Beginning in the mid-1860s and lasting until the early 1880s – in other words, for more than half his career as a photographer – Baldus’s primary commercial activity centered on the production of photogravures, a process that he had first explored in 1854.
In 1855, Baldus was commissioned to photograph the work site of the New Louvre, documenting for architect Hector Lefuel every piece of statuary and ornamentation made for the vast complex linking the Louvre and Tuileries palaces. As individual records, these photographs served a practical function on the work site by keeping track of the hundreds of plaster models and carved stones sculpted for the project. Baldus’ photographs were assembled in albums of salt and albumen prints (four volumes in each set) and presented by the emperor to government ministers, the imperial family, and the reigning monarchs of Europe.
Baldus published the Louvre series as photogravures issued in installments beginning in 1869. It was his first publication containing his own photographs in photogravure. His process yielded richly inked, velvety textured prints with an extraordinary clarity and fineness of detail, which he often heightened with etched lines added by hand. The three volumes of Palais du Louvre et des Tuileries, each with 100 plates, parallel the photographic albums made earlier for the minister of state in presenting sculptural and ornamental details as well as few larger architectural views.
Vols. 1-2 were originally issued in 1869-1871; vol. 3 was issued in conjunction with a reissue of the first two vols., all under the title: Palais du Louvre et des Tuileries : motifs de décoration intérieure et extérieure. Two volumes, each with one hundred plates, focused on interior and exterior decoration. Because of the success of the first two volumes, a third, showing both interior and exterior motifs, was produced, and the three-volume set was published by Morel in 1875. Morel announced publication of the first two installments of the third series in Bibliographie de France on March 20, 1875, and the third and final installment on October 2, 1875. –Malcolm Daniel, The photographs of Edouard Baldus (1994), p. 272, note 259
Addleman-Frankel, Kate, Saskia Asser, and Édouard Baldus. After Photography?: The Photogravures of Édouard Baldus Reconsidered. , 2018. fig. fig. 23 (alt plate)
Daniel, Malcom, and Barry Bergdoll. The Photographs of Édouard Baldus. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994. . 272, note 259
Daniel, Malcolm. “Édouard Baldus (1813–1889).” In Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000–. metmuseum.org/toah/hd/bald/hd_bald.htm (October 2004)
This work is featured in more detail, in the collection highlights.