Henry Brothers: Masters of their Trade (Part Two)

Henry Brothers: Masters of their Trade (Part Two)

When I published the first part of this article just over a year ago [1], I was not really expecting there would be a sequel to it. I was obviously hoping I would find information that would ascertain who the photographer of the seven stereoscopic collodion negatives in my possession was but I knew the chances of getting new data were very low.

It therefore came as a total surprise when I was contacted a couple of months ago by a collector from the Netherlands who had just read my article about the Henry brothers on Stereoscopy.blog  and whose message, when I read it, made me jump to the ceiling.

I have been in touch with Jan Lagendijk for several years and though we have never actually met in person we have corresponded regularly and traded cards and information. Jan is the person who found one of the two Diableries, “Correspondance de Satan”, that were missing from the book I co-wrote with Dr. Brian May and Paula Fleming [2], and he very kindly accepted to let the Brian May Archive of Stereoscopy have it in exchange for some stereo cards of the Netherlands. We are very grateful to him for that noble gesture.

On that day in late March 2022, Jan sent me a message telling me that for the past ten years he had had in his collection a set of sixty-six stereo cards he had never been able to find much information about but fifty-four of which definitely belonged to the same series as the Henry frères collodion negatives I had. The twelve other cards, on smaller, more traditional mounts, were stereos of the Amiens area and may or may not have been taken by the same person. Jan sent me photos of the sixty-six images and there, among the fifty-four larger cards were twelve prints made from the seven negatives I owned (there were a couple of duplicates for two cards), showing the Henry brothers, their families and employers in front of their Dury workshop.

I was wondering in the first part of this article whether the images I have had ever been printed and I could now see they not only had been but that several copies had been made of at least two of them. I can hardly describe what I felt when I saw the photos Jan sent of the lot of cards he had. They were not giving any answers, only raising more questions but I knew I had to study them in the flesh if I wanted to find out more about them. Jan and I came to an agreement and, as the true gent he is, he very kindly let me buy the lot, which I scanned at very high res the minute the postman delivered the parcel that contained the images.

Illustration01-The 54 stereo cards

Illustration 01 – The fifty-four photos from the Dury series in their archival sleeves. See how curved they are on account of the thin mounts.

In addition to the twelve cards made from the seven negatives in my possession was the print of the negative the original seller of the collodion plates had chosen to keep, as well as several other images showing the village of Dury and one farm in particular with the owners’ or renters’ family and their servants.

Illustration02-Henry frères-Print of the negative kept by the seller

Illustration 02 – Print from the negative that was kept by the original seller. For some reason it is far less sharper than the original negative, which I have a scan of.

Now, it is important to remember that the village of Dury, a couple of kilometres south-west of Amiens, suffered from three consecutive wars, first in the franco-prussian conflict of 1870, then during the First World War and finally in 1940. Nothing much is left of the village as it was in the 1860s as a lot of the houses, and the church, were totally destroyed in the battle that took place on June 5th 1940. An aerial photograph taken on 14 August 1944 by an American reconnaissance plane during the Allies’ search for the launch bases of Hitler’s V1s and V2s [3] clearly shows that only a couple of houses still had their roofs on. Similar destructions having taken place in the previous conflicts, the village of today looks very different from what it must have been in the second half of the nineteenth century and there are few original buildings left from that period. The photos I acquired from Jan are therefore of interest not only to the photo historian I am but also to the people of Dury as they probably constitute the earliest photos ever taken of the village and, to make things even better, they are in stereo.

The images featuring the Henry brothers do not tell more than the negatives did but do illustrate what I was mentioning in my first article about the heavy cropping of the image when it comes to be printed. Below are one of the negatives and the resulting print that was made from it. Since the original photograph was made with a binocular camera, the left and right halves of the stereoscopic pair had to be swapped (left to right and right to left) for the positive image to be visible in three dimensions in a stereoscope. A third image shows the negative with only one cropped half of the print superimposed on it to make things even clearer.

Illustration03-Henry frères-NEGATIVE

Illustration 03 – Original negative showing the Henry brothers outside their workshop.

