Wednesday, June 06, 2007

The worlds oldest darkroom?



Apparently, when Joseph Fortuné Petiot-Groffier (known as one of the pioneers of photography) died in 1855 - his darkroom in Chalon-sur-Saône in Burgundy was simply abandoned and the door closed. His heirs and successors never did anything with that part of the house and just left it locked up. Upon the death of the last of his family two years ago it was eventually found that the whole darkroom was still fully intact - complete with bottles of chemicals, apparatus and everything a photographer in 1855 needed.


From Luminous-Lint :

Petiot-Groffier practiced daguerrotypy in 1840, after which he traveled to India. In the 1850s, he began to use albumen and collodion, and later came to prefer the calotype process with which he produced his best work.

In the year 1854, Petiot-Groffier had become a founding member of Societe Francaise de Photographie, and that summer, he traveled with Baldus through Auvergne in central France. At the time, Petiot-Groffier was a sugar beet-refiner, inventor, entrepreneur, and politician, and he had renewed his interest in photography. During this trip, he worked in very close collaboration with Baldus, who was twenty-five years his junior. Despite their age difference, Baldus considered Petiot-Groffier his "best student." Together they worked their way through the countryside, carefully choosing motifs together, such as thatched huts, forest scenes, and generally the physical character of the Auvergne area. Baldus had never directed his artistic vision towards common architecture or unpopulated landscapes, and so much of the subject matter from the Auvergne journey was new compared to his prior photographic experience. Certain prints are signed by both photographers, and because of their extremely similar styles - even considered identical, at times - it is difficult to tell their work apart from one another.

Thanks to Ted Stoddard on the LF List. All the stories I could find so far are in French. (The original French newspapaer page has disappeared. Here's a link to the - at times rather funny - google translation). Of course, I'm assuming France doesn't have some kind of april fools day in early June...


3 comments:

marja-leena said...

This is a fascinating story! I wonder if his darkroom has been saved as a museum? I need to brush up on my French...

Thanks for the link; have been reading your blog for a month or three.

tim atherton said...

As far as I could tell between my bad French and the google translator, the Niepce Museum has taken over dealing with and preserving it.

Spencer said...

This boggles my mind. What a treasure it could be.

Unfortunately, it appears that some of the stories that you linked to have "expired".