Around 19th century photography

« French paper negatives:

production, characterization, preservation »


2017.11.27 The maximum number of possible attendees has already been reached, we are no longer accepting registration, thank you for your understanding.

2017.11.09 The schedule has been slighly modified. Please check the program page.

2017.09.29 The conference program has been updated! The abstracts of the talks are available on the preliminary program page.


Henri Le Secq - Pichet, verre et pipe


In 1835, William Henry Fox Talbot invented the negative using a simple sheet of paper. This modest support allowed new insights thanks to its inherent aesthetical qualities and also because it allows creating multiples for the first time. It was quickly implemented in France by many makers and photographs, and was widely used in several fields such as art, architecture and archaeology. This new process has somehow given rise to a particular photographic art, and helped photography to come off the status of a mechanical process for commercial or scientific usage, as was relegated the daguerreotype at that time.

French institutions and museums hold impressive collections of negatives, and this conference is a way to look at these objects from several perspectives. Indeed, the two days are organized in three multidisciplinary and thematic sessions. The historical significance of these negatives will be complemented by their chemical and physical characterization (Session 1). Then, conservation challenges will be discussed, in regards to exhibition matters (Session 2). Finally, a last session will be dedicated to contemporary and artistic practices of paper negative and related processes (Session 3). A panel discussion will close the conference.  

This conference is a follow up on a research programme on French paper negatives (1841-1860) conducted at the Centre de Recherche sur la Conservation, in partnership with the Centre de Recherche et de Restauration des Musées de France and the Bibliothèque Nationale de France, funded by the Fondation des Sciences du Patrimoine in 2016 and 2017.

The conference will be held on December 7 and 8, 2017 in the Jean Rouch auditorium at the Musée de l’Homme, in Paris, that re-opened in 2015. The registration is free but the seats limited (152 seats). Simultaneous translation into English will be available. This conference is organized with the support of the International Research Network on Photography « Photographs: Perception and Changes », funded by the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS).


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