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"All lovers of daguerreotypes are spellbound beings" - so remarked Grant Romer with reference to the book, Secrets of the Dark Chamber. Undoubtedly all lovers of Girault de Prangey's unique daguerreotypes will wonder who was the man behind the dark chamber? To acquaint ourselves with Girault de Prangey we have to let the plates talk to us.
The first subjects to attract Girault de Prangey as a photographer in 1841 were his home and the landscape of the surrounding area (see lot 3). From here he ventured to the cities of his native Burgundy and to Paris, where he first made daguerreotypes in 1841. Unsurprisingly, his primary theme was the most celebrated monuments of the capital, especially the Cathedral of Notre Dame, which appears to have accounted for half of his output from the city. He also made photographs of the Tour St. Jacques, the Palais des Tuileries (see lot 2) and of the frozen fountain of the Chateau d'Eau (see lot 1). The series of Notre Dame views in the collection of the Bibliothèque nationale de France, introduces the notion of the artist assembling a visual inventory of his subject, rather than simply choosing a single preferred view, which might be considered more typical. The views of the frozen fountain and of the trees and rocks on his estate often reveal a more picturesque approach, less obviously concerned with the descriptive clarity he sought in his architectural photographs.
He also made daguerreotypes in Langres, Chaumont, Troyes and Marseille.