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and the accounts he wrote about his explorations, together with his numerous photographs, many of which are still unpublished, made him famous. 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 Quai Branly Museum owns some 1000 old prints and 500 glass plates, which constitutes the largest collection of this photographer’s work. Charnay was a pioneer, with regard both to his inventive technique and in his sensitive approach to portraiture and landscapes.  This catalogue witnesses 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 yet characterised by a romantic imprint.


96 pages in 20 cm x 26 cm format
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

buy this catalogue online

exhibition curator

Christine Barthe, scientific director of the patrimony section of the Photographic Collections, Quai Branly Museum.


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

More information

Click here to discover the exposition.