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Louis Émile Durandelle
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Louis Emile Durandelle was one of the leading photographers of architecture in 19th -century Paris, as a member of the firm Delmaet & Durandelle. He opened a studio with Hycaninthe Cesar Delmaet (1828-1862) around 1854. After Delmaet’s death, Durandelle continued to operate the studio with Delmaet’s widow, Clémence Jacob Delmaet (?-1890), whom he later married. While the studio made portraits, including cartes de visite, Durandelle’s fame rests on his photography of buildings, particularly the series of photographs of the construction of Charles Garnier’s (1825-1898) Paris Opéra from 1862 through 1875. Durandelle made 200 albumen prints from 38cm x 28 cm glass negatives that captured the detailed decoration of the Opéra as well as the over-all progress of the construction. 115 of his photographs, widely praised for both their clarity and composition, were published in Le Nouvel Opéra de Paris, a set of two volumes of text, two volumes of lithographs and engravings, and four volumes of photographs. His photographs were exhibited at the 1878 Exposition Universelle in Paris. Durandelle photographed a number of construction projects in Paris and elsewhere in France until 1890, including the reconstruction of the Hôtel-Dieu (1868) and the abbey of Mont-Saint Michel (1874-8), and the construction of the Bibliothèque Nationale (1870), Montmartre’s Sacre Coeur (1877-90), the theater at Monte Carlo (1880) and the Eiffel Tower (1887-9). His photographs of the construction of the Eiffel Tower and Sacre Coeur were published in two-volume albums in 1889 and 1890, respectively. Like other photographers at the time, Durandelle photographed the destruction wrought by the Franco-Prussian war of 1870-71 and the 1871 Paris Commmune. He won medals at the Expositions Universelle in 1882 and 1889. In 1890, after the death of his wife Clémence, he sold the business to his assistant, Paul-Joseph-Albert Chevojon (1865-1925) and retired to Bois-Colombes, where he married Julie-Eugenie Saint-Léger, and later died in 1917. (TNB 2/2010) Selected bibliography: Frizot, Michael, ed. The New History of Photography. Cologne: Konemann, 1998, pp. 204-5, 210-213, 217-223. Hannavy, John, ed., Encyclopedia of 19th Century Photography, New York: Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2008, v. 1, pp. 417-420. Keller, Ulrich. “Durandelle, the Paris Opera and the Aesthetics of Creativity,” Gazette des Beaux-Arts, v. 111 (February 1988), 109-118.