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Bas-relief from the Exterior of Notre Dame Fizeau, Louis Armand Hippolyte  (French, 1819-1996)

roughly translated from the original french –



Since January we have not published a single sheet of Excursions Daguerriennes; a large number of subscribers having sent us complaints on this subject, we owe them an explanation. Others us asked why we did not admit several genres, which would allow us to contribute to our work a large number of young talented artists; and we were told of the lithograph that would come, we were told, destroy the monotony which always results from a numerous collection of engravings executed by the same process, even if they were all superior. We will respond to this last observation. We will first say that it is difficult to adopt to everyone’s taste, and that having announced aquatint engravings on steel, the request made by a large number of substituting stone for steel, may well not be to the taste of a few other subscribers.

We recognize that in several plates the intelligence of the pencil would have been preferable to the profession of the aquatintist; but is there a single person who has not been fully satisfied with the magnificent boards of Mr. Hurliman, so admired by artists and all true connoisseurs? Moreover, without being exclusive, we believe that any work requires unity, a thought, and we chose aquatints because it is the kind that came closest to most of the models we had to reproduce.

Nevertheless, wanting to prove that we take the opinion into consideration, we decided to insert in our complete collection six lithographs which, we hope, will leave nothing to be desired, because we will entrust some performance to the finest artists. This separate work will allow us to complete our work for the month of December next, which would not have been possible without it; the exclusive supporters of aquatint will wish, we hopefully we absolve ourselves in favor of this cause. Now, we will justify ourselves for the delay in our publication.

For a long time now, people who are concerned with art, those who keep up to date with the news scientists, knew that they were busy transforming daguerreotype prints into engraved plates; But no (mais), although we know all the sagacity of the skillful chemist to whom we already owe gold chloride and brominated water, so many difficulties seemed insurmountable in this enterprise, that no one believed in a success: eight days ago this success became certain, and the results obtained were presented to the Academy of Sciences.

We have thought that the subscribers of Excursions Daguerriennes would be grateful to us for being the first to know about this admirable result, and we had a separate print made of a proof of one of the bas-reliefs of Notre-Dame de Paris.

We ask our subscribers to accept this first specimen, in compensation for the delay that we brought in our post.


Our subscribers will notice that the attached sheet was obtained by purely chemical means, and without any artist touch-up; we did not hesitate to present it as it is, believing that we would appreciate the immense resources that a skillful engraver could draw from such a result.

An agreement made with the author of this process authorizes us to use it for the continuation of the Excursions Daguerriennes, and we are from
present able to reproduce by this process the Daguerreotype portraits that will be made in our establishment.

MM. Opticians or provincial publishers who would like to obtain a patent assignment for the said process, are invited to contact Mr. Lerebours free of charge. MM. amateurs who would like to have prints, whether of portrait, monument or landscape, are committed to doing them on a tenth scale; they will want to leave them under iodine, avoiding exposure to light, and send them to us in this state.

(from the text accompanying the published plate roughly translated from french)



The marvelous photographic results recently obtained prove that the daguerrean processes have arrived to great perfection. Half of the problem, the most important and the most difficult, remained to be solved, namely: to obtain a number of copies, printed on paper, of the actual image affixed to the plate. Numerous tests, which remained unsuccessful, had made people despair of success, and M. Daguerre himself had judged it impossible.

The new art therefore seemed reduced to limited purpose, when M. Fizeau came to open an immense career for it by bringing this important solution to the learned and artistic world. After long experiences and constant efforts, he succeeded in transforming the Daguerrian trials into veritable plates engraved by nature.

We can imagine the importance and the boundless future of this discovery. Iconographic art will find in this process a skillful, conscientious, and infallible artist. Portraits, monuments, landscapes, paintings, drawings, engravings, lithographs and various prints, everything is his responsibility; he reproduces with equal and admirable fidelity the shapes and values ​​of tones, lights and shadows. Chemistry here replaces engravers and designers. How? ‘Or’ What to struggle with accuracy with an image drawn by the sun? We will have spent long years in laborious studies, and we will have managed to throw a whole on the paper, to give effect to a drawing, to render
near the sky, the sea, the distance, and the foliage. We then had to deliver our work to an engraver trained in patient and interminable studies, which will have to carry it over with strength, skill and talent, on copper, and we will have finally, after so much care and pain combined, a pretty thing, made with taste and art, but reproducing only approximately a drawing which itself only approximates nature. Well ! a man who will have never touched a pencil will get a proof with the daguerreotype, and by means of the chemical preparation by M. Fizeau, will make a perfect engraving of it, which, printed on paper, will reproduce with mathematical accuracy nature caught in the act.

Fortunately, there is one merit that chemistry will never take away from the artist: that of giving nature, which the daguerreotype returns, so to speak inevitably, the life, the feeling and the charm which reveal the genius helped by fertile resources of talent and imagination.

M. Fizeau applied his process to the reproduction of a bas-relief of Notre-Dame de Paris. Pious characters carry the tomb of the Virgin; two Jews who wanted to put their hand there fell deathly and their hands remain attached to the sacred sepulcher. The photographic engraving perfectly captures all the details and even the smallest traces of decay imprinted over the centuries on the stone of the old monument.

This engraving, obtained without any retouching and only by a chemical process, attests to the reality of the discovery. green, and we are pleased to applaud one of the first to the complete success of the persevering efforts of Mr. Fizeau.

Lerebours would eventually produce three such prints after the Procede de Fizeau. Apart from this bas-relief from Notre-Dame Cathedral in Paris. These include a view of the Paris city hall and the Maison Eleveé in rue St. Georges. From the point of view of media technologies, these three sheets unquestionably form the most extraordinary panels within the Excursions daguerriennes. In fact, what Lerebours’s clients got to see here was in question more than ever. The rendition strategies used in this portfolio can be interpreted overall as an exploration of the space that emerged between the daguerreotype and other graphic visual media. In these three examples produced after the Procede de Fizeau, this space narrows in a dramatic manner, so that finally the two converge on a single point.