Entrance to the Donzère Pass
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Édouard-Denis Baldus
French, about 1861
Albumen silver print
13 1/4 x 17 in.

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Baldus structured this composition around the perspective lines of the landscape's railway tracks, embankment, and lakeside path, which converge at the center. Human command over the natural world is underscored not only in the photograph's strong geometrical organization but also in its subject. Railways and steam-powered locomotives, a major technological development of the 1800s, transformed life and perceptions of distance by dramatically changing the ease and speed with which one could traverse the countryside.