Illustration04-Henry frères-POSITIVE

Illustration 04 – The positive stereo card that was made after the negative above.

Illustration05-Henry frères-NEGATIVE and POSITIVE

Illustration 05 – One half of the positive print superimposed on the negative clearly shows how much cropping there was.

I have written in my first article that the photo I thought had been retained to be printed was the one the negative of which bore a scratched X in one of its corners. However, when I received the positive prints from Jan, I could see at once that among them were four copies from the same negative. Here is one of them.

Illustration06-Henry frères-One of four copies from the same negative

Illustration 06 – There were four prints from the same negative in the set of fifty-four stereographs I bought from Jan Lagendijk. The image shows Eloi and Adolphe Henry, their children, their employees and quite a few people from the village. There are even more in the original negative.

Though I did not learn more about the Henry brothers from the positives, except for getting confirmation of the fact that seven stereoscopic pictures had been made of them outside their workshop, I received very much appreciated help from a handful of enthusiastic inhabitants of Dury after I contacted the mairie of the village to tell them about the negatives and asked if anyone had any information. My email was answered by Annie Farge, the deputy mayor, and she put me in touch with Alain Boucher, a retired maths teacher and keen archeologist. They were both my “eyes and ears” in the village and provided me with very useful information. There was even a meeting with some of the persons who know best about the history of Dury and one of them, Mrs. Nicole Devismes, recognised the Henry smithy as the place where she and her late husband had their garage back in the early 1960s. She even brought a photo, dated April 25th 1961, that proved beyond doubt that the building had survived. Although some modifications were made to it over the years, there was no mistaking the shape of the roof nor the door of the garage which occupied the same place as the door of the Henry’s workshop. That was a wonderful find and the minute the meeting was over Alain Boucher phoned me to announce the good news.

Illustration07-The Devismes Garage

Illustration 07 – Photo belonging to Mrs Nicole Devismes showing the Henry smithy as it was in 1961.

Illustration08-The Henry Brothers in front of their workshop

Illustration 08 – The same building as it appeared in 1867-8.

Alain Boucher’s phone call made me decide to pay a short visit to Dury and see for myself the place where all the images were taken. That’s how on May 17th and 18th, I found myself walking round the village with Alain as my guide and met all the lovely people whose names you will find in the acknowledgments.

Illustration09-The Henry Smithy in 2022

Illustration 09 – This is the building that occupies the site of the Henry’s smithy as I saw it when I visited the village in May 2022. What used to be the café called “Au bon accueil” is still standing next to it, nearly unchanged.

There was another surprise in store for me concerning the Henry brothers. Mrs. Devismes told us that when she and her husband ran the garage the anvil used by Adolphe and Eloi Henri then by their successors was still there, that it proved very useful then and that they took it with them when they moved to a larger place further down the main street of the village. Since anvils are not things that are easily tossed away, Alain took me to what is still a garage, on the off chance that it might still be around. And sure enough, although it has not been used in years, except as a convenient spot to put things on, the anvil was still there ! Here is a photograph of it, below an enlargement of one of the images from 1867.

Illustration10-The Henry brothers' anvil

Illustration 10 – The Henry brothers’ anvil back in 1867s.

Illustration11-The anvil back in 1867

Illustration 11 – The Henry brothers’ anvil as it is today in one of the village garages.

We could not find the graves of the Henry brothers in the village cemetery so my guess is that it is all we will discover out about them, unless some descendant has documents and will come forward after reading those lines. However, there were lots of other places to research and locate on the remaining stereo cards I bought from Jan Lagenjdik. The quest was far from over !

Let’s start with two stereos of the village church, a sixteenth century building completely destroyed in 1940 which few living souls can remember seeing. A more “modern” building, which was not exactly to the taste of the local population at the time,’ was erected in the 1950s and still stands but it does not look at all like the former one, about which not much has apparently been written. As can be seen in the image below, there was a tree-lined pond, next to the main entrance. It has long gone. Postcards from the 1910s and 1930s show that a clock was added on the spire some time in the late nineteenth century or the early twentieth.

Illustration12-The old church

Illustration 12 – One of the two stereo cards showing the old church of Dury.

