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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Charles Marville

Born: Charles Bossu 
Born: Charles François Bossu 
Dates:  1813, 17 July - 1879, 1 June
Born:  France, Paris
Died:  France, Paris
Active:  France
He began his career as a draftsman making wood engravings and lithographs. French photographer specializing in religious sites. By 1851 he was working for the Louvre Museum in Paris as an official photographer. He also took a series of about 425 images of the ancient roads that were to be destroyed by Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann’s redesign of Paris. A decade later he returned to the same localities to photograph the new roads. He did a remarkable series on the kiosks, pissoirs, decorative ironwork and gas lights along the new streets of Paris.
The Musée Carnavalet (Paris) and the State Library of Victoria (Melbourne), with over 320 digitized examples online, have excellent collections of his photographs. 
Stereographs project 
Business locations 
Paris, France 
View recorded by Darrah; no further info. 
T.K. Treadwell & William C. Darrah (Compiled by), Wolfgang, Sell (Updated by), 11/28/2003, Photographers of the World (Non-USA), (National Stereoscopic Association)
Credit: National Stereoscopic Association with corrections and additions by Alan Griffiths and others.
NOTE: You are probably here because you have a stereograph to identify. Please email good quality copies of the front and back to so we can create reference collections for all.

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Charles Marville
Self-Portrait at a Window 
1851, 20 February
Family history 
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Exhibitions on this website

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Supplemental information


Charles Marville

Charles Marville was a painter and a lithographic artist, but he is most well known for his photographs of Paris in the 1860s. Unfortunately, there is not much information on Marville's life other than the impressive body of work he left behind. Sometime in the 1850s Marville was asked to document the old quarters of the French capital by the government's Commission for Monumental Historical Monuments. Marville purposely took the photographs of Paris's architecture and streets scenes when it was raining, so that the soft diffused light mixed with the rain on the cobblestone produced a picturesque image that elicited a feeling of perfection. One of Marville's good friends was Blanquart-Evrard and through the years he published many of Marville's images, including a group of his negatives of France and Germany in the album Art Religieux in 1854.
It has been said that Marville accomplished "documentary perfection" with his images of Paris before it was destroyed by Napoleon III and Baron Haussmann's urban renewal projects. Marville's body of photographs is one of the few records left of Paris before 1870. Marville's work can be found in collections at the IMP/GEH in Rochester, NY, the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City, The Museum of Modern Art, New York City, and the Bibliotheque Nationale in Paris. A book containing many works by Marville entitled, Marville Paris was published by Hazan in 1994.
[Contributed by Lee Gallery] 

Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
 Go to website
The Cleveland Museum of Art, USA has a biography on this photographer. [Scroll down the page on this website as the biography may not be immediately visible.] Go to website

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.70 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.320 
• Lenman, Robin (ed.) 2005 The Oxford Companion to the Photograph (Oxford: Oxford University Press)  [Includes a short biography on Charles Marville.] 
• Weaver, Mike (ed.) 1989 The Art of Photography 1839-1989 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press) p.461 [This exhibition catalogue is for the travelling exhibition that went to Houston, Canberra and London in 1989.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.188-189 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Naef, Weston 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum - Handbook of the Photographic Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum) p.29, 63 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Charles Marville are included in this classic history.] 
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