Tag Archives: XIX Century

New early views of Venezuela, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

We just acquired this amazing album of early views of Venezuela, mostly Anzoategui and Vargas states, dated 1890. It comes from a Corsican family, probably a member, or a friend, of the Dominici family. The Dominici emigrated to Venezuela in the late 18th century and settled in Sucre state. They gave a least three importants venezuelians : Anibal Dominici (1837-1897) lawyer and politician, first Minister of Education of Venezuela ; Santos Dominici (1869-1954) prominent doctor and writer ; Pedro Cesar Dominici (1873-1954), writer and diplomat.

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

The owner of this album was most likely an engineer, with a strong interest in metallic structures.

As far as we know, most of these prints are unique.

Caribe indians

Caribe indians

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Quebrada de Guanta

The beach of  Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas, Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

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https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santos_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_César_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anìbal_Dominici

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The album of the baron d’Huart, circa 1863-1867

We just acquired a very interesting album of just ten prints that is the perfect follow up to our last post, as it includes one photograph featured in the collection of the comte de Germigny. All the prints are approximately of the same size, and obviously from the same photographer.

River crossing at poso del Marcho.

River crossing at poso del Marcho. The other prints of this image in our collection are titled “paseo del Diablo”

Luckily, the ex libris of the baron d’Huart is pasted on the first page of the album.

Ex libris of the baron Charles d'Huart

Ex libris of the baron d’Huart

But here’s the rub. TWO barons d’Huart participated in the Campagne du Mexique.

Arguably the most famous is Frédéric d’Huart, aide de camp of the count of Flanders. Frédéric was send to Mexico in January 1866 from Bruxelles to officially notify the empress Charlotte of the death of her father Leopold. On his way back from Mexico City to Vera Cruz, in march 1866, Frederic was killed by the Mexican guerilla. It is unlikely that he had time, on such a short and rushed stay, to gather photographic prints, even less to photograph himself.

We found a trace of the other d’Huart in the archives of the Commission Scientifique du Mexique (again…).

Charles d’Huart, a distant cousin of Frédéric, is from the French branch of the Huart family. Born in 1823 in the castle of Bélange, in eastern France, he graduates from école Polytechnique in 1846. In 1864, he is mentioned as a “capitaine d’artillerie” and a member of the Commission du Mexique, section 1, Zoology and Botany. In November 1867 he receives the medal of the order of Guadalupe. He is killed in 1870 during the siege of Strasbourg. He is probably the former owner of our album – and quite probably the photographer. We will soon check his records in the archive of the French army to learn more about this new name in the history of Mexican photography.

Vera Cruz, view from the sea

Vera Cruz, view from the sea

Vera Cruz, view of the beach and the pier.

Vera Cruz, view of the beach and the pier.

Vera Cruz, the hospital

Vera Cruz, the hospital

Soledad fort (?)

Soledad fort (?)

The gorge of the Soledad river

The gorge of the Soledad river

The road from Vera Cruz to Mexico city

The road from Vera Cruz to Mexico city

The Gallifet mentioned in the caption is certainly Gaston de Gallifet, a colorful character who will later be Minister of War. (cf en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gaston_Alexandre_Auguste,_Marquis_de_Galliffet)

Oak tree in Medellin, near Vera Cruz

Oak tree in Medellin, near Vera Cruz

An hacienda, near Medellin

An hacienda, near Medellin

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Previously unknown views of Mexico, 1862-1867

The Aztec calendar

The Aztec calendar

In our previous post, we were able to attribute to Louis Edouard Roussel, a French soldier, eight photographic prints dated from 1863. Those prints were previously in the collection of Lieutenant Antoine Le Begue de Germiny, who served as a chief of staff officer in Mexico from early 1864 to early 1867. We bought, from the same provenance, a stunning album of over thirty albumen prints, in near perfect condition. Most of the images were previously unknown. They are obviously the work of a French soldier but more importantly of a skilled and talented photographer.

View of the Zocalo, Mexico city

View of the Zocalo, Mexico City

Palazzo de la MIneria, Mexico City

Palacio de la Minería, Mexico City

Palacio nacional, Mexico city

Palacio Nacional, Mexico City

Castle and park of Chapultepec

Castle and park of Chapultepec

Detail : soldier on the bridge in the park of Chapultepec

Detail : soldier on the bridge in the park of Chapultepec

The headquarter of the French army in Mexico City.

