|A topographical carte-de-visite showing the arena of the Roman amphitheatre in the southern French town of Arles. An ancient town first established by the Greeks, Arles reached the peak of its influence in the 5th and 6th centuries, when it was frequently used as headquarters by Roman Emperors during military campaigns.
Built around 1 B.C.E., the arena seated 20,000 spectators on three tiers. Today, it is used for bullfights, concerts, operas, and theatre performances.
A painting of 1888 by Vincent Van Gogh, Les Arènes, depicts the crowd attending a bullfight in the arena.
Photographed by Adolphe Braun of Dornach, identified recto in the lower margin and by his backplate on the reverse of the mount.
Adolphe Braun was born at Besançon in 1811. He first trained as a textile designer and opened his own studio at Dornach in Alsace [Eastern France]. He only turned to photography in 1853, when he produced a series of some 300 still-life studies of flowers, entitled Fleurs photographiées. Originally intended as designs for wallpaper and as an aid to designers in the fabric industry, these were immediately recognized as an artistic achievement in their own right. One album of the photographs was presented to the Empress Eugénie, and the work met with such success at the 1855 Exposition Universelle that Braun left the field of design for photography.
By the 1860’s, Braun’s output was primarily topographical. He invariably travelled with teams of assistants, mounting ambitious photographic expeditions in France, Germany and Switzerland, the results of which were sold as series. Many of these views were also available as stereoscopic cards and these brought him considerable financial success. From 1866, he began to photograph works of art in Europe’s great museums, often printing these in the more permanent carbon process, the better to render the tonality of the originals. After his death in 1877, the studio continued in the hands of his son, Gaston.
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