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Approach to the Mountain Pass at Donzère, from the album “The Northern Railway from Paris to Lyon and the Mediterranean”

Édouard-Denis Baldus, French (born Prussia), 1813–1889
Albumen print
Donzère, Rhône-Alpes, France, Europe
Current Location
Not on view
image: 12 11/16 × 17 3/16 in. (32.3 × 43.7 cm)
mount: 17 15/16 × 23 7/8 in. (45.6 × 60.6 cm)
Credit Line
Museum Purchase
Public Domain
Object Number
The spread of the railways across Europe and America was one of the enduring preoccupations of nineteenth-century photography. Edouard-Denis Baldus produced this striking photograph of a line near the Rhone River for an album documenting a new service from Lyon to the Mediterannean Sea sometime around 1859. Made up of finely detailed contact prints, it has been described as the most beautiful photographic album of the nineteenth century, and this image, which shows the recently constructed tracks and an accompanying telegraph line, is one of the finest prints from the album. As with most early photographs, the chemistry used to make this image was overly sensitive to ultraviolet light. This caused the sky to appear white and featureless in the picture. Baldus knew how to use this limitation to his advantage. The sky becomes a strong graphic element in the picture: a powerful, abstract form echoing the shape of the land.
- 1977
Gérard Lévy, Paris, France

1977 -
Saint Louis Art Museum, purchased from Gérard Lévy [1]

[1] Invoice dated June 12, 1977 [SLAM document files]. Minutes of the Acquisitions Committee of the Board of Trustees, Saint Louis Art Museum, September 28, 1977.
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