21 May 2016
Rome. The Temple of Vespasian and Titus and the Temple of Saturn .
Daguerreotype, 18 by 12 cm.
Executed c. 1842.
Provenance: Private collection, France.
Acquired from the above by Serge Plantureux, France.
Acquired from the above by the present owner.
Private collection, Europe.
Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804–1892), the French historian, draughtsman and one of the pioneers of photography is renowned as the master of the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Palestine, Egypt, Syria and Turkey. Born into an aristocratic family, Girault de Prangey graduated from the École des Beaux-Arts in his native Langres and in Paris, and dedicated himself to the study of architecture. He published several volumes on the subject, including a collection of engravings Monuments Arabes et Moresques de Cordoue, Séville et Grenade, dessinés et mesurés en 1832 et 1833 in 1839 and Essai sur l’architecture des Arabes et des Maures en Espagne, en Sicile et en Barbarie in 1841.
Girault de Prangey was amongst the earliest enthusiasts of the daguerreotype photographic process. He was inspired by the exceptional clarity of detail achieved by Daguerre’s method and went on to produce over 900 daguerreotypes of architectural views, portraits and landscapes during his travels in Europe and the Near East in 1841–1850. He later used some of these plates as models for lithographs in his publications on Islamic art, including Monuments arabes d’Egypte, de Syrie e d’Asie Mineure dessinés et measures de 1842–1845 in 1846 and Monuments et Paysages de l’Orient in 1851.
Girault de Prangey never exhibited during his lifetime; his output was only discovered in the 1920s, intact in the original wooden boxes, after his derelict estate was purchased by Count Charles de Simony.
The latter was responsible for compiling the inventory of Girault de Prangey’s daguerreotypes and played a decisive role in promoting the photographer’s legacy through his work and public donations to the Musée Gruérien, Bulle, Switzerland, and the Bibliothèque nationale de France in 1950.
The following six daguerreotypes offered for sale here were made by Girault de Prangey in Italy and Egypt during his extensive voyage of the Mediterranean and the Near East in 1842–1844. Like many of the early daguerreotypists, he was fascinated with the romantic subject of the ancient civilisations and Islamic architecture, which he always approached with an enquiring mind and a creative outlook. It was Girault de Prangey’s artistic merit and technical mastery that distinguished his work.
The photographer was known to use five different formats of silvered copper plates, which he achieved by cutting large plates of 19 by 24 cm to suit his artistic and practical needs. All daguerreotypes in this sale are standard half-plate format, measuring approximately 19 by 12 cm, a typical size for Girault de Prangey, one that allowed him to depict either vertical or horizontal composition. Small paper labels on the reverse of four daguerreotypes are numbered and titled by the photographer. Each daguerreotype plate is protected between two sheets of glass, sealed with paper tape at the edges.
Notes on symbols:
* Indicates 5% Import Duty Charge applies.
Ω Indicates 20% Import Duty Charge applies.
§ Indicates Artist's Resale Right applies.
† Indicates Standard VAT scheme applies, and the rate of 20% VAT will be charged on both hammer price and premium.