The first phase of Stahl's career took place in Pernambuco where he arrived in 1854 at the age of 26. His training is still unknown, but it is certain that he arrived with a solid experience in photography. He settled in Recife where he created and developed the pioneering studio in this regional capital over the next six years. His portraits were certainly successful there, as he brought colorists from Europe, such as Germano Wahnschaffe, who later became his partner in Rio de Janeiro.
In 1859, the visit of the imperial family to Pernambuco gave Stahl the opportunity to make a remarkable report on the arrival of the sovereigns and their daughters. Pedro II, who had just admired the Paulo Afonso waterfalls north of Bahia, expressed regret that they had never been photographed and suggested that Stahl take care of it. This great project occupied the Alsatian photographer throughout the year 1860 and marked the beginning of his Carioca period.
Settled as a portraitist in the capital of the empire, Stahl quickly realized that he could supplement his income with the sale of views of Rio and its surroundings. Already a master in the art of landscape painting in Pernambuco, he was certainly stimulated by the extraordinary beauty of the site of Rio de Janeiro. Today we know about sixty of these landscape photographs as well as three panoramas.
His so-called "ethnographic" photographs deserve attention. Stahl, like many of his colleagues, took a number of them to meet the expectations of foreign visitors. Others were taken in 1865 at the request of Louis Agassiz, a famous Swiss naturalist living in the United States, as the basis for the illustrations in the book on his trip to Brazil that he published in 1869.
It was probably around this time (1865) that Stahl fell ill with the disease that took his life twelve years later, the progression of which certainly determined his hasty departure for Europe in 1870. Suffering from syphilis, everything suggests that he knew he was doomed when he left Brazil. He liquidated his company and gave his glass negatives, probably free of charge, to a young French photographer with whom he must have sympathized and whose future talent he foresaw. It was Marc Ferrez jr, the most brilliant photographer of Brazil in the 19th century. (adapted from Bia et Pedro Corréa do Lago Brésil les premiers photographes d'un empire sous les tropiques Gallimard, 2005).
Auguste (Augusto) Stahl, Rua Princesa Dona Januaria, Petropolis, ca. 1862, albumen print, 20x25 cm, strong contrast
Interesting to compare with the example in the collection of instituto Moreira Salles (access to the site)
Marc Ferrez jr, A valle do Andarahy visto de cima das alternas da Boa Vista, ca 1865, albumen print, 25x36 cm
Marc Ferrez went back a few years later to make a view quite similar but with even more distance and depth that opens the famous album of the Imperial Geological Commission of 1875 (Getty Museum collection, access to description)
Marc Ferrez jr, Caracol Waterfall, ca 1865, 36x25,5 cm
Those prints have bee preserved in the climate of Alsace since the 19th centuray and they all kept a strong contrast.
The Brazilian prints will be presented at the Fiera di Senigallia
Pescheria, Forto Annonario, Senigallia, Friday 19 and Saturday 20 May 2023
Info and inscription to the fair : [email protected]