The Destruction of Strasbourg

From upper cover: Belagerung von Strassburg 1870. 20 Blätter photographischer Aufnahmen der Breschen, Uebergänge, Thore und anderer militairisch bedeutender Ansichten…Aufgenommen in den Tagen vom 1 bis 3ten October 1870 unter Leitung des Ingenieur Majors Albrecht.

Complete set of 20 original albumen photographs (image sizes: 170 x 250 mm. & 230 x 190 mm.) by Charles David Winter mounted on card boards (440 x 350 mm.). Folio, orig. portfolio with large printed title pasted on upper cover (cloth spine a little worn, some rubbing to boards), orig. cloth ties. Strasbourg: Winter Fassoli, 1870.

A fine set of this extremely rare portfolio of 20 albumen photographs by the Strasbourg photographer Charles David Winter (1821-1904). These photographs reveal the devastation that took place during the siege of Strasbourg in August and September 1870 by Germany in the Franco-Prussian War. This siege was the first example of “total war,” a new kind of warfare with indiscriminate violence.

Winter began his career as a lithographer but later turned to photography and opened his own daguerreotype studio in 1848. By 1852 he was making salted paper prints and using the collodion process. Winter made portraits, landscapes, and studies of sculptures. The photographs in this album were made in October 1870 under the supervision of the German engineer Major Albrecht.

“Winter’s greatest accomplishments, however, are his photographs documenting the urban transformation of Strasbourg in the second half of the nineteenth century including the building and demolition in the city center (1855-1880), the construction of a railroad bridge over the Rhine (1858-61), and the restoration of the Cathedral in 1857-59. Striking for both their large size and their fine detail, his photographs revealed the formal beauty in new forms of architecture and engineering. Winter also recorded, in wrenching detail, the devastating destruction of Strasbourg following the Franco-Prussian war of 1870.”–Sarah Kennel in John Hannavy, ed., Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, p. 1501.

“In contrast to Germany’s triumphal framing of Strasbourg’s damaged cityscape, Charles Winter, one of France’s most eminent nineteenth-century photographers, provided an alternative Alsatian perspective on the disfigured city in his album of the Siege of Strasbourg [the present work]. The album’s photographs, silent witnesses to Strasbourg’s devastation, offered a dark premonition of the total wars to envelop Europe in the twentieth century.”–Dunlop, Cartophilia, p. 172.

Apart from some dustiness to the covers and boards, a fine and complete set of photographs with strong tonality. The boards are a little foxed.

Price: $9,500.00

Item ID: 6927