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Views and panoramas of Beirut and the ruins of Palmyra, 1864 ([printed] 1865-1867].

Vignes, Louis, 1831-1896 photographer.

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  • Title:
    Views and panoramas of Beirut and the ruins of Palmyra, 1864 ([printed] 1865-1867].
  • Author/Creator: Vignes, Louis, 1831-1896 photographer.
  • Creation Date: 1864 ([printed] 1865-1867].
  • Biographical/Historical Note: Louis Vignes (1831-1896) was a French naval officer who, in 1864 as a young lieutenant, accompanied Honoré Paul Joseph d'Albert, duc de Luynes, on his expedition to the Dead Sea region. Prior to his departure Vignes was trained in photography by Charles Nègre, the pioneering photographer who was sought after as a printer of photographs. After the expedition Vignes continued his dual careers as photographer and naval officer, eventually achieving the rank of vice admiral and becoming the Inspecteur général de la Marine.
  • Physical Desc.: 47 photographs : albumen prints ; 29 x 22.5 cm and smaller
  • Summary: The collection comprises photographic views of the city of Beirut, Lebanon and the ruins of the Roman city of Palmyra and the town of Al-Rastan, both in Syria. They represent the earliest photographs of the remains of Roman Palmyra and are also among the earliest photographs of Beirut.
    The 29 photographs of Palmyra include two panoramic views of the site, consisting of two and three prints respectively. The three-part panorama was taken from Diocletian's monument. Twenty-one single prints depict the site from various vantage points and show its monumental 3,000 foot-long colonnade, the triumphal arch, the temple of Bel and Temple Baal Shamin, the monument of Diocletian and the tower tombs in the Valley of the Tombs bordering the city on its south-west side.
    The city and port of Beirut, the most significant Middle Eastern trading center in the mid-nineteenth, are documented in one four-part panorama and three two-part panoramas. There are three single images depicting the cedars of Lebanon and one showing the road to Damascus. Also included is a view of a room in the house of M. Péretié, the dragoman of the French consulate and a well-known collector of antiquities. Vignes took one of his panoramas of Beirut from Péretié's home.
    The river Orontes, which flows northward from Lebanon through Syria and Turkey to the Mediterranean Sea, is the subject of two of the images related to Al-Rastan. The third photograph is a view of the expedition's (?) encampment at Al-Rastan.
  • Language: French
  • Notes: The photographs are numbered in the negative with the numbers repeated on their versos in brown ink.
    Nègre printed photographs of all of Vignes's negatives from the expedition for the duc de Luynes personal collection, presumably before his death in 1867. The present photographic prints formed part of this original set.
    The Duc de Luynes's 1864 expedition to the Dead Sea included Vignes, geologist Louis Lartet, naturalist Dr. Combe, and the duke himself, who accompanied the expedition as far as Petra before illness caused him to return to France. The expedition covered both the west and east sides of the Jordan River and the Dead Sea and, after the duke's departure, continued north to Beirut and Palmyra, areas Luynes had also commissioned Vignes to document. Vignes's photographs from the Dead Sea were reproduced as photogravures by Nègre in the duke's account of the expedition, Voyage d'exploration à la mer Morte, à Petra, et sur la rive gauche du Jourdain, published in 1875 eight years after Luynes's death.
    Charles Nègre, the French painter and pioneering photographer, studied with the academician, Paul Delaroche, who encouraged him to explore the newly-emerging medium of photography for use as a painting aid. Nègre made his first daguerreotype landscapes in 1844 and began making calotypes later that same decade. In 1851 Nègre became one of the founding members of the Société Héliographique, the first French organization dedicated to photographic endeavors. As his photographic career progressed Nègre became known for his well-crafted heliographs, a type of photogravure, and by 1856 he had patented his own version of Nicéphore Niépce's heliographic process, which he named paniconography.
  • Form/Genre: Abumen prints--Lebanon--19th century.
    Abumen prints--Syria--19th century.
    Panoramas--Lebanon--19th century.
    Panoramas--Syria--19th century.
    Photographs, Original.
  • Subjects: Antiquities, Roman--Syria. Architecture, Ancient--Syria. Beirut (Lebanon)--Description and travel. Orontes River--Description and travel. Palmyra (Syria)--Antiquities. Rastan (Syria)--Description and travel.
  • Format: Still image
  • Contributors: Nègre, Charles, 1820-1880 printer.
  • ID/Accession Number: 2015.R.15
  • Use Restrictions: Digital images and files saved from this website should be suitable for most purposes.
    For more information, see the Library Reproductions & Permissions page.

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