New York

Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey, Ayoucha, Cairo, 1842–43, daguerreotype,
3 3⁄4 × 4 3⁄4".

“Monumental Journey: The Daguerreotypes of Girault de Prangey”

The Met | Metropolitan Museum of Art

In many ways, this was a stunning show of firsts. It was the US debut of Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey’s iridescent daguerreotypes, gathering 120 of the earliest images of the Eastern Mediterranean, shot between 1842 and 1845. (Louis Daguerre introduced his groundbreaking photographic process only a few years before these pictures were taken, in 1839.) The images tracked the Frenchman’s voyage and his desire to document Islamic architecture, while also capturing the effects of all types of upheaval—for instance in his pictures of the Parthenon in Athens with its destroyed mosque and its (never-ending) renovations. After Italy and Greece, Girault traveled to present-day Syria and places then called Syria, which included Israel, Lebanon, Jordan, and the Palestinian territories. Throughout, he gained rare access to ancient sites, though how he did so, among many other specifics, is

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