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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Jean-Eugene Durand

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Active:  France
Active 1876-1915.

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Jean-Eugene Durand (active 1876-1917) of Paris, France was employed as assistant manager in the French government Bureau aux Monuments historiques (Department of Historic Buildings). He was also active as a staff photographer in this division and in 1876 began to take his first photographs of buildings in the French département of Seine-et-Oise. In 1877 the Department of Historic Buildings started to acquire his glass negatives. Working with Seraphin-Mederic Mieusement (1840-1905), another architectural photographer employed by the Department, the two were commissioned to photograph thousands of Romanesque, Gothic and Renaissance landmarks throughout France. During his forty year career with the Department, and even after his retirement, Durand produced over 1,750 large glass plate negatives that were still in its possession after WW1. In 1923-24 they were acquired by the Service des Beaux-Arts, and the entire collection survives today and is held by the Mediatheque de l’Architecture et du Patriomine in Paris, a division of the French Culture Ministry, located at 4 rue de Tureene, Paris.
Using a large 11” x 15” view camera, Durand exposed glass plate negatives on site using a dry collodion process, often staging his images by using local citizens to add an element of scale to the composition. He then carefully controlled the production of his prints back in his Paris office. His large format albumen prints, usually 25 x 36 cm. (10” x 14”) are often flawless, dark and rich in tone, with impeccable detail and no vignetting. He was adept at the “burning” and “dodging” darkroom techniques and he used them with great effect to produce a balanced exposure and an evenness of tone throughout the print.
Surprisingly, despite his prolific output, the name of J.E. Durand is absent from the Grove Dictionary of Art (1994), and even more puzzling is the omission of his career and work in John Hannavy’s recently published Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography (2008).
[Contributed by Robert G. Hill] 
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