PB: Wednesday, 23 December 2009 NEWSLETTER


Maison Alphonse Giroux Album of ca. 1860 in the ACG Art Collection

In my capacity as curator, I donated on 23 December 2009 the Maison Alphonse Giroux Album to the ACG Art Collection. This album is a scarce carte de viste record with 93 mounted albumen prints of very important people as taken by leading photographers. The majority of photographs are stamped with the seal of François-Simon-Alphonse Giroux (ca.1775-1848), maker of camera equipment for Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguer.

This splendid album of vintage photographs highlights 'a revolution in pictures' as the Victorian age embraced the elegance of the 'carte de visite', a small print, most commonly a portrait, mounted on a card measuring approximately 10 by 6 centimeters, also known as the card or album photograph. This particular volume is an especially rich collection of what was acclaimed in its time as "the social currency, the sentimental 'green-backs' of civilization" (Robert Taft, Photography and the American Scene: A Social History 1938 Macmillan Co., New York, p.143). Displayed within the album are prints created approximately in 1860 of portraits of the British, French, Italian, and Chinese royalty, including King Edward VII when Prince of Wales (Charlet & Jacotin); Chinese Emperor Daoguang and Empress Dowager Cixi (G. Prévot). Also featured are prints of war heroes, including the Duke of Wellington (Franck); Admiral Nelson (photographer unstated), and Garibaldi (Le Gray), along with major political figures, including John Russell (Mayall) and significant literary figures, including Alexandre Dumas fils (Petit). Especially significant herein is the work of André Disdéri, who first patented and popularized the carte de visite format (Princesse Julie Bonaparte; Princess Elisa Napoléone Bacciochi; Prince Charles Bonaparte; Princess Lucien Murat; Princess Joachim Murat; Duke of Hamilton; Princesse Mathilde; Duke & Duchess of Alba; Mme Émile de Girardin; Princess Maria Clotilde; Prince Louis-Napoléon Murat). Of significance are also the prints of acclaimed Parisian Nadar (Lamartine; Émille de Girardin; and a French gentleman) and Gustave Le Gray's acclaimed portrait of Giuseppe Garibaldi. It is also worth citing Émile Desmaisons, who created prints after painted portraits of historic personalities (Duc de Sully; Cardinal Mazarin; Jean-Baptiste Colbert; Molière; Mme de Sévigné; Bossuet; Boileau; Louis XIV; Louis XV; Jean-Sylvain Bailly; Vicomte de Beauharnais; Camille Desmoulins; Mme de Staël; Comte de La Rochejacquelein; and François Arago). Finally, it is worth noting that the album ends with Pierre-Louis Pierson's portrait of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, who is credited as the inventor of the daguerreotype process of photography. The photographers represented are: Bayard & Bertall (1); Étienne Carjat (1); Charlet & Jacotin (9); Émile Desmaisons (15); Disdéri (15); Duroni & Murer (1); Franck (9); Gustave Le Gray (1); Serge Levitsky (1); Mayall (2); Mayer & Pierson (6); E. Meslin (2); Nadar (3); Neurdein Frères (2); Pierre Petit (2); Pierre-Louis Pierson (3); G. Prévot (2); and as yet unidentified photographers (18). The Maison Alphonse Giroux album - holding 93 cartes de visite displayed on 25 leaves of heavy stock, each displaying two mounted albumen prints on each side, housed in framed pockets - originates in the photography collection of art curator Megakles Rogakos. All the plates are quite fresh and bright, with only light scattered foxing, faint marginal spotting and occasional tiny closed tears at edges of paper frames. An extremely good collection with a notable association.

The Maison Alphonse Giroux Album may be considered significant to the life of the College, as a treasure trove of mid 19th century V.I.P. photography. All of this material was added to the ACG Art Collection, which had already included a substantial number of the aforementioned photographers, and is fully published at, being available as much for research of interested parties as to be exhibited or loaned.

Megakles Rogakos

INFORMATION: Megakles Rogakos, The American College of Greece - ACG Art
6 Gravias Street, Agia Paraskevi, Athens, GR 15342, Greece, T: +30-210-6009800/1456, E: