Pont de la Mulatière

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Object Details


Pont de la Mulatière


Édouard Baldus (French, born Germany, 1813 - 1889)




France (Place created)
Lyon, France (Place depicted)


about 1861


Albumen silver print from a glass negative


28.4 × 44 cm (11 3/16 × 17 5/16 in.)

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Photographed from below by Edouard Baldus, the Mulatière Bridge over the Rhône River appears monumental. The bridge represents the industrial progress of Second Empire France: one arch spans the entire length of the photographic frame, dwarfing the simple, rough-hewn barge moored in its shadow, which symbolizes the French past. The rubble at the bottom left suggests not ancient ruins but an active, modern construction site just out of the frame. The official-looking characters assembled atop the bridge contrast with the workers and observers on the riverbank. The image heralds progress, much like the railroad whose tracks are barely visible on the far bank; both represent a dramatic improvement in technology for France.

In July 1861 Baldus was commissioned to produce an album of views of the structures and environments along the railroad from Lyon to the Mediterranean. This albumen print was included in the album.

Related Works
The Flowering of Early French Photography, 1840-1870 (April 28 to June 28, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 28 to June 28, 1987
The Flowering of Early French Photography: Selections from the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (December 20, 1988 to May 7, 1989)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), December 20, 1988 to February 12, 1989
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), March 11 to May 7, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Real / Ideal: Photography in France, 1847-1860 (August 30 to November 27, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2016