This unique album contains 28 photographs by Edmond Bacot of the Gothic monuments of Caen, Rouen, and other sites in Normandy. Trained as a painter in the studio of Paul Delaroche, Bacot intended these images not merely as topographical or architectural records, but as explorations of the aesthetic potential of the new medium. In their dramatic use of shadow and light, mass and detail, Bacot's images exemplify a new, romanticized view of the Gothic, articulated most vividly in the writings and drawings of Victor Hugo. Bacot visited the great writer shortly after his exile to the Isle of Jersey in 1852, bringing goods and funds to the exile community there. Hugo greatly admired the photographs that Bacot brought and subsequently sent to him throughout the year, calling them "marvels". In 1853, Hugo's son Charles studied photography with Bacot. In admiration of his teacher's talents, Charles also prepared this album of Bacot photographs, which he called "one of the most beautiful books that has ever illustrated the most beautiful monuments."
Signatures, Inscriptions, and Markings
Inscription: Stamped in gold on front cover: "PHOTOGRAPHIES."
Edmond Bacot; Victor Hugo [?]; [...]; Edouard Lagnel, Caen
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 11," November 13, 1995–March 11, 1996.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
Chéreau, Bernard and Annick. E. Bacot, A. de Brébisson, A. Humbert de Molard: Trois Photographes en Basse-Normandie au XIXe Siècle. Caen, France: Ardi, 1989.