VACQUERIE, AUGUSTE (1819–1895)
French photographer and writer
Auguste Vacquerie was a very close friend of the Hugos, who considered him as a member of the family. His brother Charles married Leopoldine Hugo, the writer’s elder and beloved daughter. The consorts both drowned in the river Seine near Villequier, in 1843.
After a classical education, he turned to critique and journalismHe co-founded in Paris the political newspa- per L’Évènement, with Paul Meurice, his good friend from College Charlemagne, Charles, and François-Vic- tor Hugo. On the 2nd of December 1851, threatened as a republican and opponent to Napoleon’s dictatorial regime, he left France. Later he moved to Saint-Helier, Jersey Island, with the two Adeles, the wife and daughter of Victor Hugo, who joined them in August 1852. They stayed there till October 31 1855, when they had to move to Saint-Peter-Port, Guernsey Island.
In Jersey, Vacquerie had to adjust to his new condition of exile, as well as the Hugo family. Far away from his busy social life dedicated to political and journalistic activities, he mainly turned to literature. But along with Victor Hugo, Charles and François-Victor, he was part of the Jersey et l’Archipel de la Manche book, a project launched by Victor Hugo, supposedly in two volumes. The first one, rather inexpensive, included poetry writ- ten by Victor Hugo himself. The second volume, more luxurious, was to include texts on Jersey’s history and institutions, and photographs taken by the Hugos sons and Vacquerie. For him, this book was a rather basic work, far from the interest he had at this time in theatre plays. He hoped it would be an opportunity to make money quickly.
Vacquerie greatly admired Delacroix aesthetic and was influenced by the latter’s concept of photography. Vacquerie mostly worked with negatives on paper, which offered more delicate contours. Yet, he used
glass plates as well. Positives were printed on salted paper, a technique he seems to have learnt from Charles Hugo. Not satisfied with his first attempts, he worked hard on improving his technical skills, as witnessed by letters to his friend Paul Meurice or to his family (see unpublished letters to his mother, sister (Mrs Lefèvre) and nephew Ernest Lefèvre, kept at Musée Victor-Hugo at Villequier).
Auguste Vacquerie usually used small size prints (roughly 10 × 7 cm.), organizing his pictures with great attention to harmony, according to curves, light and shadow balances. Although it is hard to discern Charles Hugo’s or Auguste Vacquerie’s authorship when not clearly established, Vacquerie’s portraits end-up as a remarkable set.
Beside Victor Hugo’s portraits, he shot pictures of many exiled people there (like the Le Flô children or Augustine Allix) or visiting friends (Paul Meurice and his wife) that the corresponding French colony in Jersey still looks very vivid. Focusing on details, he brings to life the daily routine of the exile, like Mrs Hugo read- ing Châtiments dressed in a peplum-like drapery, and the passing of the seasons, pictured in close-ups of the green house sofa with hanging roses above or the garden under the snow. In his images, Vacquerie never parted from his own sense of humor: he pictured his cat sleep- ing as a pendant to a portrait of Hugo, during a reading of Phèdre tragedy.
Vacquerie also made as many as 43 self-portraits. These images show a clear influence of Victor Hugo’s portraits: the poses are strikingly similar. Many of Vac- querie’s self-portraits are grouped along with portraits he did of his family (his mother, sister, nephew, etc.) in an album he gave them (now kept at the Bibliothèque nationale de France).
Lastly, Vacquerie developed a clear interest in still life, a genre that set him apart from the rest of the Jer- sey Atelier and the Hugos’ photographic production.
Through photographs of casual objects (like Mrs. Hugo’s purse, or her bracelet on her arm), or small compositions (including the reproduction of the Hugo’s portrait or drawing done by the writer), Vacquerie gave a puzzling image of the family. This specific type of im- ages, though, was never broadly circulated, and seemed to have stayed with the closest relatives the Hugos and Vacquerie had.
In 1854, 9 000 francs (in gold) had been spent already on the project mentioned above, without any return. No publisher could be found who was willing to issue the work. All were afraid of the cost, and of the possible censorship the volume might trigger.
Vacquerie’s and Hugo’s sons pictures were all taken in Jersey, except a very few number when they moved to Guernsey, in 1855. Then, although a lab was installed at their new place, Hauteville House, the photographic production slackened. The text Vacquerie had written to accompany the pictures in Jersey et l’Archipel de la Manche was published in 1856 and 1863, Les miettes de l’Histoire. Some of the reprints he had done later on were used by Vacquerie to illustrate his books (mainly Profils et Grimaces), in order to turn them into person- alized gifts.
