The Alsatian born landscape painter and archaeologist Auguste Salzmann (French, 1824-1872) made his first trip to the Holy Land in 1850. On returning to Paris, he became a pupil of Gustave Le Gray and quickly mastered the waxed paper negative process and the new art of photography. At the behest of his friend and fellow archaeologist Félix de Saulcy (French, 1807-1880), Salzmann traveled to Jerusalem in 1853. He gained a commission from the Ministry of Public Instruction in 1854 to photograph the monuments and holy sites left by crusading knights. His views of Jerusalem were inspired by the work of de Saulcy. According to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Salzmann “turned to photography, creating one of the most enigmatic bodies of work of the 19th century.”
One of the first to use photography in archaeological research, Salzmann’s pictures often depict flat surfaces or isolated architectural details and are as poetic as they are realistic. After returning from the Middle East, Salzmann entrusted his paper negatives to Louis Désiré Blanquart-Evrard who printed and published a two volume work profusely illustrated with these photographs, Jérusalem. Étude et reproduction photographique des monuments de la Ville Sainte depuis l’époque judaïque jusqu’à nos jours... In 1855, Salzmann won a second place medal in Paris for his photographs of Palestine. Throughout the 1860s, Salzmann devoted himself to archaeological work in Rhodes and continued to photograph.