Signed and titled "h. Le Secq. / Chartres." in the negative.
The Cathedral of Notre Dame at Chartres is one of the finest examples of French High Gothic and a milestone in the development of Western architecture. In mid-19th century France, Gothic art was a source of national pride. At that time, the French government embarked upon a systematic investigation and restoration of the nation's historic monuments. In 1851 the Commission des Monuments Historiques appointed Henri Le Secq as one of five photographers to document French architecture for the Missions heliographiques. The Commission was so pleased with Le Secq's photographs "reconstruct[ing] stone by stone the cathedrals of Strasbourg and Reims" that they commissioned him to work on Notre Dame of Chartres the following year. The more than forty views that Le Secq produced at Chartres in 1852 constituted a most accurate and poignant record, almost a visual translation of Victor Hugo's description of a cathedral as a book, an encyclopedia in stone. These photographs express Le Secq's personal passion for architecture and medieval art, permeated by the sensitivity of an archaeologist and resonant with the Romantic fascination for the ruin and the fragment.
Private French collection
Another print from the same negative illustrated flipped in Eugenia Parry Janis and Josianne Sartre, Henri Le Secq: Photographe de 1850 a 1860 (Paris 1986), cat. no. 253