History of Nudes in Steeo Daguerreotypes by Dennis Pellerin

$68.00

Absolutely Sumptuous – Stunning, bold illustrations at the highest levels plus brilliant descriptions and history by a leading photo historian. Denis Pellerin is a photo-historian with a passion for stereo photography. He has beeen researching and learning about the history of stereo photography for over 30 years and has written several articles and books on the subject, both in French and English. During his thirtieth year as a secondary school teacher, Denis had the god fortune to meet and work with Dr. Brian May before being hired by the latter as the curator of his extensive photographic collection. Forward by Werner Bosshard Lite Owl 3D viewer included Microfibre cleaning cloth for the Full high gloss color illustrations, 9 x 12, 247 pages Notes, Index Price $68 + Tax + Shipping $7.75

This gorgeous book is luxuriously illustrated, beautifully produced, and thoroughly researched. The focus of the research and of the illustrations is Werner Bosshard’s extensive collection of nude stereo daguerreotypes. It is one of the largest collections of such images extant in the 21st century.


The author, Denis Pellerin, has studied 19th-century photography for many years and has published several articles and books about stereoscopic images. This new book works on more than one level. It serves as a social history of early French nude photography, how it was perceived in society, and how this perception was different from that of nudes in more traditional arts. Pellerin has also written an in-depth research discussion on the lives of the people who participated in this type of photography. Pellerin was curious about the individual women who posed in the daguerreotypes, and the photographers who took and sold the photos. He wondered why the models posed for these images. By such an action they risked arrest, incarceration, and a dim future. He discovered many arrest and police records of both the models and the photographers, written in a police register that is now kept in the archives of the Préfecture of Police in Paris. The untitled register and is referred to by its call number BB3. This register served as a basis for Pellerin to learn the names of several models. He found that copies of photographs of some of the models are pasted into the BB3. The Paris police used it as an identification tool. Pellerin was able to identify models in some of the stereo daguerreotypes by matching them to photos in the police register. He went on to painstakingly further research the lives of the models as thoroughly as he could, by finding other documentation. He wrote biographies of as many models and photographers as he could identify. These biographies are included as a major portion of the text of the book. Most of the models were in their late teens and early 20s at the time they started modeling. A few of them continued for some years, but many of them disappeared from the records. There were also some models who he was not able to identify. Reproductions of the stereo daguerreotypes from the Bosshard collection illustrate the biographies.


Pellerin also analyzes the images themselves – the poses, artistic content, iconography, etc. For good reason, only a few of the photographers identified themselves on the image plates or cases. Sometimes he could identify a photographer through his use of the same props, furniture, or backdrops in multiple images. At least one model had a pose she preferred in photos, and she was identified in some images that were taken as she got older. Pellerin often comments on the facial expressions of some of the models. Several of them looked bored, and others seemed more interested in what they were doing, even during long posing sessions.


Most of the images are more erotically artistic than pornographic. The book includes a chapter called “The Big Secrets” that includes five images that are on the more graphic side. While men appear in a few of the images in other sections of the book, they are generally bystanders. In “The Big Secrets” chapter men take a more active role in four of the five images. Sometimes the men are not identifiable, so would not have been able to be found and arrested.


The business of selling these sorts of images was lucrative, and was the probable reason that photographers risked arrest for taking them. The BB3 register includes the names of 102 photographers who were arrested between November 1855 and June 1868, the dates covered by the register. Pellerin includes biographical profiles of eight of them. He was able to find more information on them than on most of the models.
The stated purpose of the book is “to reveal some of these stories through the amazing images of the Bosshard collection and to lift the veil on that little known and rather dark side of the booming photographic industry of the time, on this underworld of commercial stereo photography” (19-20). Pellerin’s excellent research and his descriptions have animated the fascinating text, which brings the era to life and gives depth and background to the images.


The book is lavishly illustrated with high resolution, glossy color reproductions of many daguerreotypes and some paper photographs from the Bosshard collection. A “LITE OWL” 3D viewer from the London Stereoscopic Company (designed by noted collector and scholar Brian May) is included with the book. It allows the reader to see the stereo effects, and it works quite well. A microfiber cleaning cloth designed to clean both the 3D viewer and the high-gloss images also comes with the book.


History of Nudes in Stereo Daguerreotypes is the first book of its kind to delve deeply into the lives and the social environment of those who were involved in this business. This beautiful and well-researched book will make an excellent addition to the library of anybody interested in the subjects illustrated and discussed.


Review by Jerilyn Marshall, MA, MLS (Research Services Librarian, Retired)


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This product was added to our catalog on Thursday 05 November, 2020.

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