The headquarters of the French army in Mexico City

The garden of the headquarter of the French army in Mexico City.

The garden of the headquarters of the French army in Mexico City

Cathedral and Zocalo of Puebla

Cathedral and Zocalo of Puebla

Street view of Queretaro

Street view of Querétaro

Palacio de San Luis Potosi

Palacio de San Luis Potosí

The following photographs seem to indicate that our soldier was more than a skilled photographer. His view of the castle of Chapultepec, barely visible behind the lake of the park, is oddly reminiscent of some Barbizon views from the same time. With little documentary value, it looks more like an artistic attempt, a “délassement”.

We know, through the archives of the Commission Scientifique du Mexique, of two more officers who were asked to practice photography in Mexico. A lieutenant Riffault and a lieutenant Laure Henri Gaston Galard de Bearn. Both could be the author of these photographs.

The jury is still out, but we will keep you posted soon.

View of the castle of Chapultepec

View of the castle of Chapultepec

The park of Tehuantepec

The park of Tehuantepec

An antique shop set up for Good Friday

An antique shop set up for Good Friday

 

1865: Portraits of the Kickapoo’s Delegation Visit to the Court of Maximilian by François Aubert

Visit of the Kickapoo Indian tribe to Maximilian in Mexico City in 1865.

Chief of the Kickapoo tribe, Mexico City, 1865. Note the paper in his hand. Is it the decree signed by Maximilian?

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Between January and March of 1865 a delegation of the Kickapoo tribe traveled from northern Mexico to Mexico City in order to meet Emperor Maximilian and discuss territorial matters and seek land rights as well as protection against attacks from other hostile tribes and deserting American soldiers raiding in their territory near Rio Grande.

“Last week we received at the palace a deputation of real, heathen Indians from the northern frontier, regular Fenimore Cooper figures in the true sense of the word. They had dinner here yesterday in Montezuma’s cypress grove, on the very place where the Indian emperor used to hold his great banquets,” wrote Maximilian to his brother in Vienna. [1]

The Kickapoo Indians, an Algonkian-speaking group of fewer than 1,000 individuals scattered across Texas, Oklahoma, Kansas, and northern Mexico, are the remnants of a larger tribe that once lived in the central Great Lakes region. When first encountered by French explorers in the early 1640s, the Kickapoos, or Kiikaapoa, as they call themselves, were still living in the region between lakes Michigan and Erie-the area considered to have been their ancestral home. By the 1660s, however, they were seeking refuge in what is now Wisconsin. The Kickapoos were an independent and self-sufficient people whose mode of life was well adapted to their rich environment, and were by then semi-nomadic.

Nonetheless, over the next two centuries, the pressures of white expansion, Indian removal policies, and the escalating cycle of frontier violence forced the Kickapoos into a series of relocations, divisions, and reassociations. By the mid-nineteenth century the tribe had been displaced from western Missouri amid Civil War conflict and they divided into three distinct groups-the Kansas Kickapoos, the Oklahoma Kickapoos, and the group known as either the Mexican Kickapoos or the Texas Band of the Oklahoma Kickapoos that journeyed through Texas and into Mexico.

Nowadays, the biggest group of Kickapoos are located in El Nacimiento, Mexico. However, they are still considered a semi-nomadic tribe and depending on the season they move back and forth between Mexico and the United States in search of job opportunities.

They have always regarded themselves as a nation unto themselves, over the years they have migrated across the international border with little regard for political boundaries. Mexico and the United States, in turn, have informally granted the Kickapoos the privilege to seek employment in both countries by giving them, in effect, dual citizenship. Consequently, the tribe is free to cross and re-cross the border at will.

The conference between the Kickapoos and Maximilian in 1865 created a major sensation in the press in a quickly modernizing Mexico. It was documented in several writings and paintings over the years – the most important being that by Jean Adolphe Beaucé – but there are only a handful of photographs that show record of the Kickapoo people in Mexico City.

The images we have seen so far from this visit are: a portrait of the entire delegation, a portrait of two of the men and a portrait of two women and a baby; all part of the Getty Research Institute’s collection that you can find below.

Indios Kikapos, [between 1865 and 1867]

Indios Kikapos, [between 1865 and 1867]. Getty Research Institute.

[Kickapoo Indians], 1865

Kickapoo Indians, 1865. Getty Research Institute.

Indias Kikapoas, 1865.

Indias Kikapoas, 1865. Getty Research Institute.

