Exhibition of photographs – Roger-Viollet Gallery

From the North Sea to the Mediterranean, it’s a whiff of iodine that crosses the Galerie Roger-Viollet thanks to a new series of colorful panoramic and stereoscopic photographs.

These images, taken from 1860 to the beginning of the 1900s, depict a very different perception of the sea, whether one is summery in Nice or a shrimp fisherman in Calais. At that time, in the minds of most people, the French coasts seemed more devoted to the economy
of the local workforce than to emerging leisure. Twenty years after the invention of photography, the operators of the Parisian Léon & Lévy studios travel the coastline, capturing seafarers, regattas and the first swimmers in one-piece swimsuits for women and men.

The Léon & Lévy studios were the precursors of stereoscopic images on glass plates (8.4 x 17.2 cm), panoramic views (16 x 42 cm) and very large format (24 x 30 cm), marking the beginning of an industry aimed at the general public. public who chose these photographs from a catalogue. Engineers from the Léon & Lévy studios have invented a process for coloring photographs on a second glass plate placed between the positive image and a frosted film. Stereoscopic relief images then become even more realistic when viewed through a stereoscope.

These forty-eight images come from a collection of several hundred thousand glass plates, 110 tons of which were saved from destruction in the 1970s by Hélène Roger-Viollet. Exhibited for the first time by the Galerie Roger-Viollet, these modern prints on
Hahnemühle Bamboo 290g papers are available in large format, in limited and numbered editions.

The Leon & Levy workshop

Moyse Léon and Isaac, known as Georges Lévy, began as assistants in the Parisian photographic studio Ferrier-Soulier during the Second Empire. They founded their own studio in 1864 and sold prints on albumen paper, mainly stereoscopic views, under the signature Léon et Lévy “LL”. The Léon & Lévy firm took part in the Universal Exhibition of 1867 where it won the Emperor’s Great Gold Medal. In 1874, the Léon et Lévy workshop became J. Lévy et Cie, Isaac Georges Levy being the sole director of the company from that date. With the arrival of Georges Lévy’s two sons, Ernest and Lucien, in 1895, the company grew and became Lévy & fils, the works retaining the “LL” signature. This photographic firm had an intense activity, publishing prints sold individually, albums compiling travel photographs as well as postcards, all between 1864 and 1917, when they ceased their activities. The Léon & Lévy collection was purchased in 1970 by the Roger-Viollet agency. Today, these glass plate negatives are part of Parisian heritage. They are kept by the Historical Library of the City of Paris and distributed exclusively by the Roger-Viollet agency.

Useful information

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Address: 6, rue de Seine 75006 Paris
Telephone: 01 55 42 89 00

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Tracey L. Sweeney