Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg
Neo-Gothic church, drawings

Elevations of the façade of a Neo-Gothic church, drawings by the architect Hippolyte Durand
Pierre-Ambroise Richebourg (1810-vers 1875)
Elevations of the façade of a Neo-Gothic church, drawings by the architect Hippolyte Durand
Circa 1845
Daguerreotype
H. 11,8; W. 15,5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Elévations de la façade d'une église néo-gothique, dessins de l'architecte Hippolyte Durand [Elevations of the façade of a Neo-Gothic church, drawings by the architect Hippolyte Durand]


A major figure in early photography, Richebourg was, it seems, introduced to the daguerreotype by Daguerre himself. Here, he photographed two drawings by Hippolyte Durand, an architect who specialised in studying and restoring medieval architecture. These drawings were presented at the 1845 Salon and published in 1849 in Provincial Art and Archaeology under the title of Some Thoughts on Religious Art. In this article, Durand wanted to demonstrate the superiority of medieval religious art over the religious art of classical times. In fact, he wrote: "When it came to religious monuments, the moment a few bold innovators moving from theory to practice demonstrated with ease the enormous advantages of medieval art over ancient classical art, then all those living the idle life that classical art had brought them, without too much effort, were shaken out of their torpor [...] and an almost immediate revolution took place in religious buildings".
This very high quality daguerreotype reveals the precision of the architect's drawing as well as Richebourg's great technical skill. Probably taken in 1845 during the Salon, it is one of the very first known reproductions of a work of art. Therefore, this object is of great interest, as much for the personality of Durand, an active figure in diocesan architecture, as for that of the photographer. Richebourg then went on to produce many images on paper of works of art, and was one of the first to photograph the galleries of the Salon.




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