This past week we acquired, together with a colleague, four portraits of the chief of the Kickapoos and fellow members of the tribe made by François Aubert during the tribe’s short stay in Mexico City. Aubert, active in Mexico from 1864 to 1869, was working as a court photographer at the time. The Kickapoos must have looked remarkably exotic to him, and so he must have rushed to photograph them while he had the opportunity.

We knew the delegation had taken place, and we had seen Aubert’s group photo before but our interest peaked when we saw the lovely portrait of the two African American men. Who were they? What was their connection to the tribe?

Visit of the Kickapoo Indian tribe to Maximilian in Mexico City in 1865.

Three African Americans from Texas accompanied them to translate their petitions into English, and Maximilian assured them that the French army would help protect them as subjects of the empire.

This enigma was solved by the following excerpt written by the botanist Wilhelm Knechtel in his book Las Memorias del Jardinero de Maximiliano; based on his personal memoirs of his years in Mexico working as Maximilian’s gardener from 1864 to 1867.

“…five men and four women, one of them with a child. They were wrapped in red and blue serapes, fantastic head ornaments of feathers, leather, ribbons and glass, and they walked with solemnity through Chapultepec Park, the women with their heads bare. The chief was an old man. From his neck hung a symbol of his authority: a great silver medallion with an engraving of a jaguar and a commemorative coin of Louis XV of France… They brought with them three black men from Texas as their translators. These spoke the Kickapoo language, but no Spanish nor French, only English, a language which the emperor and empress spoke perfectly. The emperor received them very kindly and then had them served a meal in the park, at the entrance to the grand boulevard; the plates were put directly on the ground. In a circle, the Kickapoos knelt down and ate with their hands.”[2]

Chief of the Kickapoos

Close up – The medal worn by the chief mentioned in Wilhelm Knechtel’s colorful memoir is a Louis XV peace medal awarded to his tribe a century earlier by the French.

Visit of the Kickapoo Indian tribe to Maximilian in Mexico City in 1865.

Visit of the Kickapoo Indian tribe to Maximilian in Mexico City in 1865.

These photographs are considered unique.

We have searched the collections of the Getty Research Institute, Quai Branly Museum, BNF, Ransom Center and other international museums, and they are nowhere to be seen. The closest, which are clearly from the same series, are the ones shown above found at the Getty; but our photographs are still one of a kind.


[1] Amberson, Mary Margaret McAllen. Maximilian and Carlota: Europe’s Last Empire in Mexico. N.p.: n.p., n.d. Print. p. 169

[2] Knechtel, Wilhelm, Amparo Gómez Tepexicuapan, and Susanne Igler. Las Memorias Del Jardinero De Maximiliano: Apuntes Manuscritos De Mis Impresiones Y Experiencias Personales En México Entre 1864 Y 1867. México, D.F.: Instituto Nacional De Antropología E Historia, 2012. Print.

Issues of Authorship in 19th Century Mexican Photography

Ancien mexicana cargando leña by François Aubert

Getty Research Institute: Ancien mexicana cargando leña by François Aubert circa 1865 and 1867.

For years photography researchers have struggled with the oh, so familiar question: who is the author of this photograph? Who is the person responsible for the intellectual content of an image? Who are the rightful owners of the images: the photographer or those who publish them? We’re not going to delve too deep into that subject and try to find the right answers to those questions, but we’ve found ourselves right smack in the middle of this ongoing debate.

This is a difficult post to write because unfortunately we have more open-ended questions than answers for our recent discoveries.

Firstly, we will state the facts and later we will list all the questions.

Fact #1: Photographers have never been very good at registering their own work since the beginning of the craft in 1839. At this time it was editors and publishers whom were more likely to do so; hence the confusion about a lot of signatures and authorship.

Fact #2: There is an album called “Souvenir du Mexique, circa 1860” found in a private collection in Mexico with 29 albumen prints. In most of these prints we can find descriptions, annotations or signatures by photographers François Aubert and J.J. Buis. 17 of these photographs are attributed to J.J. Buis.

Fact #3: There is an album with 17 albumen prints at the Société française de photographie (SFP) in Paris credited to J.J. Buis. The album is called “Vues du Mexique.” 16 of these prints’ titles match the ones in the album “Souvenir du Mexique, circa 1860”. However, of the 17, only one is signed by J.J. Buis: Village de Miacatlan, 32 lieux de Mexico (Fig. 2); none are credited to Aubert.

