The first underwater photographs in history were taken in Vigo – CVBJ

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04/11/2021 at 06:41 PM CET

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A great discovery made in France by the 1870 Vigo historian and journalist Eduardo Rolland, who found the first underwater photographs in history, taken in the estuary of Vigo in 1870. Rolland will soon show them to the public in a large format exhibition that he is preparing with the Galicia town hall.

It’s a collection of photographs that represent the oldest portraits of the Vigo estuary, the first underwater archeology images in world history and the portrait of Hippolyte Magen’s campaign to save Rande’s galleons, the same that inspired Jules Verne to publish the novel ‘20,000 Travel Leagues submarine ‘, where he devotes a chapter to’ The Bay of Vigo ‘.

“We are faced with a few photos which are a treasure at all levels,” said Rolland after going public with his happy discovery, which took place last summer while diving into Gallica, a French digital library and one of the largest in the world, in search of information for his research on Jules Verne .

Really, the photographs appeared “by chance & rdquor; in 2020, when a French granary was emptied of a noble family and everything in it was auctioned in lots.

In one of these lots, without further identification, were these photographs, which were acquired by the French commune of Angers, in the department of Loire, where Ernest Bazin was born, engineer inventor of a bell submarine, but they were not able to analyze in their full context as they were taken in Vigo.

This Bazin Underwater Bell was a world revolution at the time and was thrown on this expedition to Vigo, and now for the first time it can be seen depicted in actual images, not in drawings or engravings that appeared in the press at the time.

Hippolyte Magen’s expedition to save Rande’s galleons. |

Paris Expo

“There is so much context in this photo, the Rouquayrol respirator they are wearing divers is the first time they are photographed, a photo taken three years before its presentation at Paris Expo & rdquor ;, explains Roland.

The author of the photographs was the painter and photography pioneer Henri Durand-Brager, hired for the 1870 galleon Rande rescue expedition.

In them you can see the divers in action, images of the wrecks of Rande’s galleons, the protagonists of the campaign or the ship ‘Le Vigo’ which was in charge of the investigations.

The true meaning of this photographic treasure is obtained by comparing these photos with the memories of Hippolyte Magen’s expedition, during which technical advances such as electric lamps for underwater lighting, or the new Rouquayrol respirators for the aforementioned diving, were created in Vigo. in addition to the revolutionary underwater bell, inside which several of the portraits were taken.

Until now, only the engravings in French magazines on this expedition were known., and this is the first time that we see in a photo the protagonists of this legendary campaign, such as engineer Ernest Bazin.

Rolland, after discovering these images, cataloged and described them in detail by delving into the existing documentation, which he gathered in a publication which also included the reproduction of the photographs and which could serve to initiate new historical investigations.


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