Paris - Le Calotype en Égypte will be exhibited by Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs at Paris Photo in the Grand Palais from 10-13 November 2016. Comprising the work of John Beasley Greene, Félix Teynard, Louis De Clercq, and others, many of the images will be on public view for the first time.
Kraus' exhibition at Paris Photo will feature a vivid and iconic waxed paper negative of The Pyramid of Menkaure by J. B. Greene (1832-1856), one of a number of rare waxed paper negatives and salt prints by Greene of sites in Egypt, Algeria, and Paris on view. In 1853, Greene made the first of two voyages to Egypt as a photographer and archaeologist whose precisely framed images documented Egyptologist Auguste Mariette's excavations around the Great Sphinx of Giza. Among Greene's Egyptian photographs are surprisingly modern looking images of newly decipherable hieroglyphics, monuments, and landscapes.
From 1855-1856, Greene produced a series of images of Constantine, an ancient city dramatically perched on a mountaintop in Algeria, represented here by some fine salt prints, the last he made before his death at the early age of 24. In Sun Pictures 23: John Beasley Greene, Eugenia Parry writes: "in the light of North Africa, [Greene] doesn't exactly represent places, even when he records houses, ruined aqueducts, roads, bridges or burial sites… This late work is about feeling. At Constantine, dwellings on a mountain seem to be outcroppings of the rocks themselves. Encroaching shadows on disgorgements of stone near a Christian tomb fill the frame. It's suffocating, even monstrous at times… Young Greene was close to dying. He wanted his pictures to look like how he felt."
Félix Teynard (1817-1892) completed an extensive photographic survey of Egypt during the course of a voyage along the Nile in 1851-2 and completed what to date was the most thorough documentation of the recently cleared site of Abu Simbel. Featured are salt prints from waxed paper negatives of Dandour, Debod, Kalabcheh, Luxor, Tafah, and negative/positive pairs of Sebouah and of Karnak.
Louis De Clercq (1836-1902) joined an expedition organized by Emmanuel-Guillaume Rey in 1859 to study Crusader architecture in Syria and Asia Minor and continued his travels through Egypt photographing architectural ruins, landscapes, cities, and rural scenes. Among the images exhibited is an albumen print from a waxed paper negative of the animated tomb Djebel-el-Selceleh, Egypt.
The calotype was part of a two-step process in which a developed paper negative produced in the camera was then used by direct contact to make multiple positive prints of the image. It was the direct ancestor of modern photography. Produced by French and British photographers eager to experiment with this new process, many of the photographs on exhibit were taken for archaeologists, some were taken to satisfy the photographers' own curiosity, but all of them appealed to armchair travelers who had only read about or seen illustrations of this ancient and distant land and were anxious to see and possess actual photographs.
Francis Frith (1822-1898), master of the wet-plate process, is represented by a mammoth-plate albumen print of his iconic The Great Pyramid and the Great Sphinx.
Works by other 19th century masters such as Ernest Benecke, Maxime Du Camp, Pierre Trémaux, and Gustave Le Gray will also be on view.
Le Calotype en Égypte will be on view at Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, Booth B8, at Paris Photo, Grand Palais, 10-13 November 2016. The telephone number at the stand is +1 917 273 4609.