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The Heliographic Mission
The Heliographic Mission

In 1851, five photographers laden with heavy and cumbersome equipment travelled the length and breadth of France, documenting the remains of historical monuments, many of which had been damaged or neglected during the Revolution. Baldus, Bayard, Le Gray, Le Secq and Mestral, who were already well-known at the time, were appointed by the Committee for Historical Monuments to carry out the first collective public sector commission in the history of photography, "The Heliographic Mission".
Each photographed in their own fashion churches, bridges, ancient theatres and castles in order to give a full account of the architectural heritage of France. The Committee bought 258 prints to assist in their protection and restoration activities, but the project also led to the birth of a new genre: architectural photography, a combination of art and documentation.
Le Gray Gustave (1820-1884)
Mestral Auguste (1812-1884)
Paris, musée d'Orsay
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