Illustration13-Eglise de Dury-1904 and 1932

Illustration 13 – Two postcards, one written in April 1904 (left) and another one sent in August 1937 (right) showing that the church had not changed much over the years apart from the addition of a clock on its spire.

Four stereo cards in the lot show the château of Dury; three were taken from the front, in the centre of the village, one from the back on the road to Amiens. Unlike the church the château has survived the wars but had to be rebuilt several times. First erected towards the end of the seventeenth century – around 1685 – by Adrien Picquet de Dourier third of the name, it remained in the family for nearly two centuries.  On December 15th 1873, one of its last descendants, Rose Eléonore Rosalie Picquet de Dourier, died at the château. Her surviving husband, Charles-Louis Choiseul-Beaupré, decided not to keep the property. It was first auctioned on July 31st 1876 but, having had no bidder, was auctioned again on September 18th, when it was bought by Fernand Albert Garçon (1847-1913). In 1911, Fernand Garçon, who was mayor of Dury from 1878 to 1896, sold the château to the Amiens banker Abel Duvette (1871-1962) [4]. During the first World War General Ferdinand Foch (1851-1929) and his aide-de-camp Maxime Weygand (1867-1965) lived there from 1915 to 1916 and came back again briefly in 1918. The building survived the conflict but was destroyed by a chimney fire in the night of March 4th 1919. At the time of the conflagration it was used by the members of a British military commission. Abel Duvette restored the château to its former glory and in 1930 a plaque commemorating the stay there of Marshal Foch was unveiled by his widow and General Weygand. In May 1940, ten years after this unveiling, the château was damaged before being burnt to the ground in June of the same year. When the second World War was over, Abel Duvette had it rebuilt a second time (1952 to 1958). One of his daughters and her descendants remained the owners until 2014 when it was acquired by Mr. Ladislas de Simencourt, the current resident, who, by some strange coincidence, is related to the Duvette family, his great grandmother on his father’s side being none other than Abel Duvette’s sister.

The images below show the château as it was before the franco-prussian war of 1870, as it appeared before the fire of 1919 and as it was rebuilt after it. You will notice that, apart from the roof, the château looks almost identical as the one photographed around 1867.

Illustration14-Le château

Illustration 14 – One of the stereo cards (there are three) showing the château as it appeared from the centre of the village.

Illustration15-Le château-back

Illustration 15 – Stereo card showing the back of the château from the Amiens Road.

Illustration16-CPA-Centre du village

Illustration 16 – Postcard from the early 1900s showing the village of Dury and the château in the background.

Illustration17-CPA-Le Château-Côté Sud

Illustration 17 – Postcard from 1907 showing the south façade of the château (the one that is visible from the centre of the village) before the first World War.

Illustration18-CPA-Château-Côté Nord

Illustration 18 – Postcard sent in 1907 showing the north façade of the château before the First World War and the fire that destroyed it in 1919.

Illustration19-CPA-Le Château after 1919

Illustration 19 – Postcard sent in 1932 showing the north façade of the château after the fire of 1919 but before it was destroyed again in 1940.

Illustration20-Modern stereo showing the gate of the Château

Illustration 20 – Modern stereo showing the gate of the château as it appears today.

Also present in this lot of stereo cards are a couple of photos of two villas, or chalets as they are usually described on later postcards, which were built some time during the Second Empire as secondary homes for wealthy Amiens businessmen who came to Dury to breathe some countryside air. The first one is found frequently on early twentieth century postcards and was still standing in 1915 when the postcard shown below was sent. I found a photograph of the same postcard on a website with the handwritten mention “rasé par une bombe d’avion” (destroyed by a plane bomb), from which we can deduce it was the victim of an air raid when Amiens was bombed during the first world war. This building is known locally as the Chalet Fournier, after his last owner. The most interesting fact about this villa is that it belonged to none other than amateur photographer turned banker Acilde Philippe Duvette (1834-1910). More about this later. On the site it occupied a newer chalet was built, known as the Chalet Dubay.

