Yucatan is elsewhere
Désiré Charnay (1828-1915) was an archaeologist, a writer and a photographer and one of the greatest French explorers of the 19th century. He was fascinated by Mexico and the accounts he wrote about his explorations, together with his numerous photographs, many of which are still unpublished, made him famous. However, fame is a fickle mistress and soon forgets those she has favoured. The Bibliothèque nationale de France recently put on an exhibition of a few of his photographs. The Quai Branly Museum owns some 1000 old prints and 500 glass plates, which constitutes the largest collection of this photographer’s work. Charnay was a pioneer, with regard both to his inventive technique and in his sensitive approach to portraiture and landscapes. This catalogue witnesses to this and takes art lovers on an exceptional journey, from Yucatan to Java, and then on to Australia, passing via Madagascar. As one of the authors represented in this work, Pascal Mongne emphasises, Charnay was a: ‘very colourful person’ with a complex personality, whose work, which has considerable scientific merit, is yet characterised by a romantic imprint.