Faith in the field: the art of discovery in Auguste Salzmann's photographic albums, 1854-1875
Lebowitz, Anjuli Joy
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This dissertation is the first study of the complete oeuvre of the nineteenth-century archaeologist, photographer, and academic painter Auguste Salzmann, who created some of the earliest European archaeological photographs in the field. His 1854 photographs of Jerusalem have long been praised for their aesthetic beauty, but they have yet to be fully integrated into his full oeuvre of five photographic albums created between 1854 and 1875—a nearly two-decades-long engagement with the photographic medium and an extensive archaeological praxis rooted in the Bible and developed in Greece and the Middle East. Created by an academically trained painter, exchanged to sell artifacts across international borders, and reproduced to contest archaeological theories, Salzmann’s photographs were active participants in a dense cultural web of religious history, scientific thought, aesthetics, economics, and nationalism. In response to these social forces Salzmann’s photographs adopted various forms—bound and unbound, singular and serial, devotional and documentary, scientific and artistic. By demonstrating how Salzmann’s multivalent work had multiple simultaneous social lives in their original historical contexts, this project creates an interdisciplinary model for the study of photographs and photographic albums. Each chapter focuses on one album to illuminate the trajectory of Salzmann’s pictorial methods. The first chapter traces the genesis of Salzmann’s most famous commercial album, the grande édition of Jérusalem: Étude et reproduction photographique de la ville sainte, to discover the many forms his photographs adopted between his 1854 journey to Jerusalem and the album’s 1856 publication. Through the petite édition of Jérusalem the second chapter reveals how Salzmann channeled French religious history to promote contemporary French nationalist interests in the Holy Land. The third chapter turns to Voyage en Terre Sainte (1863) to demonstrate how Salzmann’s pictorial methods adapted to competing archaeological theories and modes of scientific illustration. The fourth chapter centers upon his posthumous Nécropole de Camiros (1875) of Rhodian antiquities to establish how the rhetoric of archaeological discovery granted photographs a multivalent status as scientific specimens, economic goods, and art objects. Challenging previous scholarship that approaches photographic albums as passive repositories of information, the project formulates them as dynamic, mobile actors that produce new knowledge.
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