Paris, Paul Berthier, 1865. Very large board (93.0 x 45.0 cm), with original mounted albumen silver prints (panorama, in two parts of 25.0 x 36.2 cm and 25.0 x 35.0 cm, for a continuous image with a total width of 71.2 cm). Paul Berthier printed studio label pasted on verso.
Paul Marcellin Berthier (1822-1912) is regarded as one of the foremost French photographers of the 19th century, as well as an accomplished impressionist painter. He is principally known as a landscape and a portrait photographer (of, e.g., the French poet Lamartine), and as a landscape painter. His landscape photos are rare and sought-after, and are, for instance, included in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, The J. Paul Getty Museum, and the Musée d'Orsay in Paris. This photograph is of geological importance too, showing a mountainside with three craters, of which two are apparently active, with clearly smoking fumaroles. The adjacent pine trees are stripped of their branches, possibly by a pyroclastic flow. The locality is not specified, but this is Mount Etna, visited by Berthier during and after its 1861-1865 eruptions. This is not the summit, as there are trees, but a part of the volcano's flank, below the Valle del Bove. The Museum of Modern Art in New York (Suzanne Winsberg Collection) possesses the left part of this panorama only. It forms a basis for Ferdinand André Fouque's Rapport sur les phénomènes chimiques de l'éruption de l'Etna en 1865, published in Paris, by the Imprimerie Impériale (1866). Fouqué (1828–1904) was a French mineralogist. Photos with a few unobtrusive light brown traces from one point going in different directions. But mostly clean and well matching with strong contrast and a sharp impression. The board slightly damp stained in the lower left outer margin; a bit soiled, and one corner with a small bump. Otherwise very good. Not in any relevant bibliography.