The Monumental Photographic Journey of Girault de Prangey on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art



Self-portrait Birault de Prangey

Take a photographic journey back in time at The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s exhibition Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey ~ a display of Girault’s daguerreotype process using oversized plates and innovative formats to produce what is today the world’s oldest photographic archive. This is the first exhibition in the United States devoted to Girault, focusing on his Mediterranean journey, with this exhibit featuring approximately 120 of his daguerreotypes, supplemented by examples of his graphic work, watercolors, paintings, and his lithographically illustrated publications.

The featured image, a self-portrait at the top of this post was taken in 1841 in Paris, where Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804-1892) first practiced the daguerreotype at his villa outside Langres. Girault went on to announce his intention to study monuments of the Mediterranean, and departed Paris with more than one-hundred pounds of photographic equipment, plates, and chemicals in February 1842. His preferred way of travel was by steamship, partially documented in letters indicating that he made more than three hundred daguerreotypes by the time he left the city in mid-July.

The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey

His excursion throughout the Eastern Mediterranean lasted three-years. The images he created are the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Lebanon, Syria and Jerusalem and among the first daguerreotypes depicting Italy. From this excursion he created over 900 daguerreotypes of architectural views, landscapes and portraits.

When he returned to France, he focused on the studies of watercolor and pen-and-ink, and published a small-edition book of lithographs from them. In addition, he was a collector of exotic plants. Girault de Prangeyt didn’t exhibit or make his photographs known during his lifetime. However in 2003, Sheik Saud Al-Thani of Qatar purchased a daguerreotype of Girault de Prangey for just over $922,000.

Related programming includes Exhibition Tours and Lectures.

The extensive exhibition, Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey, will be on view to May 12, 2019 at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1000 Fifth Avenue in NYC.