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photograph - ECOLES MUNICIPALES Etudes de Dessins d’apres l’Antique et les Grands Maîtres
  • ECOLES MUNICIPALES Etudes de Dessins d’apres l’Antique et les Grands Maîtres
    Bilordeaux, Adolphe, born 1802
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ECOLES MUNICIPALES Etudes de Dessins d’apres l’Antique et les Grands Maîtres

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    1864 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Bilordeaux, Adolphe, born 1802 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

The National Art Library at the South Kensinngton Museum purchased these twelve photographs for the collection from the dealer Victor De La Rue in October 1864. These photographs were taken by Adolphe Bilordeaux, and produced as a set titled ECOLES MUNICIPALES Etudes de Dessins d’apres l’Antique et les Grands Maîtres. Each photograph depicts a plaster cast of a head or hand of an Antique sculpture.The South Kensington Museum collected many photographs, drawings, books, and other secondary reference material relating to the style of the Antique in order to fulfil its educational aims, as study of the Classical ideals were still viewed as a central plank of art education during this period.
From the title of the set and the clear numbering of each print, we can see that these photographs were produced in order to be material for students to copy as exercises in drawing. The fact that the sculptures the casts are from are not named, and the effort which Bilordeaux took over the lighting and arrangement of each print also supports this reading. This was familiar territory for Bilordeaux, as he began his career as a lithographer, and successfully published several books of lithographs of ornament designed to be lessons in drawing and design. In Études d'Ornements aux deux Crayons published 1844-50 and Cours d'ornemens / composés et lithographiés par Adolphe Bilordeaux, the volumes are arranged as a course of copying exercises of increasing complexity for the student to progress through and master. The National Art Library also purchased these volumes and sent them to art schools around the country via the Circulation Department.

Unusually, Bilordeaux signed each of these photographs on the image in red ink. The signature is stylish and artistically placed in different areas on each image. Painted signatures are uncommon in photographic prints of the 19th century, photographers instead tended to leave their signatures scratched into or painted onto the negative, printed on the mount, or blind stamped.
Bilordeaux studied photography under Gustave le Gray, who taught him the techniques in 1853. Le Gray had many other students around this time, including other noted photographers such as Charles Negre, Henri Le Secq, and Maxime Du Camp. Bilordeaux and le Gray both were among the founding members of the Societe Francaise de Photographie in 1854. Le Gray also hand-painted his signature on some of his prints, so this may be a stylistic theme the two photographers developed together.

Physical description

Albumen print on paper depicting a plaster cast

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)


1864 (photographed)


Bilordeaux, Adolphe, born 1802 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print

Marks and inscriptions

The photographer has hand-painted his signature in red paint or ink on each print in this series.


Length: 32.7 cm sheet, Width: 26 cm sheet

Descriptive line

Albumen print of a plaster cast of a sculpture photographed by Adolphe Bilordeaux




Albumen print; Photography


Photographs; Photographs of plaster casts; Copies and Facsimilies


Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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