Taureau de Mariahof (test) Nadar (Gaspard-Félix Tournachon)  (French, 1820-1910)

This is an unusual photomechanical print. It was acquired from the family of Charles Négre and was an image he is credited with as a photogravure. It does not seem to be a photogravure though. The paper appears clay coated with a hard surface and there is no differential gloss. In fact the areas of ink have a luster surface. There is obvious roulette work on the print suggesting that it was an intaglio process at some point and there is a plate impression as well. We are seeking information about this mystery if you can help. (see https://photogravure.com/identification-guide/)

In the month of May, 1856, the Imperial Government opened in Paris the first universal agricultural competition which had been held in France. It would be useful to seize this opportunity to have the best types of foreign breeding reproduced in an album. Mr. Baudement, professor of zootechnics at the Conservatoire des arts et métiers and member of the jury, was in charge of this publication and associated himself with ‘excellent artists for these reproductions’ (taken from the dedication). A multitude of renowned artists and engravers collaborated in the enterprise which lasted almost 10 years from 1856 to 1864. Complete with 87 fine plates of cattle races. The plates are based on photographs by Adrien Tournachon ("Nadar jeune" half brother of Félix Nadar), Tournachon’s prints served as models for the illustrations, which were redesigned and otherwise embellished by such known painters as Rosa Bonheur and Constant Troyo. Apparently the drawings were transferred onto a plate by Riffaut (the known collaborator of Niepce de Saint-Victor) but he died before finishing the work, and Baudement turned over the task to other engravers and photoengravers, including Charles Negre. The final results are so misleading that it is impossible to guess that the original models were photographs. (Marbot, After Daguerre P. 168)

Tournachon’s prints served as models for the illustrations, which were redesigned and otherwise embellished by such known painters as Rosa Bonheur and Constant Troyo. Apparently the drawings were transferred onto a plate by Riffaut (the known collaborator of Niepce de Saint-Victor) but he died before finishing the work, and Baudement turned over the task to other engravers and photoengravers, including Charles Negre. The final results are so misleading that it is impossible to guess that the original models were photographs.