Dropping photography, he concentrated on journalism and literature, both of which he had never left behind.
Auguste Vacquerie (1819–1895), schoolmate and friend of Charles Hugo. After a classical curriculum, he was first a journalist and a literary critic, for French newspapers like Le Globe, l’Époque. Very early, he was introduced into the romantic coterie and became a devoted admirer of Victor Hugo. He became part of the family when his brother Charles Vacquerie married Leopoldine Hugo, the writer elder child. After their drowning, emotional ties grew even stronger between Vacquerie and the Hugos.
He joined Hugo’s sons and friend Paul Meurice venture in publishing L’Évènement (1848) where he was more concerned in literature than politics. When, in 1851, this paper re-named l’Avènement du Peuple saw most of its staff jailed, Vacquerie took it over. Then the four of them were fined and jailed at the Conciergerie in 1851, and the Evènement was shut down under Napoleon’s dictatorial regime (along with him was jailed his female cat Grise and again she was in Jersey where Vacquerie took a famous photograph of her). Sharing Hugos’political ideas, he fled from France, and lived in Jersey, Guernsey and Brussels. Part of his work, such as Profils et Grimaces (1856) or Les miettes de l’histoire (1863), and his many letters to his friends or sister in France depicted his life in Jersey with the Hugo family,
and showed his interest in photography. Yet, this hobby actually lasted just a few years.
In 1869, he founded Le Rappel with Rochefort, Paul Meurice, Charles et François-Victor Hugo, unrelentingly fighting against Napoleon III Empire. After the Empire fell, he backed the uprising of Paris (1871), as did V. Hugo and his sons.
He also wrote poetry (L’Enfer de l’Esprit, in 1840), a comedy (Souvent Femme Varie, in 1859) and dramas (Tragaldabas in 1848, Les Funérailles de l’Honneur, in 1861).
Back in France (around 1867), he continued his ac- tivities as a journalist, writer, and was chosen (along with Paul Meurice and Ernest Lefèvre, Vacquerie’s nephew) by Victor Hugo to overlook the publication of the poet’s entire work after his death.
VALENTA, EDUARD (1857–1937)
Valenta was a professor at the Hohere Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt in Vienna from the late 1800s to 1909 where he codirected with Josef Eder, founding director and author of famously detailed The History of Photography (Geschichte der Photographie), and later succeeded him as the school’s head in 1923. The school is one of the oldest and most important with a specialty in photography and graphic arts in the world.
Valenta and Eder carried out and published in journals and annuals numerous studies of the spectra of elements and compounds, including many of the dyes important for photographic emulsions. They experimented with emulsions and published a number of photographic studies, including one of the earliest and most beautiful collections of highly detailed X-ray images (1896).
Valenta studied and published on the Lippmann pro- cess (1894–1912). Many of his Lippmann plates were held in the collection at the “Graphische.” Those were mostly in the nature of lab trials, and most were failures with poor or no color. These plates, along with 60,000 others in the Graphische’s collections, were donated to the Albertina in Vienna where they are in process of being cataloged.
VALENTINE, GEORGE D. (1852–1890)
George D. Valentine (1852–1890) was a son of the famous Scottish photographer James Valentine. He came to New Zealand in 1884 with the hope that the climate would improve his health. It seems that in the remaining years of his life, he was unable to suppress his sheer enthusiasm for photography and despite his fragile condition he committed himself to compiling an extensive series of landscape photographs. Beginning with views of Nelson where he initially settled, he then turned his attention to views of the Pink and White Ter- races and Lake Rotomahana, both pre and post erup- tion 1886–1887. Moving to Auckland he broadened his coverage by making a series based on a summer cruise in the Pacific Islands, photographing Tahiti, Tonga and the Cook Islands. In 1889 he was one of the first pho- tographers to descend into the Waitomo Caves at Otoro- hanga, an exploit which would have tested the physical endurance of a very fit person. Surprisingly none of his 12 × 10 inch views seem to have found their way back Scotland for his father1s firm to distribute. Two years after he died in Auckland, Valentine & Sons dispatched a photographer to New Zealand where he made a series which were used for tourist souvenirs and postcards. These were marked with the initials of J.V. as distinct from George Valentine1s photos who signed his prints with the initials of G.V.