SABATIER-BLOT, JEAN-BAPTISTE (1801–1881)
French painter and photographer
Appearing among the most famous portraitists of the Pa- risian daguerreotype of the 1840s, Jean-Baptist Sabatier is still today a poorly known figure among the historians of photography. There was a burst of production, ac- companied by the absence of sources of files relating to him, and a scarcity of his name in the press, which make writing on him difficult.
He was born on January 31, 1801 in Lassur in Ariège. His parents wanted an ecclesiastical career for him, but his fragile health obliged them to withdraw him from seminary. Afterwards, he developed his artistic talents and became a miniaturist, located in Paris at 50 Palais Royal, exhibiting to the Salon on several occasions since 1831 (1835, 1837, 1839, 1841, 1843), always showing portraits of women. In 1838 he married Miss Blot and in 1839 their only daughter, Maria, was born; throughout the years of the 1840s, both were his favored models for daguerreotype portraits.
From the beginning of the 1840s he seemed to become part of the many painters of miniature attracted by the new medium of daguerreotype. During this period he became the pupil of the friend, Daguerre with whom he created at least two portraits, around 1844 (Rochester, George Eastman House and Société française de photographie). It is from 1842 that we find the name “Sabatier-Blot” on the reverse side of a plate of daguerreotype. The follow- ing year this name appeared for the first time under the heading “painter-artist,” with “Palais Royal, 137.” It was probably then that, assisted by his wife, Sabatier simul- taneously practiced the two techniques, daguerreotype and miniature, even if the latter had become less favored. That year, Sabatier presented miniatures to the Salon for
the last time however, he continued to be presented as “a painter in miniature, making portraits with the daguerreo- type” until the 1850s.
Sabatier-Blot presented daguerreotypes at “l’Exposition publique des Produits de l’Industrie” (“Public exposition of Products of Industry”) the fol- lowing year and, according to its publicity, was awarded an honorable mention. The same year, “Sabatier-Blot” appeared for the first time with the heading “Daguerreo- types” and a different address (Palais Royal 163). He was explicitly mentioned as specialist in portraits.
He seemed to have been one of the most sought after portraitists of the capital in the second half of the 1840s. His works, abundant and scattered, are difficult to locate in their totality. They reveal a good techni- cian, famous for perfectly polished plates, which were obtained using a machine of his own invention. Also demonstrated is a certain skill of composition which sometimes distinguished him from his competitors. Sabatier-Blot had access to the traditional accessories of the portrait studio of this period such as the pedestal table covered with a tablecloth or a carpet. The plain backgrounds made it possible to center the attention on the character and to cut out its silhouette more signifi- cantly. Perhaps the naturalness of the poses, often less stiff than in the majority of the works of this period, is particularly noticeable in the series of portraits which he left to his daughter and his wife and can explain the success of his studio.
At the end of the 1840s, Sabatier-Blot was still lo- cated at the Palais Royal but at a different addresses: Palais Royal 137 and Valois 27 (1848) then Palais Royal 129 (1849–58). The other addresses however appear on the back of various plates signed with his name: Palais Royal 43 or Palais Royal 132. In 1849 he presented portraits at the exposition of the Products of Industry. His production was rewarded, even though the jury mentioned that the effects of light were too complicated, which harmed the simplicity and the clar- ity of the images.
The last exposition in which he seemed to have taken part was that of the Hook Deluxe hotel of 1851 where he presented only one portrait. The same year, he became a member of the new Société heliographique. At the time when the technique of collodion was established, his name was rarely mentioned: three years later, he ap- peared among the first members of the Société française de photographie although he did not take part thereafter in any of its expositions. He seemed nevertheless to continue to express interest in the photographic me- dium, and its technical aspects in particular. In 1857 he acquired a patent for an instrument that was easier to manipulate as it was “so simple that one hour is enough to learn photography.” Then in 1863, he developed an- other apparatus to operate in the open air. Moving once again, his studio from to 1861 was located at 25 rue Neuve des Bons Enfants (25 street Neuve of the Good Children), and then from 1863 to 1871, at Valois 37. He continued to make portraits, in particular calling cards, and ended his activity at the beginning of the 1870s. He died in 1881.
Since his large body of work is very scattered today, the most substantial collection consists of a little less than thirty plates belonging to the George Eastman house in Rocheste. These images came from the collection of Gabriel Cromer, a member of family of Sabatier-Blot’s daughter who married, in 1865, to another photographer, Victor Laisné. With the study of this collection, it appears that the best of his work was carried out in margin of his commercial activities such as a portrait of the chemist Jean-Baptist Dumas, probably from 1849–1850, and the many portraits, sometimes with the format full plate, which he created of his daughter and his wife starting from the middle of the 1840s. Sticking more to the expression and the character of his models than with their social status, these images are among the greatest successes of the portrait to the French daguerreotype portraits.
SACHÉ, ALFRED (c. 1853–1885)
Commercial photographer, eldest son of John Edward Saché by his first wife, Alfred joined his father’s pho- tographic studio at Nainital in 1872, where he worked as an assistant till 1874. Working on a seasonal basis, he also opened his own premises in Benares in 1874, which he managed for one season till March 1875. The following month, he established another studio in the hill station of Kasauli, where he also became agent for the sale of his father’s photographs. Between 1876 and 1881, Alfred’s professional activity remains uncertain; the birth of his first child in March 1876 in Amballa and his second child in 1880 in Lahore suggests he may have worked as a photographer in both cities. In 1881, he opened a studio in Dalhousie, which he ran for a few years before traveling to Lahore again, where he possibly established the firm A. Saché & Co before he died in 1885. The firm continued till 1895, possibly run by his half brother John, who was John Edward Saché’s son by his second wife Annie, and managed a studio in Lahore between 1886 and 1895. From 1896, the business A. Saché & Co was renamed Saché & Co and remained in activity till 1900.