Adolphe Braun (1812-1877) was a French textile designer schooled in Mulhouse and trained in Paris, where he opened his first studio in 1834. By 1842 had built a strong reputation as a talented and innovative designer, publishing a book of his designs which were based on natural forms – not only plants but also cellular forms drawn from microscope studies.
After the sudden death of his wife in 1843, he returned from Paris to Alsace, accepting a job as chief designer for Dollfus-Mieg, one of the top three French cotton printers. This business was owned by his friend Daniel Dollfus-Ausset, who was passionate about the mountains and photography and was also a patron and partner to Bisson Frêres.
In 1847 Braun branched out on his own again and his studio was soon employing 40 people. He recognised the potential of the new technology of photography as a design aid and in 1854 published a book of 300 flower photographs, which were highly praised for their artistic merit and technical skill, winning a silver medal at the 1855 Exposition Universelle in Paris.
Braun was suddenly propelled into the limelight as one of France’s top photographers and, an astute entrepreneur, he capitalised on this unexpected turn of events to diversify in that direction.
Stereoviews soon represented the bread and butter of his business and between 1858 and 1872 he published 7000 views, mainly taken by his son Gaston and Jean-Claude Marmand, who had worked for the Bissons until their bankruptcy. It is also claimed that Auguste-Rosalie Bisson latterly did some assignments for Braun. The first Braun views of the Chamonix valley probably date from 1859 and he visited again in 1860.
His company was also famous for its panoramic views, large format scenes of Alsace and photographic reproductions of art, which included a thirty-year monopoly of works in the Louvre.
Image and Enterprise – the Photographs of Adolphe Braun, Thames & Hudson, 2000, ISBN 0500542325