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Erika Billeter

(b Eisenach, 1882; d Mexico City, 1954).

German photographer, active in Mexico. As a young man he travelled through Africa, taking photographs; an archive of some of these glass plates survives. He reached Mexico by way of Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, and took his first Mexican photographs in the Yucatán peninsula. He then opened a studio in Mexico City and, together with Augustín Victor Casasola, became one of the most important photographers of the Revolution (1910–17). What he loved most, however, was the beauty of the Mexican landscape. His book Malerisches Mexico was published by Ernst Wachsmuth in Germany in 1923, the same year in which he collaborated with Manuel Alvarez Bravo, later to become Mexico’s leading photographer. Brehme’s photography was not merely reportage. He sought to capture the spirit of the country rather than isolated events as, for example, in his photograph of Pancho Villa’s horsemen, each in direct eye-contact with the photographer. In this he was inspired by José Guadalupe Posada, who was one of the first artists to capture the Mexican temperament in his woodcuts. Occasionally, indeed, Posada worked from photographs by Brehme and by Casasola. More than most foreigners, Brehme was able to feel real empathy with Mexico, and he became an impressive interpreter not only of its customs and traditions, but also of its historical monuments and festivals....

Article

J. P. Ward

revised by Geoffrey Batchen

(François Jean)

(b Lyon, Aug 12, 1797; d London, Dec 27, 1867).

French-born photographer, active in England. He began his working life in banking but soon became director of a firm of glassmakers in Paris. In 1826 he moved to London to open a glass warehouse and by 1830 was in partnership with George Houghton in Holborn, selling glass shades and other products. On hearing of the announcement of the first practicable photographic processes in 1839, Claudet visited Paris, where he later claimed he received instruction in the daguerreotype process from Daguerre himself, and from whom he purchased a licence to operate in England. By March 1840 Claudet and Houghton’s firm was selling daguerreotype views of Paris and Rome, obtained from Lerebours in Paris, as well as copies of that publisher’s volume of engravings after daguerreotypes, Excursions Daguerriennes, représentant les vues et les monuments les plus remarquables du globe. In April 1841 the firm was also offering to sell complete daguerreotype apparatuses, including prepared plates....

Article

Marilyn F. Symmes

[Fr.: ‘glass negative’]

Name most widely used for the process that uses light to print or to transfer on to photo-sensitized paper a drawing rendered on a glass plate or other transparent or translucent surface (e.g. thin paper, plastic sheets or film). The resulting cliché-verre print has the characteristics of both printmaking and photography. Other names include cliché-glace, dessin héliographique, dessin sur verre bichromaté, cliché photographique sur verre, autographie photographique, procédé sur verre, photogenic etching, etching on glass, autograph etching and glass print.

The cliché-verre process involves two basic steps. The artist first makes an image on a matrix (as in printmaking) that is transparent or partially transparent. Then the hand-drawn matrix is used in the manner of a photographic negative when it is superimposed on light-sensitive paper and exposed to light. The light acts as the printing agent, replicating the image on to the sheet below as a positive print, as in photography. Unlike other printmaking or photographic techniques, however, neither ink nor camera apparatus is used to create a cliché-verre. While these basic steps do not change, materials, modes of drawing on the transparent or translucent plate and methods of printing photographically may vary....

Article

Jean A. Follett

(b Boston, MA, 1842; d Boston, MA, 1910).

American architect, stained-glass designer, furniture designer, and photographer. Preston was the son of Jonathan Preston (1801–88), a successful builder in Boston. William completed a year’s study at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge, MA (later incorporated into Harvard University), and then went to Paris where he enrolled briefly in the Atelier Douillard. He returned to Boston in 1861 to work with his father, with whom he remained in partnership until the latter’s death. William then practised independently until his own death.

Preston was a prolific architect, designing over 740 buildings in the course of a career spanning 50 years. His early work was in the French Renaissance style, as seen in his Boston Society of Natural History building (1861–4), a tripartite structure with its floor levels arranged to equate with the proportions of the base, shaft, and capital of a Classical column. It has monumental Corinthian columns and pilasters and a central pediment flanked by a balustraded parapet. He worked in a typically eclectic manner during the 1870s and became an extremely fine designer in the Queen Anne Revival style in the 1880s and early 1890s. The varied massing, stained-glass windows, terracotta, moulded brick, and carved-wood detail of the John D. Sturtevant House (...