The open-air exhibition in the centre of Warsaw presents the first shots of Warsaw taken by Karol Beyer, a pioneer of Polish press photography.
Portrait of the Misses Stecka with a doll by Karol Beyer, 1862
The open-air exhibition in the centre of Warsaw presents the first shots of Warsaw taken by Karol Beyer, a pioneer of Polish press photography
These images are a testimony to the life of 19th century photographer Karol Beyer and a tribute to the ever changing face of Warsaw. The pictures capture the faces of people, long-past buildings, pieces of contemporary and ancient art, and they freeze in time the hope and despair accompanying national upheavals during the tsarist occupation.
Acquainted in France with the technique of using silver on a copper plate called daguerrotype (invented in 1839), Karol Beyer brought the innovative know-how to Poland, and in 1844 opened Warsaw's first daguerrotype studio. For the first time portraits of Poles were produced on glass collotype plates. His atelier was his workshop and a gallery presenting the latest European achievements in the art of photography. As of 1855 he was a member of the Société française de photographie , and he continued traveling around Europe on the constant search for new ways of capturing the present. His initiative to supply newspaper editors with written articles and a corresponding photo prompted the formation of a new profession – press photographer. He captured the brutally repressed patriotic manifestations of 1861. Notably he made portrait of five men killed in the riots – the famous Five Deceased. Between 1962 and 1965 he was imprisoned and sent into exile in Russia.
Alongside the exhibition that runs till the end of August, History Meeting House and the Polish National Museum are launching a new series of mono-graphic albums entitled Photographs of Warsaw. Available in both English and Polish, each album encapsulates the legacy of a famous 19th and 20th century Warsaw photographer, giving an invaluable glimpse into the turbulent history of the capital. The publication has been prepared by historian of photography, curator of iconographic and photographic collections at the National Museum Danuta Jackiewicz. The first in the series is Karol Beyer 1818-1877.
Editor: Marta Jazowska
See more photographs from the collection at www.dsh.waw.pl