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Grand Hotel, Boulevard des Capucines, Paris
Albumen print, from glass negative, detail
19 x 25 cm (image), 30 x 44 cm (mount)
Private Collection of Robert G. Hill, Toronto, Ont.
Acc. No. 808
Collector description (pers. email, Robert Hill to Alan Griffiths, 11 February 2014): It was taken by the remarkably talented Paris photographer Achille Quinet, and it appears to be unique because it was taken in the critical period of the Paris Seige by the Prussians, which began on 19 Sept. 1870, and ended with the surrender of Paris on 28 Jan. 1871. I believe it was taken in October or November 1870, and it has an eerie silence to it, because it shows all the ground floor entrances and openings of the Grand Hotel blocked up with stone and masonry, to prevent looting and break-ins by invading troops. The streets appear to be virtually deserted. I have never seen this photo published in books, and I have checked the collections of The Getty, The CCA, MOMA New York, the Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris, as well as auction records for Quinet, and this specific image never turns up.
I would not describe this image as a "war photo", but rather a "pre-war" photo, because the Prussians started their bombardment of Paris in early January 1871, and much of the destruction occurred after 23 consecutive nights of bombing which ended on 28 January with the surrender of the City.
With red ink rubber stamp on the mount "Achille Quinet".