Palace of the Governor, Uxmal, Mexico
Désiré Charnay (French, 1828–1915)
Image: 43.5 x 33.1 cm (17 1/8 x 13 1/16 in.) Sheet: 70.4 x 53.9 cm (27 11/16 x 21 1/4 in.)
Medium or Technique
Photograph, albumen print from wet-collordion-on-glass negative
Not On View
The adventurer Désiré Charnay was inspired to photograph Mayan ruins in Mexico by Frederick Catherwood’s daguerreotypes from his 1841 exploration of the Yucatán with John Lloyd Stephens. Charnay wrote of the difficulties of using the wet plate process in the intense heat at Uxmal: either the collodion dried too quickly or the chemicals decomposed. Still, he found it preferable to the paper process for achieving the sharpest possible recording of architectural detail and inscriptions. In this photograph of the governor’s palace, the careful stonework that animates the building’s surface is fully revealed by Charnay’s skillfully modulated exposure.
LL, in ink: Charnay, photogr./Pl. 47./Gide, editeur, Paris/Palais du Gouverneur, A Uxmal./Detail de la porte principale. Verso, in left margin, in graphite: 6000 U.S. [...] (indecipherable).
Robert Hershkowitz Ltd., Sussex, England; from whom purchased by MFA, June 2000.
Charles Amos Cummings Fund