Illustration21-Chalet

Illustration 21 – Stereo card showing one of the chalets that were built as secondary homes for wealthy families from nearby Amiens. This one was known locally as Chalet Fournier and belonged at some point to Alcide Philippe Duvette.

Illustration22-CPA-Chalet en 1915

Illustration 22 – Postcard sent on May 26th 1915 showing the same chalet. The text on the back of the card tells of how the soldier who wrote it and his comrades would rest in the shade of the trees there and tell each other stories to the thundering sound of the canons that were firing close by.

The second villa or chalet I thought I had not come across in any of the Dury postcards I bought or saw on the internet but during my visit to Dury in late May my wonderful guide, Alain Boucher, showed me that it had been photographed from a different angle than the one generally used for postcards – which usually display the main façade and the front door – and that it was the place in which general Ferdinand Foch had his study during the battle of the Somme. The chalet is known locally as the Villa Foch but on the postcards of the village it generally bears the name of Chalet Honlet-Bordier. Notary Jean Pierre Paul Bordier (1841-1916) lived there with his wife Eugénie Joséphine Lambertine, née Honlet (1849-1929). The villa belonged to them when it was requisitioned by the army during the first world war [5]. It survived two wars and although it has been modified over the years, it still stands and is easily recognisable. A plaque on the left of the main gate reminds the visitor that this is where General Foch had his headquarters from October 30th 1915 to September 3rd 1916.

Illustration23-Chalet

Illustration 23 – Stereo card of the villa known as Villa Foch or Chalet Honlet-Bordier, taken from the back.

Illustration24-CPA-Chalet Honlet Bordier

Illustration 24 – Postcard send on January 18th 1915 showing the Honlet-Bordier Villa where General Foch was to establish his headquarters later that year.

Illustration25-Modern stereo-Gate of the Foch Villa

Illustration 25 – Modern stereo showing the front gate of the Foch Villa and the plaque reminding the visitor that it was General Foch’s Headquarters at some point during the war.

There are other places that were photographed in the village. These have not been identified yet but someone reading this blog may recognise the buildings from another photo, a postcard or a woodcut.

Illustration26-More unidentified buildings

Illustration 26 – Stereo card showing an unidentified building in the village of Dury.

Illustration27-Unidentified building

Illustration 27 – Stereo card featuring some more buildings. It is a shame there is no negative for this image as it may have allowed me to read what was on the sign above the door of the house on the right.

Out of the fifty-four images which I bought twenty-six were taken in and around a farmhouse, belonging to or rented by a wealthy family who remain to be identified. I am confident they were rather well off by the number of servants they had. These photos show the farmhouse itself, some of the outbuildings, the pond or manure pit next to it, and include several very nice snapshots of its occupants, including a few of the owners’ children and of their servants. On my short visit to Dury, Alain Boucher took me to a place which he and a couple of other persons –including the “memory of the village”, Mrs. Nicole Devisme – thought could be the very same farmhouse and is now the home as well as the workshop of the village joiner and of his artist wife. We rang the bell, explained the purpose of our visit, were shown an aerial photograph of the house some time in the early 1960s and had a long chat with Roxane and Serge Carlu, the current owners, from which it became obvious that it was indeed the very same place. The outbuildings on the front of the main house have all gone but the house itself is very much the same and the original well is still there. There used to be a hand pump next to it which has disappeared but there is no mistaking the position of the well between the two windows on the left. This was a very unexpected and very pleasant find.

Illustration28-The Farmhouse

Illustration 28 – One of the stereos, showing the farmhouse and a very much photographed outbuilding on the left. The pond or manure pit can be seen in the foreground.

Illustration29-Outbuilding

Illustration 29 – Could this be the owner of the farmhouse and could that amazon be his wife ? I wish I knew !

Illustration30-The Servants

Illustration 30 – Some of the servants, having a good time !

Illustration31-Lady of the house children and servants

Illustration 31 – The lady of the house, two of her children, and three of her servants. The child on the ladder might be a boy since boys were dressed exactly like girls and wore dresses until they were “breeched”, around seven.

Illustration32-Family Group

Illustration 32 – A very nice family group of sixteen people, standing or sitting in front of the farmhouse. I would really like to know who these people are !

