Beginning in the mid 1860s with this publication, and lasting until the early 1880s,Édouard Baldus (1813–1889) primary commercial activity centered on the production of photogravures, a process he first explored in 1854. This plate is part of his first major publication in gravure form, a series of 100 heliogravures published in 1866 reproducing ornamental engravings of past masters, including Aldegrever, Master IB, Beham, Boyvin, de Bry, Delanne, Durer, Ducerceau, Holbein, Jansz, Lepaurtre, van Leyden, Marot, Solis, Vico and Woeiriot. This work had nothing to do with promoting artistic photography or his own photographic work; instead it was an industrial application of photography that brought credit and financial gain to Baldus as an inventor and entrepreneur rather than an artist. Printed by Delatre.
Originally trained as a painter and having also worked as a draughtsman and lithographer before switching to photography in 1849, Baldus became a central figure in the early development of French photography and acknowledged in his day as a pioneer in the still-experimental field, was widely acclaimed both for his aesthetic sensitivity and for his technical prowess. Establishing a new mode of representing architecture and describing the emerging modern landscape with magnificent authority, he enjoyed high patronage in the 1850s and 1860s. Yet, despite the artist’s renown during his lifetime, his name is all but unknown today, his work savored only by connoisseurs. Baldus made his reputation with views of the monuments of Paris and the south of France, with dramatic landscapes of the Auvergne, with photographs of the New Louvre, and with a poignant record of the devastating floods of 1856. (source: MET).
Kate-Addleman-Frankel, After Photography, The Photogravures of Edouard Baldus Reconsidered, Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, 2018