PUISEUX, PIERRE HENRI, AND MAURICE LOEWY.
4 large-format quadrants of the Moon, from the Paris Observatory, 1899, photogravures, each 29¼ x 33½ inches (745 x 850 mm), 2 with printed captions below giving dates and times, enlargement details, and lunar diameters, matted.
MAMMOTH PHOTOGRAVURES OF THE MOON by Puiseux and Loewy, significantly larger than the plates in their Atlas photographique de la lune (Paris, 1896-1910), and probably created specifically for the 1900 Paris Exposition.
The Atlas has been hailed as "the ultimate achievement of nineteenth-century astronomical photography," while "the individual photogravure plates, amongst the largest and finest ever made, are prized by collectors for their sheer aesthetic beauty" (Parr and Badger, The Photobook: a History, vol 1 p 54).
It was only with NASA's Lunar Orbiters in the 1960s that images substantially better than those of Loewy and Puiseux were obtained. Using the the 24-inch equatorial coudé refractor telescope that they had designed, the Frenchmen were able to capture images only under perfect weather conditionsas few as fifty or sixty nights per year. Each night, only four or five of the 7-inch glass plate negatives could be exposed. As a result, their Atlas took fourteen years to complete.
An essay produced by the Library of the University of Bourgogne, France, discusses their copy of the Atlas, which contains seven oversize plates in addition to the 83 folio plates normally found. They note that the "7 très grandes planches in-plano ont été tirées à l'occasion de l'Exposition universelle de 1900 et présentées au Palais de l'Optique." The present photogravures, and those in the following lot, are presumably examples of these seven plates. We have traced no oversize prints in the auction records.
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