Musée d'Orsay: Attributed to Alexis Gouin Portrait of Alexandre Dumas

Attributed to Alexis Gouin
Portrait of Alexandre Dumas

Alexandre Dumas
Attributed to Alexis Gouin
Alexandre Dumas
Circa 1851
Coloured and gilded stereoscopic daguerreotype
H. 67; W 12.5 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Portrait d'Alexandre Dumas [Portrait of Alexandre Dumas]

Alexis Gouin, a pupil of the painters Girodet and Jean-Baptiste Regnault, began a career as a miniaturist and from 1847 onwards logically turned towards daguerreotype portraits. In 1851, he received a special award for his coloured daguerreotypes at the London World Fair. He then adopted the process of stereoscopic daguerreotype - suggesting relief when it is observed through a specially-designed looking glass - that caused a sensation on the occasion of this World Fair.
This portrait is the first photographic image of the prolific writer Alexandre Dumas, the author in particular of The Three Musketeers (1844) and of The Count of Monte Christo (1844-1845), on which he appears youthful and good-humoured, truculent and sensual. This portrait can almost certainly be attributed to Gouin, as he used the same technique to produce those of the sculptor James Pradier and of his sister Louise, both close friends of Dumas and Flaubert.

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