotype and waxed-paper negatives in the Paris studio of Gustave


le Gray (Cat. no. 10). In 1852, the Aguado brothers set up a fully equipped photography workshop in their apartment at 18 place Vendôme in Paris. There they made sophisticated portraits of their society friends posing before full-length, custom-painted canvas backdrops, as in the most elegant Parisian studios of the day. In 1853 Count Aguado took his camera to his country properties around France. He created salted paper prints of rural views in Berry and Champagne, in the Bois de Boulogne and the forest of Rambouillet, and at Compiègne in the Oise region. At his rural estate near Grossoeuvre in Normandy, he made studies of the farmstead and its animals, as well as fields, copses and riverbanks.3 This work may have been inspired by photographers at Barbizon, and pastoral painters like Constant Troyon and Rosa Bonheur. However, Aguado’s images capture natural beauty on a modest scale, unusual among photographers of his generation. This photograph of a group of hounds relaxing in the sunshine is similar to Aguado’s studies of farm animals.4 However, this image was probably taken at a country estate large enough to accommodate a pack of hunting hounds; it is likely to be one of many that Count Aguado made at the imperial Château de Compiègne, where the photographer was a frequent


49 Désiré Charnay French, 1828–1915

The Chapel, Palace of the Nuns, Chichén-Itzá 1862 from Cités et ruines américaines Albumen print from wet collodion negative 41.5 × 33.6 cm (16 1/4 × 13 1/8 in.) Sheet 71.1 × 54.0 cm (28 × 21 1/4 in.) Mount Milly Kaeser Fund in memory of Fritz Kaeser, 2000.046

Désiré Charnay was an adventurer and photographer whose illustrated books and publications made him one of the best known French explorers of his day. He was among the first European photographers to work in Central America, and later traveled to Java, Madagascar and Australia. Charnay thought of himself as an explorer and his photography as a scientific tool. To facilitate his process, he progressed from the use of wet-plate collodion negatives to using emulsions of collodion and bromide and finally collodion and gelatin. Claude-Joseph Désiré Charnay was born at Fleurieux-sur-l’Arbresle in the Rhône region of France.1 As a student at the prestigious Lycée Charlemagne in Paris he excelled in the study of mathematics and engineering. After graduating he set out on a grand tour, with an itinerary that included America. In 1850 Charnay settled in New Orleans, Louisiana, where he probably encountered the best-selling books of John Lloyd Stephens, including Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatán, with its romantic lithographic illustrations by Frederick Catherwood.2 He became determined to follow these adventurers to Mexico. On a visit to Paris in 1853 Charnay learned the techniques of photography, and applied to the Ministry of Public Instruction for a grant to fund an expedition to


Central America. It was not until spring 1857 that he had secured the travel documents and gathered nearly four thousand pounds (1,800 kg) of baggage and supplies necessary for the journey. In November 1857 he sailed from New Orleans to Veracruz. Charnay made several incursions into the jungle, and some tantalizing photographs of Mayan ruins, despite difficult river crossings and bothersome native curiosity. His efforts to execute large-format wet-plate collodion negatives were complicated by technical problems.3 The heat and humidity of the jungle warped the body and chassis rails of his wooden camera; dust and insects stuck to the wet plates. The collodion dried unevenly, so he diluted and adjusted the mixture of his emulsion. The resulting collodion layer was so fragile that it had to be protected from scratching; Charnay had no varnish and tried coating his exposed with albumen, with moderate success. All of this came to nought, however, when his work was interrupted by the War of Reform in Mexico. He was stopped by soldiers who destroyed all of his negatives, believing him to be a French spy. Charnay returned to Paris. Liberal forces regained territory in winter 1860, and Benito Juárez was installed as interim president.4 The photographer felt it safe to return to Mexico and made his


53 Mathew B. Brady American, 1822–1896

Colonel Philippe Régis de Trobriand on the Ramparts of Fort Gaines, Tennallytown, Maryland 1861 Albumen print from wet collodion negative 26.4 × 39.3 cm (10 3/8 × 15 1/2 in.) Sheet 29.5 × 43.4 cm (11 1/2 × 17 in.) Mount Milly and Fritz Kaeser Fund for Photography, 2013.038.001

The most influential American photographer of the Civil War era, Mathew Brady and the photographers in his employ produced thousands of historic images. Because of the scale of this project, his sustained effort and his resolve to publish photographs of the war quickly, he is often considered the father of American photojournalism. Brady was born and raised near Lake George, in Warren County, New York, the youngest of three children of Irish immigrant parents.1 He grew up on the family farm in the Adirondacks, and left home at age 16 intent upon becoming an artist. In Saratoga, he became a student of the portrait painter William Page. In 1839, Brady traveled with Page to New York City, where he met Page’s former teacher Samuel F. B. Morse. In Paris, that famed painter and inventor had recently met Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, and had returned to New York with great enthusiasm for Daguerre’s new process.2 Brady is thought to have learned daguerreotypy in Manhattan, from Morse’s colleague John William Draper, the English-born chemistry professor who made his own pioneering experiments with the process.3 Brady opened his own daguerreotype studio in 1844, on the corner of Broadway and Fulton Street in Manhattan, near P. T. Barnum’s museum. The technical and aesthetic quality of his work soon


attracted attention. He favored bust-length plates that usually represented a three-quarter profile. A shrewd salesman, Brady offered complementary portraits to famous sitters with the understanding that he retain a second plate, to be displayed in Brady’s Daguerrean Miniature Gallery. His studio became a destination, and a Brady portrait acquired a special cachet. Success enabled him to move to expanded premises along Broadway, and in 1848 he opened a studio in Washington, D.C. Even though he photographed President Zachary Taylor and his cabinet, he was unable to succeed in the Washington business climate. In an era before photographic reproduction, Brady arranged for some of his most famous portraits to be reproduced as lithographs drawn by the French artist Francis D’Avignon. Celebrities like Daniel Webster, John C. Fremont and Henry Clay were among the 12 portraits in Brady’s Gallery of Illustrious Americans, published in 1850.4 The portfolio received good reviews and contributed to his growing reputation, but sales were disappointing. As photographic technology evolved in the mid-1850s, Brady shifted to using glass-plate negatives to produce multiple salted paper and albumen prints. Soon, with the surging popularity of cartesde-visite, the photographer successfully marketed his portraits of famous Americans. This enabled him in


