Christina Natlacen: New Ways of Scientific Visualization: A.-L. Donnadieu’s La photographie des objets immergés
Rijksmuseum Studies in Photography, vol 5.
One of the many 19th-century scientists who proposed a new photographic method was the French Professor of Natural Science Adolphe-Louis Donnadieu (1840-1911). He wrote several books on photography and its use in science, most of which were published in the 1890s. In 1901, La photographie des objets immergés was published in Paris, a book in which he described the workings of the so-called ‘Physiographe universel’. Donnadieu had invented the device with the aim of improving the way anatomical preparations were depicted. To achieve this, he photographed the preparations submerged in water. Favourable contemporary comments could not prevent Donnadieu’s method from falling into oblivion. Donnadieu himself earnestly believed in the advantages of his new method, but nowadays it is scarcely being acknowledged by recent photographic history. His books are nearly forgotten and so is their author. The method Donnadieu had been working on for so long was in the end simply overtaken by new developments in photography, such as chronophotography and X-ray photography.