The entry of photography into the Universal Exhibitions of the 19th century has already been widely studied, but this is much less true of the role of images – and notably stereoscopic images – as a medium of documentation, reporting, dissemination and remembrance in respect of the exhibitions. In 1855, but especially in 1867, stereoscopy was a major channel for the documentation and dissemination: in 1867 French publishers Léon and Lévy, holders of an exclusive concession with photographer Pierre Petit, were offering some two thousand different views on paper and glass. There was also input from the Anthony company from New York and a few other minor competitors. Beginning with a brief historiographical overview, this article offers a survey of the stereoscopic coverage of the 1867 exhibition by retracing the circumstances of production and the content of the images. Stereoscopy is examined as a medium mirroring the fair and its staging of peaceful competition between nations.
A historian of images and American culture, François Brunet teaches at Université Paris Diderot, where he serves as chair of the Laboratoire de recherches sur les cultures anglophones. His publications include La Photographie. Histoire et contre-histoire (PUF, 2017), La Naissance de l’idée de photographie (PUF, 2011 ), Photography and Literature (Reaktion Books, 2009). He furthermore directed the anthology Agissements du rayon solaire (Presses universitaires de Pau, 2009) as well as L’Amérique des images, Histoire et culture visuelles des États-Unis (Hazan/Université Paris Diderot, 2013). His current research focuses on the international circulation of images in the 19th century and on the photographic imagination of history.
Keywords: stereoscopy, stereography, 1867 World’s Fair, visual history, collections, reproduction