Claude-Marie FERRIER (1811-1889)
The first stereoviews of the Chamonix valley were probably taken in the summer of 1856. Claude-Marie Ferrier is the most renowned of the photographers who visited that summer.
Earlier photographs had been taken, notably by John Ruskin in 1849. His manservant Hobbs recorded in his diary for that year that « as I had my arms full with the Daguerrotype machinery, it was no joke I assure you, jumping from stone to stone ». Gustave Dardel also took daguerrotypes of Mont Blanc in 1849, but from the Italian side. Friedrich von Martens (1806-1885) took large format calotype views of the valley of remarkable quality in 1855.
Ferrier, a designer and artist originally from Lyon, first exhibited stereoscopic images in April 1851 at the Société Héliographique de Paris. The same year he recorded the International Exhibition in London to illustrate the official report of the Royal Commission. From 1852, he worked with Duboscq to create a series of stereoviews of Paris, compatible with the Brewster viewer that Duboscq was commercialising.
In 1854, Ferrier visited Italy and in 1855 obtained an honourable mention at the Exposition Universelle de Paris. He made several tours of Switzerland and Savoie between 1855 and 1857, taking his first shots at high altitude on 5 August 1856, when he visited the Grands Mulets and climbed to the Grand-Plateau. He published these early views on cream card, blindstamped Ferrier as below. The images also appear in glass.
In 1859, he formed an association with his son Jacques Alexandre, and Charles Soulier, creating the entreprise “Ferrier père, fils et Soulier”, which became renowned for their extensive catalogue of glass stereoviews. In 1864, the enterprise was taken over by two of their employees, Leon and Levy, although the Ferrier et Soulier names continued to be used for a while.