Now that we have examined several of the images in the lot I bought from Jan Lagendijk it is high time to try my hand at finding out who the photographer of these images was. In my first article, with nothing to go on but the seven collodion negatives in my possession, I had come to the conclusion that the photographer might have been Alcide Duvette or his partner Arsène Romanet. When I received the fifty-four cards I must say my first feeling was that my former theories could not hold water and that this was the work of an amateur living in the village. Here is why !

The images are mounted on card which is not only much thinner but also larger than the ones used by publishers of stereo cards from the same period. The usual dimensions of commercial stereographs are 178 by 83 mm (7 by 3.5 inches), give or take a couple of millimetres. Most of the cards of Dury, however, are 181 by 95 mm and the mount is so thin that they are all curved. There is also the fact that the pictures were taken on different days, sometimes weeks or months apart. One can imagine the Henry brothers commissioning a professional artist to have some images taken but it is more difficult to explain his coming back to the village repeatedly to photograph a farmyard, the growing of a vine, the changes in a wood pile, and the repairs made to one of the walls of an outbuilding. This is made obvious in the following images. The first two show the wall on the right of the outbuilding is badly in need of some repairs and, in the first one the vine is nearly non existent. The third one not only shows the wall has been repaired but that the vine is now fairly luxurious. This did not happen overnight and there was an interval of several weeks or months between these three photographs. It means the photographer came to the same farm over and over again, which does not make sense unless he was living there or somewhere else in the village.

Illustration33-Outbuilding-1

Illustration 33 – Stereo card showing the damaged wall of the outbuilding and a nearly non existent vine.

Illustration34-Outbuilding-2

Illustration 34 – The vine has grown but the wall still hasn’t been repaired.

Illustration35-Outbuilding-3

Illustration 35 – The vine has expanded and the wall has been fixed.

The conclusion above sent me straight back to the archives and the few documents that have survived the successive invasions, wars and destructions. I could not find the census for 1866, which would certainly have provided some answers, or at least some clues, but I came across the electoral register for Dury for the year 1869 which was the closest I could get to information that was collated around the right period of time. There, on the last line of the last page, I saw something which made my heart skip a couple of beats:

199, VIVOT Emile, 42, Photographe, La Chaussée, ABSENT

So there was a photographer living in Dury just before 1869 ! His name appears in the list of people who were removed from the electoral register either because they had died, or simply because they had moved somewhere else. This particular register recorded additions and modifications that were made to a former list which was closed on March 31st 1868. In those days, in order to be allowed to vote you had to be male, over twenty-one, and to have resided in the village or town where you were voting for over six months. This means that, in order to have been included in the electoral register for 1868, this Vivot person, who was well over twenty-one then, had lived at Dury since October 1st 1867 at the latest, which matches the period when the photos of the Henry brothers were made. Just as a reminder, the said photos include a poster for a by-election that took place in August 1867 following the death of the sitting member of parliament the month before. Since the poster could not have been made and pasted on the door of the workshop before July 17th, the day when the member of parliament died, the photos must have been taken some time between the end of July and the end of the year, before the said poster had time to deteriorate since it looks quite new in the images.

In the absence of a definite name for a potential amateur contender to the authorship of these stereoscopic images – at least for the moment – what do we know about Emile Vivot ?

Jean-Pierre Emile Vivot was born at Sailly-Saillisel, Somme, on April 16th 1822 to Médard Vivot and his wife Ludivine Lefebvre. They both died in 1865 and had at least one other son, Charles François, born in 1818. Nothing is known of Emile’s life prior to the early 1860s when he was already a photographer with a studio at 58, rue des Trois-Cailloux, and 2, Passage de la Comédie, Amiens. This studio was advertised as a branch of Eugène Disdéri’s Parisian photographic firm and was run under the name Vivot & Co. Since I could not find anything in the press of the time relating to such a company I wonder if it was not just a verbal agreement between two or more “partners” who never bothered to make it legal. It is difficult to determine when Vivot opened his studio at 58, rue des Trois-Cailloux but all the cartes-de-visite on which his name appear look early and match the ones made by Disdéri in the early sixties. I was fortunate to buy one of those rather uncommon cards with the date 1864 handwritten on the back.

