Review: Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey, Met Museum, Opening January 30, 2019
|Monumental Journey at the Met
Yesterday, I had a chance to see a preview of a photography exhibit (opening January 30, 2019 until May 12, 2019) at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. It's called: Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey and it was simply stunning.
Every picture was like taking a trip back in time, especially if you have studied ancient Greek or Egyptian history and architecture in school or have traveled to see these sites in the modern day. Seeing them in 1840, the first known pictorial representations, with then high-tech equipment, the newly-invented daguerreotype, is pretty spectacular and dream-like.
Stephen C. Pinson, Curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, outlined four reasons to see this show (if you needed some further encouragement):
1. These are the earliest known surviving pictures of these sites.
2. Daguerreotype was cutting edge tech in the 1840s. Girault de Prangey innovated many ways to use it, including multiple images on single plate.
3. Girault de Prangey also saw intuitively how to see the world photographically and cataloged his pictures; his is the earliest known photographic catalogue system.
4. Daguerreotypes exist as art objects not just pictures; the display at the Met took this into consideration when building this exhibit.
More information from the Met Museum website and press release:
A trailblazer of the newly invented daguerreotype process, Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey (1804–1892) traveled throughout the Eastern Mediterranean from 1842 to 1845, producing more than one thousand daguerreotypes—the largest known extant group from this period and the earliest surviving photographs of Greece, Egypt, Syria, Lebanon, Turkey, and Jerusalem, and among the first depicting Italy.
A trailblazer of the daguerreotype process, Girault used oversize plates and innovative formats to produce what is today the world's oldest photographic archive—all in the service of a brand-new type of archaeological fieldwork. This exhibition, the first in the United States devoted to Girault, and the first to focus on his Mediterranean journey, will feature approximately 120 of his daguerreotypes, supplemented by examples of his graphic work—watercolors, paintings, and his lithographically illustrated publications.
Featuring approximately 120 of his daguerreotypes, supplemented by examples of his graphic work—watercolors, paintings, and his lithographically illustrated publications—the exhibition will be the first in the United States devoted to Girault, and the first to focus on his Mediterranean journey.
I loved this show! Here are some pictures of the daguerreotypes that I took but there are 100 more to see. I highly encourage you to go spend time with these daguerreotypes, and dream-scape back to 1840 with Girault de Prangey.