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Les Travaux Publics de la France (1878-1882) 
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In the middle of the nineteenth century a large number of public works were being constructed in France for the benefit of society. The bridges, roads, canals, port improvements, lighthouses and beacons were under the direction of the Ministère des Travaux Publics and photographs were shown at the Universal Exhibition in Vienna (1873). It was decided to create a publication of the photographs and this was organised by James de Rothschild and additional photographs were added. The five volume Les Travaux Publics de la France (1878-1882)[1] stands as one of the great documentary studies but is little known.
The photographs taken show the marvels of the construction and to emphasise the grandeur they are largely devoid of people and are similar to the typological works of Bernd & Hilla Becher[2] which came much later.
This publication included many of the best regional photographers working in France from the middle of the 19th century including:
Prompt (Albi)
Provost (Béziers)
Romanowski (Montpellier)
Sarault (Asnières)
Alphonse Terpereau (Bordeaux)
Adolphe Terris (Marseille)
Édouard Baldus (Paris)
Michel Berthauld (Paris)
De Bray (Nice)
Cabibel (Perpignan)
Cognac (La Rochelle)
Hippolyte-Auguste Collard (Paris)
Louis Alphonse Davanne (Paris)
Eugène Delon (Toulouse)
J. Duclos (Quimper)
Joguet (Lyon)
De Labrador (Bayonne)
Letellier (Le Havre)
Magny (Coutances)
Pacault (Pau)

  1. Λ Les Travaux Publics de la France was published in five parts:
    Volume I: Félix Lukas - Ponts et routes (Paris: J. Rothschild, 1878-1882) [Bridges and roads]
    Volume II: Edourd-Charles-Romain Collignon - Chemins de fer (Paris: J. Rothschild, 1878-1882) [Railways]
    Volume III: H. de Lagrene - Rivières et canaux (Paris: J. Rothschild, 1878-1882) [Rivers and canals]
    Volume IV: Voisin-Bey - Ports de mer (Paris: J. Rothschild, 1878-1882) [Sea ports]
    Volume V: Emile Allard - Phares et balises (Paris: J. Rothschild, 1878-1882) [Lighthouses and beacons]
  2. Λ There is a large literature on Bernd and Hilla Becher including - Bernd & Hiller Becher, 2004, Typologies of Industrial Buildings, (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press); Bernhard & Hilla Becher, 1970, Anonyme Skulpturen, A Typology of Technical Constructions, (New York: Wittenborn and Co.); Susanne Lange, 2006, Bernd and Hilla Becher: Life and Work, (The MIT Press) 
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