Tower of Kings at Rheims
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Henri Jean-Louis Le Secq
French, Rheims, 1851
Salt print
13 13/16 x 10 3/16 in.

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Henri Le Secq's close-up view turns this church tower into a work of elaborate sculpture rather than architecture. Commissioned by the French government as part of the 1851 Mission Héliographique (Heliographic Mission), Le Secq photographed the Tower of Kings, the south tower of Notre-Dame Cathedral at Rheims, northeast of Paris, from high up in another tower. Details that would ordinarily be missed from the ground are here revealed with breathtaking clarity.

From 1845 to 1864, the architect Eugène Viollet-le-Duc worked on the restoration of the Cathedral. Construction scaffolding, which almost disappears in the elaborate decoration of the exterior, is visible encasing the tower at left.