Among the CCA’s examples of nineteenth century photographic observation is an album of 48 plates made by Baron Alexis de Lagrange (1820-1880) during an Indian excursion of 1849-1950, an exceptionally early endeavour by a European photographer in Asia. The album surveys Hindu and Muslim temples and palaces in Northern India. Lagrange’s interest reflects the fascination of French artists and intellectuals with this early civilization. “Tout nous vient des bords du Gange,” Voltaire had written, and the nineteenth century saw the increased translation of sacred Sanskrit texts. Travelling in this hot climate, Lagrange used the wet-paper negative process mastered by the French printer Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Évrard, who published five of these photographs in his Album photographique de l’Artiste et de l’Amateur (1851) – virtually the only previously known record of Lagrange’s work.

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