Galerie Contemporaine is a high point in photographic publishing. Issued in parts from 1876 to 1884 by the firm of Goupil, the series contained 241 portraits of leading figures from the worlds of art, literature, music, science, and politics by a host of Parisian photographers. The illustrations were printed as woodburytypes–a photomechanical process that reproduced the continuous tones of photography but did so with permanent molded gelatin. The speed and economy with which woodburytypes could be printed, as well as their permanence, made them a highly practical substitute for albumen silver prints in book publication or other situations where mass production was desirable. Galerie Contemporaine evolved into the most impressive set of celebrity portraits published in nineteenth-century France, forming a vital visual record of the leading figures who shaped public life, in science and politics as well as the arts, during the Second Empire and the emergent Third Republic.
Émile Pereire (3 December 1800, Bordeaux – 5 January 1875, Paris) and his brother Isaac Pereire (25 November 1806, Bordeaux – 12 July 1880, Gretz-Armainvilliers) were major figures in the development of France’s finance and infrastructure during the Second French Empire. The Pereire brothers challenged the dominance of the Rothschilds in continental European finance, known at the time as haute finance. Their attempt was temporarily successful, and even though it collapsed in the late 1860s, it contributed to a more developed and vibrant economic landscape. Like the Rothschilds, the Pereires were Jews, but unlike them, they were Sephardi of Portuguese origin. (Wiki)