62 Napoleon Sarony American, born in Canada, 1821–1896

Oscar Wilde 1882 Albumen print from wet collodion negative, mounted as boudoir print 30.1 × 18.5 cm (12 × 7 1/4 in.) Sheet 33 × 19 cm (13 × 7 1/2 in.) Mount Milly and Fritz Kaeser Endowment for Photography, 2020.012

Photography thrived after the Civil War, when an expanding economy provided disposable income and increased leisure time. New York remained the center of American photography, and the capital of the lively arts as well. In this era Napoleon Sarony became the leading producer of celebrity portraits in the city. His studios photographed virtually every star of the New York stage over 30 years. Olivier and Napoleon Sarony were sons of an Austrian army officer who moved his family to Canada after the Battle of Waterloo. As a young man Olivier became interested in photography, and he made daguerreotype portraits at his family’s home in Quebec.1 He continued this activity after the family moved to New York in 1831, and his brother trained as a lithographic draftsman with Currier & Ives. After just two years, Napoleon and his partner James Major opened a rival printshop. Olivier emigrated to England where—as Oliver Sarony—he worked as an itinerant daguerreotypist before settling in Scarborough, Yorkshire, to open a portrait studio. Shortly before 1860, Napoleon traveled to Europe after marrying his second wife, Louise. They made extended visits to Paris, Brussels and London, and then proceeded to Birmingham, where the Sarony brothers set up a photography studio together in New Street. At that time Napoleon became an expert in


the technology of wet-plate developing, printing and enlarging. The brothers worked together on technical and workshop refinements, developing new techniques for vignetting images as well as an improved laboratory copy stand and retouching frame. When Napoleon Sarony sailed to New York in 1868, he was accompanied by Alfred S. Campbell, who held several photographic equipment patents. They may have planned to open a photographic supply business, but New York was a very competitive place. There was widespread display when the American stage actress Adah Isaacs Menken died in August 1868, at the age of 33.2 Two years before, in Birmingham, Sarony had photographed her extensively. Some of his negatives depicted her in the character of Mazeppa dressed in a bodystocking that challenged Victorian morality. Sarony had seen the success of Nadar and Etienne Carjat (Cat. nos. 00, 00) in Paris, and Camille Silvy (Cat. no. 00) in London, and he grabbed the chance to emulate them in New York. He parlayed his sensational and lucrative Menken portraits into a studio and contracts with distributors. Sarony understood the arrangement of paying his models, sharing the profits from well-made, coveted objects. The first major celebrity to visit his studio was the tragic actress Adelaide Ristori—also photographed by Auguste Nicolas


68 Charles Roscoe Savage American, born in England, 1832–1909

Photographic Wagon in the Desert about 1870 Albumen print from wet collodion negative 19.8 × 24.6 cm (7 3/4 × 9 5/8 in.) Sheet 27.5 × 35.5 cm (10 7/8 × 13 7/8 in.) Mount Mr. and Mrs. Raymond T. Duncan Endowment for American Art, 2014.001.075

Drawn to the American West by his Mormon faith, Charles Savage became the leading pioneer photographer of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (LDS Church), and he documented the early years of Salt Lake City. The eldest of a gardener’s four children, Savage was born in the port city of Southampton, England.1 He attended school for only nine months, and then went to work to help to support his family. When he was about 13 years old he met Thomas B. H. Stenhouse, a missionary from the LDS Church who persuaded the boy to attend Sunday meetings. Savage was baptized in the harbor off Southampton quay on May 25, 1848. Stenhouse introduced the young man to photography and found a job for him in William Eddington’s stationery and bookshop.2 Over the next several years Savage dedicated himself to church service. In 1853 he took his first religious mission in Switzerland, where he was exposed to continental culture and became fluent in French and German. Back in England two years later, he was a traveling missionary in London when he met Annie Adkins. Their engagement was interrupted by a call from the LDS Church for Savage to serve as translator for a company of church members immigrating to America. In New York Savage was reunited with Stenhouse, who once again found employment for him, this time


in Booth’s Printing Office. The young man carefully saved his wages, and pawned his possessions to pay for Annie Adkins to join him in New York. They were married by LDS Apostle John Taylor in Brooklyn on June 21, 1856. By that time Savage had acquired photographic equipment, and had begun refining his technical skills. A year after their wedding, the first of a family of eight children was born in New York. The following year, LDS Church leader George Q. Cannon sent Savage on a church assignment to Florence, Nebraska Territory. When he settled in nearby Council Bluffs, Iowa, Savage improvised a primitive studio with a gray blanket for a backdrop and an old tea chest for a darkroom. Savage’s family followed him to Iowa, and together they joined a wagon train that crossed the plains to Salt Lake City later in 1860. The photographer began working with daguerreotypist Marsena Cannon in a portrait studio on East Temple Street.3 By 1862 he joined the artist George Martin Ottinger in sharing a gallery on Main Street. Savage produced ambrotype and tintype portraits, which Ottinger colored and sold alongside his own miniature portrait paintings. Their business grew steadily in the Civil War era, as the partners documented growing Salt Lake City. As more photographers began to arrive in the city, Savage became frustrated with his antiquated