Illustration36-Vivot et Cie

Illustration 36 – Two cartes de visite by the Amiens Studio Vivot & Co. On the back of the second one from the left the date 1864 was handwritten.

It would have been nice to check on other electoral registers for Dury when Vivot’s name first appeared but, unfortunately, the only other registers that have survived are for 1850, and 1855, which was before he moved to the village. Since the electoral registers for Amiens do not exist between 1849 and 1914, here is another avenue of investigation which is closed. I must consider myself lucky that the 1869 register survived when most of the other ones, including the one closed in March 1868, have disappeared.

By checking the birth, death and wedding certificates of the period, I found that soon after moving back to Amiens, Emile Vivot marrried one Joséphine Honorine Pinsdez, forty-one, on November 17th 1869. On his wedding certificate, Vivot is described as a photographer, operating from and living at 4, Boulevard de Beauvais. The bride must have been heavily pregnant on her wedding day since a son was born on January 24th 1870, just over two months after the ceremony. The newborn was named Raoul Emile. He became, in turn, a photographer for a short time in the 1890s.

Joséphine Pinsdez, Vivot’s bride, already had a thirteen year old son, Raoul Auguste, born out of wedlock on February 2nd 1856, and who, for some time, also took up photography and ran his stepfather’s studio after his death at the age of  fifty-seven.

There is a fairly large number of cartes-de-visite portraits by Vivot which have survived and can be bought from a few pounds to over a hundred pounds, depending on the seller and the subject. Here is a selection of some of them showing the evolution of the backs, mainly after 1875. The most common ones seem to be the portraits taken in the early to late 1870s, when Emile Vivot was still alive. If a lot of the poses are rather traditional, there are also more unconventional ones, as can be seen here.

Illustration37-CDVs Vivot

Illustration 37 – Emile Vivot. Some of his carte-de-visite portraits from the early 1870s.

Illustration38-CDVs Vivot

Illustration 38 – Emile Vivot. Some of his later carte-de-visite portraits.

I can’t help but think that the back of the card showing the cherub with a camera and a painter’s palette is a reference to Vivot’s former career as a painter of theatrical sets. I have found mention of a partnership between one Victor Pelletier and one Emile Vivot, both painters of theatrical sets, in a newspaper from 1854. I have not been able to ascertain, however, whether this Emile Vivot is the one and same person as the photographer under study but the presence of the palette on the back of the carte-de-visite encourages me to think Vivot was a painter before being a photographer and that he spent some time at Paris where he may have been a pupil or assistant of Disdéri before opening his studio at Amiens. This is pure conjecture for the moment but it does make sense and would explain why his first Amiens studio was described as a branch of Disdéri’s. Another reason for this could be that one of Disdéri’s partners in 1857 was Amiens-born painter-then-photographer Désiré François Lebel (1809-1874). It is unclear how Disdéri and Lebel met but some time in 1857 the latter lent former 12,000 francs, a huge sum at the time, and was the only active partner in the firm Disdéri & Cie [6] until he withdrew one year later leaving Disdéri to run the studio on his own. Lebel never got his money back, however. His name appears on some cartes-de-visites as the manager of a photographic studio (see illustration 44 below) which was located at 2, Passage de la Comédie, one of the addresses featuring on Vivot’s early cartes-de-visite. We may assume that Vivot and Lebel were partners hence the name Vivot & Cie on the CDVs. This, again, needs corroboration. The mention “photographie artistique et industrielle” (artistic and industrial photography) on the back label is the same as the one used by the widow of book-seller Alfred Caron, who, shortly after her husband’s death, opened a photographic studio at the same address as Vivot and Lebel. I have found a carte-de-visite without the name of an owner or manager, simply the mention “Photographie Artistique and Industrielle” and the address 2, Passage de la Comédie. The studio was apparently run by Lebel at the beginning before being taken over by Mrs Caron’s children, Léon and Fernand when they were old enough and proficient enough in the photographic art. The original studio was destroyed during the first world war so here again is another dead end for it means the glass negatives belonging to Vivot then Lebel then Caron must have been smashed to bits when the building was hit.

