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"J'en emporte avec moi l'empreinte précieuse et incontestablement fidèle, que le temps ni l'espace ne peuvent affaiblir, et c'est ici qu'il faut remercier avec la plus vive reconnaissance notre compatriote Daguerre, à jamais illustré par son admirable découverte."
Letter from Girault de Prangey to Artaud de Montor, Beyrouth, 4 August 1844.
Girault de Prangey arrived in Jerusalem in May, one hundred and sixty years ago, and proceeded to make an extensive series of daguerreotypes. He photographed the Biblical sites outside the city and views of the city from some of these locations. He also photographed the city walls and gates and the monuments of the Temple Mount or Haram al-Sharif. As a Christian with a passion for Islamic architecture his interest was perhaps more wide-ranging and balanced than that of many later photographers. He enjoyed a freedom that would not necessarily have been shared by others who were often working to more restricted briefs. His most extensive series of pictures was of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, which he studied in considerable detail. He was the first artist since the invention of photography to attempt such a survey of the city's historic architecture and the only one working with the daguerreotype process. His work precedes that of George Wilson Bridges, who produced the first series of calotype negatives in Jerusalem, by five years.
For an account of Girault de Prangey's Jerusalem daguerreotypes and the work of other early photographers in Jerusalem see Nir, The Bible and the Image, Part One, Chapters 1 and 2.