This curious composite is printed from two photogravure plates by Charles Nègre for Lassus’ atlas volume, Monographie de la cathédral de Chartres, published in Paris in 1867 by the Imprimerie impériale. This lavishly illustrated book consists primarily of engravings and lithographs by a variety of artists. The only three photographic images are gravures by Nègre, who was widely recognized as a master of the photogravure process.
Recognition given by the jury of the Paris Exposition Universelle (1855) brought Negre an important commission. In October of the previous year, Jean Baptiste Lassus, chief architect in charge of restoration at Chartres Cathedral, had invited Negre to dinner to show one of his damascened plates to the sculptor Auguste Preault (French 1809-1879) and Charles-Laurent Marechal (French 1801-1887), a painter. In February 1855, Lassus wrote to Taschereau, the Director of the catalogue at the Imperial Library of the Louvre, recommending the use of Negre’s photogravure process to reproduce all the architectural monuments and works of art that were in danger of being destroyed in France. By September Lassus had succeeded in having the government commission from Negre two photogravure plates of Chartres Cathedral. Three plates were eventually included in a large and luxurious volume, Monographie de la Cathedrale de Chartres, with text by Lassus, published in 1867 (Borcomen p. 42)
Heilbrun, Françoise. Charles Nègre, Photographe: 1820-1880 ; Arles, Musée Réattu, 5.7. – 17.8.1980. Paris: Éd. des musées nationaux, 1980. no. 124 (reversed, salt print).
Monographie de la Cathédrale de Chartres publiée par les soins du Ministère de l’Instruction Publique, 1867
James Borcomen, Charles Negre, 1820-1880, The National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1976, pl.156, p.211
Charles Negre, Paviotfoto, Paris, 2013, fig. 31
Heilbrun, Francoise. Charles Negre, Das photographische Werk, Schirmer/Mosel, Munich, 1988, pg 161