“[E]veryone knows [Mr.] Baldus,” a reviewer wrote in 1859. By the mid-1850s, Édouard-Denis Baldus was the most successful photographer in France and at the height of his career. He began as a painter, turning to photography in 1849 when paper negatives were just becoming popular. Throughout much of his life, he listed himself in city directories as peintre photographe (painter photographer), in reference more to his training than to his practice. In 1851 Baldus became one of the forty founding members of the Société Héliographique, the first photographic organization in the world.
Baldus specialized in images of the landscape, architecture, and railways. In 1851 the Commission des Monuments Historiques (Historic Monuments Commission) asked Baldus to document architecture in France. These assignments, which were awarded to several photographers, were called missions héliographiques. In 1855 Baldus received his largest commission to document the construction of the Musée du Louvre.
Photographic enlargements were not yet possible in the 1850s, so Baldus’s photographs were contact prints from negatives as large as 10 x 14 inches. He often joined together several negatives to produce panoramas, creating images on an even grander scale. From J. Paul Getty Museum