Andre Giroux: 19th Century Photographer and Painter

Born in 1801 in Paris, Andre Giroux was the son of Alphonse Giroux, who was a painter as well as a maker of camera equipment for the Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre company. Due to his father's association with both photography and painting, it isn't surprising that Andre showed an interest in both areas and combined the arts in a unique way.

Andre Giroux and the Salon

Andre Giroux was active in exhibiting at the Salon art exhibition, a very prestigious Paris competition, from 1819 to 1872. In the 1825 event, Andre Giroux won the Rome Prize for Historical Landscape for The Hunt of Meleager. Artists associated with the Romantic Movement, who greatly disliked the classical landscape genre, protested during the awards ceremony, ultimately reducing Giroux to tears.
However, the criticism didn't stop Giroux. In 1831, Andre Grioux won the Gold Medal at the Salon for his View of Casa Prota in the Sabine Hills.

Andre Giroux and the Ecole des Beaux-Arts

Andre Giroux started his formal training at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts in 1821. The Ecole de Beaux-Arts was originally established in 1648 by Cardinal Mazarin. By the time that Giroux started to attend, the school had been under government control for more than 100 years. The school emphasized a classical education in Greek and Roman architecture as well as in studying the great artists of the past.

Andre Giroux and Photography

The photography of Andre Giroux was greatly influenced by his training in painting. He strived to make his prints look more like paintings by reworking his glass negatives. He would retouch the negatives by scratching or painting them, sometimes using India ink. The result was that the reworked prints were less harsh than a standard print would have been. This scratching technique is known as cliché-verre, or glass print.

The Ponds at Obtevoz, Rhone (1855), part of the J. Paul Getty Museum collection, is one of Andre Giroux's salted prints that displays the combination of a photograph with a painter's touch. Giroux softened the lines of the marshy area in this photo to create a more romantic look and atmosphere.

Andre Giroux: The Later Years

In 1870, Andre Giroux received the title chevalier (what is today known as a knight) from the Legion d'Honneur. This award was a great honor for Giroux.

Andre Giroux died in Paris on Nov. 18, 1878. He is remembered today as one of the pioneers of photography.