Monumental Journey


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The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey

Stephen C. Pinson; With contributions by Sylvie Aubenas, Olivier Caumont, Silvia A. Centeno, Thomas Galifot, Nora W. Kennedy, Grant B. Romer, Martina Rugiadi, Andrea E. Schlather, Lindsey S. Stewart, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, and Ariadna Cervera Xicotencatl

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The first extensive exploration of the groundbreaking daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey, whose work features the earliest known images of the great monuments and sites of the eastern Mediterranean

In 1842, the pioneering French photographer Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804–1892) set out eastward across the Mediterranean with a custom-built camera to explore ancient lands that were largely unknown to the Western world. This book is the first to fully consider the hundreds of daguerreotypes that resulted from his three-year journey, many of which were made using innovative techniques that fascinate photographers to this day. The images, including the first-known photographic documentation of significant locations, offer tangible evidence of historic sites, many of which have since been destroyed, in places such as Greece, Italy, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Jerusalem. They are remarkable and unparalleled portraits of a world gone by.
Copiously illustrated and featuring a geographic glossary of the sites and images, Monumental Journey sheds new light on the arc of Girault’s career, the vibrant orientalist milieu of 19th-century France that shaped his work, and his inventive contributions to the nascent field of photography. It introduces modern audiences to a brilliant yet enigmatic talent, as well as the stunning images, many published here for the time, that make a major contribution to the histories of both photography and eastern Mediterranean.

Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press

Exhibition Schedule:

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Stephen C. Pinson is curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.


The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

“Both exhibition and catalog offer plenty of supplementary contextual material. There is a selection of Girault’s watercolors, his oil painting of the Alhambra, and one of the huge self-published volumes of his archaeological lithographs: a reminder that daguerreotypes were for the artist only a means to an end, the crude ore for more refined expressions.”—Richard B. Woodward, Wall Street Journal

"Excellent work. . . . The book provides a unique opportunity to view a sustained body of work by one of the world's first working photographers and to learn about the context for his pioneering photographic work."—W. S. Johnson, Choice Connect
ISBN: 9781588396631
Publication Date: February 19, 2019
Publishing Partner: Published by The Metropolitan Museum of Art/Distributed by Yale University Press
252 pages, 10 1/2 x 9 1/2
206 color illus.
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