Ovide Brunet, the Atelier Photographique de Livernois & Cie., and Sites et végétaux du Canada: The Art and Science of Early Canadian Botanical Photography

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Cull, Brendan
Botanical Photography , Nineteenth-Century Photography , Sites et végétaux du Canada , Ovide Brunet , Québec , International Science , Jules-Isaïe Benoît dit Livernois , Botanical Illustration , Élise L’Hérault dit L'Heureux , Photo-History
Published in 1866, Sites et végétaux du Canada was an early photographic experiment in botanical illustration. It was the result of a collaboration between Abbé Ovide Brunet (1826-1876), a botany professor at the Université Laval, and the photography studio of Livernois & Cie., noted Québec City photographers and artists. Previous research has considered the album as the aesthetic accomplishment of Jules-Isaïe Benoît dit Livernois (1830-1865), excluding Brunet from the art historical narrative. In this thesis, I present an analysis of the various contexts through which the images were imbued with meaning, considering the botanical alongside the aesthetic, to understand how this album fit into the visual culture of early Canadian science. I examine Sites et végétaux du Canada as a physical object and the product of an international network of art and science. Viewed internationally at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris, it showcased thirty-five albumen print photographs as part of the Canadian displays. In its representation of Canadian landscapes and native plant specimens, the album effectively employed photography to present Canada as a centre of cutting-edge scientific investigation.
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