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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Eugène Constant

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Dates:  1820 (ca) - 1860 (after)
Active:  Italy

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Eugène Constant was a painter of genre scenes who specialized in views with strong light contrasts and church interiors. We do not know the date of birth and we don't even have details on his origins. He exhibited at the "Salon des beaux-Arts" in Paris in 1842 and at that period he recorded that he lived in both Venice and Paris. Other news of Eugène Constant arrives from a signature to build a monument to the inventors of the heliography Niepce and Daguerre in 1851 and here he was described as "artist-peintre à Rome" (Artist painter in Rome).
His paintings are rare whilst his photos are well known and they were collected, as were those of Flachéron, by Alfred Bruyas a contemporary art collector from Monpellier who listed in his collection inventory five photographs in Rome and one of Venice. An amusing point is that Bruyas doesn't call these photographs but Daguerreotypes. In the first years of photography images on paper were often referred to in this way after the invention of Daguerre. Mr Bruyas wrote beside one of these images, the Cloister of St. Giovanni in Laterano, "Souvenir du cercle français, Rome, 1848 (Souvenir of the French group).
Constant was active as a photographer from 1848 and in that year he learnt the technique of the albumen negative on glass directly from Abel Niepce de Saint-Victor. In 1852 Constant exhibited with Giacomo Caneva at the exhibition of the Art Society of London and both of them were sponsored by Mr. Anthony (Source: "Photography Exhibition at the Society of Arts" The Art Journal 1853, p.56)
In 1857 he exhibited at the Société Française de Photographie with his friend Humbert de Molard.
As mentioned above, Eugène Constant always worked with the albumen negative-on-glass technique that he learnt from the inventor Abel Niepce de Siant-Victor in 1848 together with Humbert de Molard. He used a sliding-box camera that had a 240 x 300 mm plate-holder and therefore the photograph size was almost always around 225 x 285 mm or when using the plate adapter a 180 x 250 mm negative. The principal characteristic of his prints was the clearness of the image due to the thin surrender of the negative on to the albumen. His photos appear engraved with a scalpel and are cleaner than those made with the wet-collodion process. When one compares his calotypes with those of other members of the Caffé Greco group the others appear almost out of focus.
Eugène Constant normally stamped his photographs with a blind-stamp. Some of his photographs can have the stamp of Edouard Mauche, a French print dealer who sold his prints in Florence and Rome.
From first to last Eugéne Constant doesn't seem to have ever abandoned painting for photography, on the contrary he cultivated both media at the same time. He made a portrait of Jaques Mandé Daguerre in 1854 on behalf of Alfred Bruyas.
[Kindly contributed by Marco C. Antonetto, Jan 3, 2008]  
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