Bruno Braquehais

Bruno Braquehais
Born Auguste Bruno Braquehais[1]
(1823-01-28)January 28, 1823[2]
Dieppe, France[2]
Died February 13, 1875(1875-02-13) (aged 52)[2]
La Celle-Saint-Cloud, France[2]
Occupation Photographer
Notable work Paris During the Commune (1871)
Spouse(s) Laure[1]

Auguste Bruno Braquehais (January 28, 1823 – February 13, 1875) was a French photographer active primarily in Paris in the mid-19th century. His photographic work documenting the 1871 Paris Commune is considered an important early example of photojournalism.[1][3] While largely forgotten after his death, his work was rediscovered during preparations for the Commune's centennial in 1971, and his photographs have since been the exhibited at numerous museums, including the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire, the Musée d'Orsay, and the Carnavalet Museum.[1]


Braquehais was born in Dieppe, Seine-Maritime, in 1823. Deaf from a young age, he attended the Institut royal des sourds et muets (Royal Institute of the Deaf and Mute) in Paris. He worked as a lithographer in Caen until 1850, when he met photographer Alexis Gouin (ca. 1790s–1855), and moved to Paris to work in Gouin's studio. Gouin specialized in colored daguerreotypes (they were colored by his stepdaughter, Laure) and stereoscopic plates.[1]

Stereoscopic plate of a reclining female nude, taken by Braquehais ca. 1856

In 1852, Braquehais opened his own studio on the rue de Richelieu in Paris, where he produced images of female nudes. Following the death of Gouin in 1855, he managed Gouin's studio with Gouin's widow and stepdaughter (he married Gouin's stepdaughter, but sources are unclear whether it was before or after Gouin's death). In 1863, after the death of Gouin's widow, Braquehais opened a new studio, Paris Photography, on the Boulevard des Italiens. Braquehais's work was exhibited at the Société française de photographie in 1864 and at the Paris Universal Exposition of 1867.[1]

In March 1871, a group of disenchanted soldiers, workers, and professionals seized control of Paris and set up a government known as the Paris Commune. This was one of the first major events in France to be "covered" by photographers.[3] While many of these photographers focused on the ruins and destruction in the aftermath of the fall of the Commune, Braquehais ventured out of his studio at the height of the Commune's power, photographing its participants and events, most notably the toppling of the Vendôme Column.[1] Braquehais published 109 of his photographs in a booklet, Paris During the Commune. After the fall of the Commune, government authorities used Braquehais's photos to track down and arrest the Commune's supporters.[4]

In the years after the Paris Commune, Braquehais struggled financially, though he did do photographic advertising work for a clock company. By early 1874, he was bankrupt, and was jailed for 13 months for loss of confidence. He died in February 1875, a few days after his release.[1]


Communards pose with the toppled statue of Napoleon following the destruction of the Vendôme Column on May 8, 1871

Braquehais's early photographs consist primarily of portraits and female nudes,[5] many of which were colored by his wife, Laure. Art critics have pointed out that many of Braquehais's photographs of female nudes are cluttered with distracting objects (e.g., the Venus de Milo), giving the model the appearance of being isolated.[1] Notable portraits by Braquehais include composer Ludwig Minkus and choreographer Arthur Saint-Léon.

Braquehais's 109 photographs of the Paris Commune document the Commune at its height and after its fall.[3] His photographs documenting the toppling of the Vendôme Column include scenes of the Column before its fall, a scene showing workers with ropes tied to the column ready to pull it down, and a photograph of Communards posing next to the toppled statue of Napoleon that had graced the top of the column. Braquehais also took numerous photographs of the various barricades the Communards had erected in anticipation of an invasion of republican forces, troops gathered at Tuileries Palace and Porte Maillot, and the ruins of the Maison Thiers.[1]

Braquehais's photographs have been exhibited by the Musée d'Orsay, the Musée d'Art et d'Histoire at St. Denis, the Carnavalet Museum, and the Budapest Museum, and are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris.[1]


  1. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Frédérique Taubenhaus, John Hannavy (ed.), Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. 1 (Routledge, 2007), pp. 201–202.
  2. 1 2 3 4 Auguste Bruno Braquehais. Bildarchiv Foto Marburg. Retrieved: 15 February 2012.
  3. 1 2 3 Chrystel Jubien, "Braquehais Reporter Archived April 11, 2008, at the Wayback Machine., Musée d'art et d'histoire de Saint-Denis website. Retrieved: 16 February 2012. "However, Braquehais contributed to the birth of photojournalism through his original productions, which consisted of almost 140 plates of the Commune".(French)
  4. Mary Warner Marien, Photography: A Cultural History (London: Laurence King Publishing, 2001), p. 115.
  5. BRUNO BRAQUEHAIS (1823-1875). Retrieved: 15 February 2012. (French)
Wikimedia Commons has media related to Bruno Braquehais.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/19/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.