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Auguste Belloc

Auguste Belloc, 1800-1867

Auguste Belloc was born in Paris in 1800. He attended the Lycee Louis-le-Grand, where he had Humbert de Molard as a schoolmate, a person with whom he would strike up a long- standing friendship twenty years later, based on a shared passion for photography. We have no records of Belloc's further schooling. In 1829 he published a first volume, perhaps a thesis.

His early work consisted in miniatures and watercolors but he soon was to discover photography. Towards 1845 he became enthused by the discovery of the wet-plate collodion process. He was very impressed with the sharp detail rendered by that process, and set to work in search of improvements to the negative's support. His research paralleled efforts in the same direction by the Englishman Archer, who put his first glass plate negatives up for display in 1848. When Archer made his perfected technique public in 1851, Belloc proved himself a good loser by terming the new process "Archerotype".

By 1851 Belloc had his own studio at boulevard Montmartre 5, and already had taken to specializing in portraiture and nudes. He gave lessons in photography in connection with the two major techniques of the day, daguerreotypy and the wet-plate collodion process. He contributed work to the Universal Exhibition at London's Crystal Palace. He collaborated with the painter and photographer Alexandra Clausel, of the city of Troyes (southeast of Paris) who had come up with a lacquer for his oil paintings.

Together, in 1852, they perfected a wax coating process for the purposes of conferring a certain luster to images on salted paper. His notes on the project read as follows: "Positive prints seen under water look beautiful, and certainly we would like them to hold on to their wet sheen; yet when they dry, they lose their translucency and forcefulness, together with all their detail, their refinements and the charm of their coloring. Glossy wax gives them back the ever so soft and harmonious lustre lost through drying."

In 1853 Belloc brought out, at author's expense, his first book on photography: "A Theoretical and Practical Treatise on Collo- dion-Process Photography". The following year he moved to rue de Lancry 16, where he set up a photographic printing press. He became a founding member of the Societe Francaise de Photographic (French Society of Photography).

1854, Auguste Belloc



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