Yucatan is elsewhere

Yucatan is elsewhere

Désiré Charnay (1828-1915) was an archaeologist, a writer and a photographer and one of the greatest French explorers of the 19th century. He was fascinated by Mexico and became famous through the accounts he wrote about his explorations, and his numerous photographs, many of which are still unpublished. However, fame is a fickle mistress and soon forgets those she has favoured. The Bibliothèque nationale de France recently put on an exhibition of a few of his photographs. The musée du quai Branly owns some 1000 old prints and 500 glass plates, which constitutes the largest collection of this photographer’s work. Charnay was a pioneer, both in terms of his inventive technique and in his sensitive approach to portraiture and landscapes. This catalogue bears witness to this and takes art lovers on an exceptional journey, from Yucatan to Java, and then on to Australia, passing via Madagascar. As one of the authors represented in this work, Pascal Mongne emphasises, Charnay was a ‘very colourful person’ with a complex personality, whose work, which has considerable scientific merit, is characterised by a hint of romanticism.


96 pages, 20 cm x 26 cm
80 illustrations
price : 15 €
ISBN  978-2-915133-46-2 / 978-2-742765-27-0

Co-publication by the musée du quai Branly/Actes Sud

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exhibition curator

Christine Barthe, scientific director of the patrimony section of the Photographic Collections, musée du quai Branly.


François Brunet, professor of United States art and literature, Université de Paris 7 Denis-Diderot
Sabrina Esmeralda, curator and restorer of photographs
Pascal Mongne, art historian and archaeologist of the Americas, Ecole du Louvre, Paris

More information

Click here to discover the exhibition