|A topographical carte-de-visite showing the ruins of the Roman theatre at Arles, in the South of France. The location is identified by a small, neat, printed label pasted to the back of the mount, which reads Arles / Ruines du theatre romain.
Built in the time of Augustus, the theatre had seating for 8,000 arranged on 33 tiers of steps. In the early Middle Ages, the theater was used as a quarry; the town hall was erected with the material it provided. Of the rear wall of the stage only the stumps of a few pillars remain, and two more or less complete columns. Today the theatre, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is once again used as a theatre during the summer, and the interior is somewhat spoiled by the necessary technical apparatus.
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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