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Born into an Alsatian family of painters, Salzmann began his career as a painter and exhibited his work at the Salon in 1847, 1848 and 1850. His keen interest in archaeology led him to travel to Palestine as early as 1850-51 as a draughtsman for a French expedition to the East. Upon returning to Paris in 1851, Salzmann took up photography primarily as an aid to his archaeological research.
In 1854, he was commissioned by the Ministry of Public Instruction to visit Egypt, Syria, Palestine and the islands of the Archipelago to study the locations of the Crusades and to photograph historical monuments left by the knights of the Order of Saint John in Jerusalem and Rhodes. He returned to Paris in the middle of that year with over 200 paper negatives of which 174 were printed by Blanquart-Evrard's printing establishment Imprimerie Photographique and published in 1856 in two volumes by Gide and Baudry as Jérusalem. Etude et reproduction photographique des monuments de la Ville Sainte depuis l'époque judaïque jusqu'à nos jours par Auguste Salzmann, chargé par le Ministère de l'instruction publique d'une mission scientifique en Orient.
From 1858 to 1867, Salzmann devoted himself to archaeological work in Rhodes and continued to photograph. In 1863, he embarked on his second photographic trip to Jerusalem.
The ten photographs offered here were printed in 1856 for Salzmann's seminal publication Jérusalem. 'Blanquart-Evrard' process print - a modification of Talbot's calotype process to produce a developed-out paper print - was introduced in 1847 by the French photographer and founder of Imprimerie Photographique Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard
Salzmann's artistry as a painter-photographer combined with his precison as an archaeologist created a unique vision. These early photographs of the Holy Land are more than precise documents; they are works of art which exude emotional power.