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Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey
Arc de Septime Severe. Details, Rome
24.2 x 18.8 cm
James Hyman Gallery
Titled and numbered in ink on a label (Verso)
This extraordinary architectural view also echoes Piranesi's famous Carceri etchings, which were also inspired by the architecture of Rome.
Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey was a wealthy, pioneering daguerreotypist. His works are amongst the most highly prized of all daguerreotypes. His extraordinary images were discovered in a storeroom of his estate in the 1920s and only made known some eighty years later. Girault de Prangey studied painting at the École des Beaux-Arts in Paris and learned daguerreotypy in 1841, the same year inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre publicly demonstrated the process. Girault de Prangey may have learned photography from Daguerre himself, or from Hippolyte Bayard, with whom he shared a mutual artist friend.
Aside from his creative interests, Girault de Prangey was an avid student of Ancient Near East architecture and in 1842 embarked on a three-year tour of Italy, Greece, Egypt, Turkey, Syria, and Palestine. He carried hundreds of pounds of photography equipment and made an incredible body of work.
In May 2003 Sheik Saud Al-Thani of Qatar purchased a daguerreotype by Girault de Prangey for a world-record price of just under $1,000,000. This was the highest recorded price for a daguerreotype. The auction of de Prangey's daguerreotypes was also, at that point, the highest ever total for a photography sale.