Auguste Salzmann


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(1824–72), Alsatian painter, archaeologist, and photographer, who was the first to use photography systematically as an adjunct to archaeological work, and to provide evidence for his patron de Saulcy's earlier findings in the Holy Land. His paper-negative photographs consist primarily of architectural details and fragments from excavations, which he claimed were ‘conclusive brute facts’ in the continuing debate about the age of architectural remains in and around Jerusalem. After returning to France, he published Jerusalem: études et réproductions photographiques de la Ville Sainte depuis l'époque judaïque jusqu'à nos jours (2 vols., 1856), containing 150 photographs. The tightly cropped architectural detail he recorded was unusual in an age which prized the inclusive, middle-distance architectural view, and led in the 1980s to his classification as precociously modern. It is more accurate to see contemporary aesthetics, schooled in modernist strategies that emphasize surface over depth, as receptive to the formal elements of his work, although few modern viewers are able to read the archaeological argument embedded in his photographs.

From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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