Further to my recent post of photographs of Chateaux of the Loire Valley below are further images by the Neurdein Brothers of Paris. The images can be found on the website of the Bibliothèque nationale de France – where you have the option of having the pages appear in French, English or Spanish.
ETIENNE NEURDEIN (1832 – 1918) and LOUIS-ANTONIN NEURDEIN (1846 – after 1915) opened a studio at 52 Avenue de Breteuil, Paris in 1863. Etienne ran the portrait studio and during the 1860s they also began to publish cartes de visite (visiting cards with the photograph of the individual on them). On his excursions through France in the second half of the 1860s Louis-Antonin began to photograph views of buildings and landscapes and these they produced for the tourist market. Consequently they became one of the most successful producers of views in France. Later they started touring the rest of Europe and North Africa and added to their extensive collection. Between 1898 to the start of the First World War (1914) they were charged by the French Department of Public Instruction and Fine Arts to reproduce architectural views and to maintenan the state-owned photograph collection of historical monuments.
As well as taking extremely fine photographs they also worked hard on developing their darkroom techniques and, in addition to the traditional albumen prints they later published prints in bromide and carbon as these processes were developed and later added photomechanical printing processes.
With the popularity of postcards around 1890 they easily maximised the potential of used their large stock of images to meet this demand. They went on to publish many continuous tone, monochromatic postcards of urban French views, nudes, panoramas, military themes, and scenes from French colonies and from Quebec.
Later their company merged with another well respected Parisian firm in the same field, “LL” (Louis Levy) and became “Levy et Neurdein reunis.”
Neurdein Brothers won many awards, including a silver medal at the 1888 ‘Exposition de l’Union Centrale des Arts Decoratifs’, and a gold medal in 1899 at the ‘Exposition Universelle in Paris’.
The Photo Archive of the French Ministry of Culture houses many of the thousands of glass plates made by the two brothers. Their negatives are now owned by the Roger-Viollet Photographic Agency whose website has some stunning black & white images. Happy exploring.