Illustration39-Photographie Artistique et Industrielle-F&R-editing

Illustration 39 – Carte-de-visite bearing the mention “Photographie artistique et industrielle” without a photographer’s or manager’s name, just the address 2, passage de la Comédie.

Illustration40-Maison Veuve Alfred Caron-F et R-editing

Illustration 40 – Carte de visite showing the mention Widow (Veuve or Ve) Alfred Caron on the back followed by the initials of two of her sons, Léon and Fernand.

Illustration41-Studio Caron détruit pendant la guerre-editing

Illustration 41– Postcard published after the first world war showing what was left of Léon Caron’s photographic studio after it was destroyed by a bomb or a shell.

By some strange coincidence, Lebel died … in Dury. Unfortunately, the death certificates for that year have disappeared so that it is not possible to find out where he lived at the time of his passing but the tables drawn up every ten years bear trace of his death on, or just before, August 1st, 1874.

Going back to the cherub, it is probably also an allusion to a famous Amiens sculpture, the Ange pleureur or Weeping Cherub by Nicolas Blasset (1600-1659) which can be seen on chanoine Guilain Lucas de Genville’s funeral monument in Amiens Cathedral. The cherub was made popular all over the world during the first world war when British soldiers sent thousands of postcards featuring it to their friends and families. This cherub was already famous before that, however, as the stereo cards, the CDV and the early postcard below bear witness to. The cherub on the monument is sitting between a skull on one side, and a sandglass on the other, both emphasising the shortness of our lives on this earth. On the CDV the palette and the camera seem put the emphasis on the lasting memories, whether happy or not, brought by paintings and photographs.

Illustration42-KALTENBACHER-L'ange pleureur-editing

Illustration 42 – Nicolas Charles Kaltenbacher. Stereo card of the Weeping Cherub in Amiens Cathedral.

Illustration43-Stereo LL-L'Ange pleureur

Illustration 43 –  Léon & Lévy. Stereo card of the Weeping Cherub in Amiens Cathedral.

Illustration44-CDV LEBEL-Ange Pleureur

Illustration 44 – Désiré François Lebel. Front and back of a Carte-de-Visite showing the same cherub.

Illustration45-CPA-1899-L'Ange pleureur par Blasset

Illustration 45 – Early postcard (1899) showing the same sculpture.

Jean-Pierre Emile Vivot remained a photographer until he breathed his last, on August 16th 1879. His death certificate was signed by his step-son, Raoul Pinsedez [7], who was then twenty-three and also a photographer. Vivot’s studio did not disappear with him but carried on, under the same name for over a decade. It was probably run by his widow, his stepson, and later, but only for a short period, by his own son. Advertisements for the studio only appear in the press after Vivot’s death. The earliest one I could find is dated September 25th 1879.

Joséphine survived her husband by forty-one years and passed away at Amiens on November 21st, 1920, at the age of ninety-two. Their son, Raoul Emile had died just over two months earlier, on September 10th 1920, in his fiftieth year.

Raoul Auguste was still a photographer on July 22nd 1890, when he married Romania born Stéphanie Zoé Boucher. He took part in the first world war and was made a knight of the legion of honour on July 31st 1915. One of his sons, Gaëtan, was killed on the front on October 21st 1916. Raoul Auguste Pinsedez died at the age of seventy-four, in February 1931.

Now that we know a little more about Emile Vivot, is there anything, apart from his calling and his presence at Dury around the time the photos were made, which can tie him to those images ? I would love to answer in the positive but I honestly cannot be one hundred percent sure. I have never seen any stereocard bearing his name, only cartes-de-visite, and he may never have taken any stereo in the whole of his photographic career. He is a serious contender because he lived at Dury for some time and at the right period but there is too little evidence to make him the author of those stereoscopic photographs.

