Auguste Bruno Braquehais (January 28, 1823 – February 13, 1875) was a French photographer active primarily in Paris in the mid-19th century. His photographic work documenting the 1871 Paris Commune is considered an important early example of photojournalism. While largely forgotten after his death, his work was rediscovered during preparations for the Commune’s centennial in 1971, and his photographs have since been the exhibited at numerous museums, including the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire, the Musée d’Orsay, and the Carnavalet Museum.
Braquehais’s early photographs consist primarily of portraits and female nudes, many of which were colored by his wife, Laure. Art critics have pointed out that many of Braquehais’s photographs of female nudes are cluttered with distracting objects (e.g., the Venus de Milo), giving the model the appearance of being isolated. Notable portraits by Braquehais include composer Ludwig Minkus and choreographer Arthur Saint-Léon.
Braquehais’s 109 photographs of the Paris Commune document the Commune at its height and after its fall. His photographs documenting the toppling of the Vendôme Column include scenes of the Column before its fall, a scene showing workers with ropes tied to the column ready to pull it down, and a photograph of Communards posing next to the toppled statue of Napoleon that had graced the top of the column. Braquehais also took numerous photographs of the various barricades the Communards had erected in anticipation of an invasion of republican forces, troops gathered at Tuileries Palace and Porte Maillot, and the ruins of the Maison Thiers.
Braquehais’s photographs have been exhibited by the Musée d’Orsay, the Musée d’Art et d’Histoire at St. Denis, the Carnavalet Museum, and the Budapest Museum, and are included in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Bibliothèque Nationale, and the Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris.
Selected photographs by Bruno Braquehais