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Aquatic dioramas: Théophile Gautier visits the aquarium at the Jardin d’acclimatation

Abstract : The first criticism of a public aquarium in France immediately combines the new device with the technique of the diorama daguerrien. In December 1861, Théophile Gautier visited the aquarium of the zoological garden of acclimatization, a few months after its opening. He talks about his visit to the journal Le Moniteur universel and describes the show very precisely, detailing both the structure of the device and the nature of the new image that presents itself to him. An image-souvenir is formed in front of him. In his analysis and in the narration of his experience, Gautier says he is at the aquarium “as at the diorama”. If some authors solicit the model of the diorama to understand and restore the production of images from the new device formed by the aquarium, it is partly because, when the aquarium of the garden of acclimatization opens, the spectacle of Daguerre is still very important in the visual culture of the time. Based on the conjunction of the two monstration techniques, the article focuses on the idea that the aquarium marks a milestone in the history of the permanence of the Daguerrian diorama among the spectacular forms of exhibition.
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Submitted on : Wednesday, November 20, 2019 - 2:11:31 PM
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Guillaume Le Gall. Aquatic dioramas: Théophile Gautier visits the aquarium at the Jardin d’acclimatation. Culture et Musées, Actes Sud, 2018, pp.81-106. ⟨10.4000/culturemusees.2370⟩. ⟨hal-02372445⟩

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