Oct 23, 2007

Notre-Dame, Paris

Notre-Dame, Paris


Édouard Baldus

(French, 1813–1889)

Salted paper print from wet collodion negative

Image: 29.5 x 44.7 cm (11 5/8 x 17 5/8 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)

Edwin R. and Harriet Pelton Perkins Memorial Fund 1991.35



This extraordinary photograph clearly demonstrates Baldus’s genius both as an architectural photographer and as a printer. Centrally placed and filling the entire composition, this great architectural monument is clearly depicted, seemingly removed from time, as there are no interfering elements such as figures or clouds to distract from the building’s majesty. This large, ambitious view captures, almost without rival, the physical and symbolic essence of Notre-Dame. Instead of the traditional frontal view, Baldus photographed the building at an oblique angle in order to articulate the volume of the structure, and he was most conscious of the negative space created by the cathedral’s contour against the unmodulated sky. His salt prints of architectural views, with their breathtaking warm gray tones, are among the most striking achievements of 19th-century photography.

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