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Adolphe Braun’s Photographic Adventures

The Musée Unterlinden in Colmar is showcasing an exhibition of salted paper, albumen and carbon prints by the French photographer

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The Musée Unterlinden, in the Alsacian city of Colmar, was holding on to a treasure trove of prints and negatives by Adolphe Braun — that’s 10,500 glass plates and 55,000 prints. The French photographer, who was active from 1851 to 1877, was a master of processes such as wet-plate collodion on glass negatives, dry-plate collodion, salted paper prints, albumen prints and carbon prints.

Fortunately, a part of the archive is now out on display: in partnership with the Munich Stadtmuseum, the institution is presenting Photographic Adventures, an exhibition showcasing 200 photographs taken during Braun’s world trips. The exhibition is divided into ten sections, with themes such as flower photography, the Alsace region, mountain landscapes and Egypt.

These images are complemented by 19th century paintings from artists like Gustave Courbet, Ernest Meissonier and Claude Monet, in a selection that links painting and printmaking.

Why printmaking? Braun was known as the Gutenberg of the art world: he was the man responsible from converting photography from a small-scale studio art into a veritable large-scale business. His company, the largest in Europe on matters of artwork reproduction, was a pioneer in the mass reproduction of photographic prints. In other words, this Kevin Systrom of the 19th century was also a pioneer in democratising photography.

Photographic Adventures is on display until May 14

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Bouquet de pieds-d'alouette et de digitales (1855) Private collection
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Troupeau de moutons s’abreuvant (1858) Münchner Stadtmuseum, Sammlung Fotografie
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Vallée de Lauterbrunnen. La chute de Staubbach (1875) Private collection
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Alpinistes sur le glacier de Morteratsch (1875) Private collection
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Ruines des Tuileries (1871) Colmar, Musée Unterlinden
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