This brings us back to a potential wealthy amateur, whose name is still a mystery, or to Duvette and Romanet, and more probably to Duvette himself. I now know he owned a chalet on the main street of Dury – called La Chaussée in old censuses and electoral registers – so he must have spent some time there which could explain why some photos were taken weeks or months apart. We know that Duvette and Romanet took some stereos. They copyrighted one unique stereo card on July 12th 1861. It shows Blasset’s sculpture of the Weeping Cherub/Child, taken from an unusually low angle and therefore quite recognisable. I have seen a scan of it at the Bibliothèque nationale de France but I have never come across a commercial copy so far. I am not even sure it was ever sold commercially. The photograph registered at the “dépôt légal” is mounted on a very crudely cut thin card mount with the names “A. Duvette et Romanet” printed on the front, and it is pseudoscopic, which means it cannot even be seen in 3-D with a stereoscope (the only way to view the original is to squint). Did Duvette and Romanet take other stereos ? I am afraid I don’t know for sure. As seems to be the case for most parts of this story, there is some cruel lack of evidence.

As things stand today Vivot or Duvette could have taken the photos of Dury and of the Henry Brothers. They were both in Dury at the right time and left around the same period, towards the end of 1868. Duvette bade adieu to photography and became a full time banker. His obituary underlines his taste for painting and the arts but does not even mention he was a renowned photographer at some point in his life. Vivot opened a new photographic studio at 4, Boulevard de Beauvais and does not seem to have gone back to Dury after his marriage in 1869.

Does it mean we will never know who took those images ? Never say die. Just as I was not expecting to find over forty more images by the same photographer, who knows what may surface after this article is published ? Someone, somewhere, may have stereo negatives or prints from this lot which might bear a name or contain some clues. If they recognise them thanks to these lines and illustrations there may well be a “part the third” to the mystery of the Dury stereo images. Fingers crossed !

EPILOGUE

I eventually bought the twelve other pictures that were in the original lot Dutch collector Jan Lagendjk purchased over ten years ago. They are mostly photos of Amiens and, once again, raise more questions than they provide answers. I haven’t found anything yet in those images that point to Duvette or to Vivot as the author of the Dury stereo cards so we might be looking for yet another photographer. Other people took – or at least published – stereos of Amiens: Nicolas Charles Kaltenbacher (1820-1885), Eugène Beaudoin (1826-1883), Jules Hippolyte Quéval (1824-1914), Etienne Neurdein (1832-1918) and his brother Louis Antonin (1846-1914), Moyse Léon (1812-1888) & Isaac Lévy (1833-1913), are among the names that spring to mind. There are certainly others.

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

My warmest thanks to the following persons from Dury, whose kindness, enthusiasm and help are greatly appreciated. Their names appear in alphabetical order.

Alain and Anne-Marie Boucher

Serge and Roxane Carlu

Nicole Devismes

Annie Farge, deputy Mayor

Jérome Fedelich, current owner of the Villa Foch

Dominique Pierson

Anne Pinnon, Mayor of Dury

NOTES

[1] The first article was published on Stereoscopy.blog in May 2021. Read it here:

[2] Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell, by Brian May, Denis Pellerin and Paula Fleming. Published in 2013 (first edition) and 2019 (second and complete edition) by the London Stereoscopic Company.

[3] This image (photo number 3008 from sortie US7/2945) can be seen on the website of the National Collection of Aerial Photography (ncap.org.uk).

[4] Abel Duvette was the nephew of photographer-turned-banker Philippe Alcide Duvette (1834-1910) who had some photos of Amiens Cathedral on display at the 1862 and 1867 International Exhibitions and was for some time in partnership with Arsène Romanet (1833-1882).

[5] The chalet was still in the family in 1940 and the previous owners’ daughter, Marie Marguerite Bordier, the widow of one Emile Louis Félix Charpentier was living there when the village was attacked in May 1940. She was killed by a stray bullet and was hurriedly buried in the garden of the property. She was later exhumed and re-buried in the village cemetery, next to her father and mother who respectively died in 1916 and 1929. Her grave bears the mention “War victim”.

[6] There were two silent partners in the firm, Disdéri’s own wife and a friend named Eugène Collet-Corbinière.

[7] Although the name of his mother is always spelt Pinsdez, Raoul’s is usually found as Pinsedez.

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