Édouard Baldus (French, born Prussia, 1813–1889)
Salted paper print from glass negative
17 1/4 x 13 7/16 in. (43.9 x 34.2 cm)
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1994 (1994.137)
Of the several thousand images Baldus made at the Louvre during the period 185557, it is the large-format photographs of the principal pavilions that best demonstrate how he expanded the boundaries of his artistic achievement. Beyond admirably fulfilling their documentary function, these photographs evoke the richness and monumentality of the Louvre. They are among his most carefully crafted and clearly articulated demonstrations of photography's unparalleled capacity to represent architecture, fully exploiting the medium's ability to render the play of light, the volume of architectural forms, and the most intricate details, unmediated by picturesque convention or personal style of draftsmanship. Contact printed from glass negatives of the same size, these large prints are far sharper and smoother than an enlargement of the same size from a modern 35mm film negative, and their extreme clarity surprises and impresses us today as it did in Baldus' day.
The facade shown near completion in this photograph faces the rue de Rivoli, opposite the Palais Royal, and is now an entrance to the Louvre museum. The passageway through the principal arch leads to the glass pyramid designed by I. M. Pei.