Village de Miacatlan, 32 lieux de Mexico.

Fig. 1 – SFP: Village de Miacatlan, 32 lieux de Mexico. Signed by J.J Buis.

Fig 2 - Private Mexican Collection: Village de Miacatlan, 32 lieux de Mexico. Signed also by Buis.

Fig 2 – Close up of signature. Private Mexican Collection: Village de Miacatlan, 32 lieux de Mexico. Signed by J.J. Buis.

Fact #4: A decade worth of SFP bulletins were searched to establish the provenance of the album “Vues du Mexique”. Buis was never a member of the SFP and we do not know who donated it.

Fact #5: Several photographs from these two albums have been found in others credited to Désiré Charnay or Julio Michaud. However, we found a signature by Alphonse Pestel. You can see an example of this with fig. 4 and fig. 5.

Mexico. Vue prise sur les terrasses.

Fig 4 – Musée du Quai Branly: Mexico. Vue prise sur les terrasses. By Désiré Charnay.

Mexico. Vue prise sur les terrasses.

Fig 4 – Private Mexican Collection: Mexico. Vue prise sur les terrasses. Credited to Charnay but signed by Pestel.

Mexico. Vue prise sur les terrasses.

Fig 5 – Close up on signature of fig. 4.

Fact #6: Alphonse Pestel was a French photographer active in the 1860s and 1870s. He had a studio in Paris in 3, Boulevard Bonne-Nouvelle. Of J.J. Buis, we have no further information.

Pestel's signature.

Fig. 6 – Close up of Pestel’s signature on a different photograph.

Fact #7: In the Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Toussaint we can find the photograph “Mexico= Capilla protestante en Sn Francisco” (fig. 7) attributed to Charnay but signed by Pestel. At the Museum Quai Branly the same image is called “Mexico. Portail de San Francisco” (fig. 8) and it is credited to Charnay. However, this one does not have the Pestel signature. We can find it for a third time at the Getty’s archive but this time captioned Puerta de San Francisco, [between 1865 and 1867]” (fig. 9) with the author as Pestel.

To our knowledge, the Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Toussaint has never mentioned Pestel in their findings and studies. And neither has the Quai Branly in their research about Charnay.

"Mexico= Capilla protestante en Sn Francisco-"

Fig. 7 – UNAM, Archivo Fotográfico Manuel Toussaint: “Mexico= Capilla protestante en Sn Francisco-” by Charnay.

Mexico. Portail de San Francisco

Fig. 8 – Musée du Quai Branly: Mexico. Portail de San Francisco by Charnay.

Puerta de San Francisco, [between 1865 and 1867]

Fig 9 – Getty Research Institute: Puerta de San Francisco, [between 1865 and 1867] by Pestel.

Fact #8: The photographs signed by Pestel always seem to be copy prints of larger prints. He is known to have published several cartes de visite of Mexico. The Getty also has an album titled “Mexique, 1865., [1864-ca. 1867]where the contributors are, E. Leroy, Pestel, and François Aubert. No digital reproductions of this album are available.

Fact #9: Some of the photographs in all these albums and collections have been credited to five different photographers: Désiré Charnay, Julio Michaud, François Aubert, Alphonse Pestel and J.J. Buis. For example: some Charnay signed by Pestel, thought to be Auber signed by Buis.

Here is a more visual representation of the connections between them:

Michaud – Charnay

Charnay – Pestel

Auber – Buis

Buis – Michaud

 

Queries:

-Who is J.J. Buis? What is his connection to François Aubert? What is the provenance of the album at the SFP? How is a photograph from Buis/Aubert found in an album by Michaud? Was Buis ever in Mexico?

-When did Pestel arrive to Mexico? When did he leave? What was he doing there? Why and how is Pestel linked to Michaud? Did he actually work in Mexico or just copy larger prints by Charnay and Aubert?

One thing we do believe (even with no exact proof) is that neither Pestel nor Buis were the authors of any of these images. So then, who was? We think most of Buis’s, if not all, are by Aubert and most of Pestel’s, if not all, are by Charnay.


If you’re interested in a deeper study of this subject we recommend a very interesting read in Spanish on the construction of social history with the help of photography written by Fernando Aguayo Hernández, professor and researcher at the Instituto Mora Area of Oral History in Mexico. Starting on page 15 of the pdf he undertakes the subject of authorship vs publishing; and in page 18 he writes about Michaud as an editor and the reproduction of images by different people, including Pestel.