Literature: Malcolm Daniel, Edouard Baldus photographe, Paris, New-York, Montreal, Ed. de la RMN, Metropolitan Museum of Art, Centre Canadien d'architecture, 1994, p187
This is one of Baldus's most famous Parisian images.
Due to the strength of his architectural imagery and work with the Mission heliographique, Baldus would go on to gain the support of a government commission, Les Villes de France Photographies, which focused on the landmarks of Paris in particular. This impressive image of the Madeleine church, built in a Neo-Classical style in the mid-eighteenth century, is displays an exceptional tonal range, resulting from his paper negative process.
By 1851 Baldus had developed his own refinement to the paper negative process, a method he outlined in his pamphlet Concours de photographie (May 1852). Baldus wrote at length of 'the sharpness and clarity of the images, promptness of execution (when necessary, a fairly durable fixing of the negative) and finally a convenient arrangement of the equipment.process was so successful that contemporaries remarked on the exceptional sharpness that Bladus achieved from his paper negatives, which were praised as having 'all the clarity of glass'.
Baldus achieves an interesting balance in this image of the Madeleine. Although the church itself is impressive in size, it is Baldus' attention to detail, most noticeably in the intricate geometry of the stonework, that is even more impressive. The man who sits on the bench serves to enhance the imposing nature of the structure, but simultaneously conveys a quiet intimacy.
This photograph may be compared to another print of the subject in the Musee Carnavalet in Paris.