Photographer, Visual Artist
1802 – 1875
Who was Félix-Jacques Moulin?
In 1849, Moulin opened a photographer's shop at 31 bis rue du Faubourg Montmartre and started producing daguerreotypes of young girls aged 14 to 16. In 1851, Moulin's work was confiscated, and he was sentenced to one month of imprisonment for the "obscene" character of his works, "so obscene that even to pronounce the titles would be to commit an indecency" according to the court archives.
After his release, Moulin continued his activities more discreetly. He taught photography, sold equipment, and had a backdoor made to his shop to dodge further legal problems. His works gained esteem from critics.
In 1856, Moulin made a photographic trip to Algeria, with over one tonne of equipment, and backed by the government which gave him access to the facilities of the colonial authorities. There, he met technical difficulties due to variations in humidity, work in the open, and the quality of water, but managed nonetheless to extensively document the French colonies in Northern Africa. He came back in 1858 with hundreds of photographs of landscapes, cities, archeologic surveys and portraits of inhabitants, and published 300 of them as L'Algérie photographiée, a three-volume in folio work. These documents became official brochures of the colonial rule of Napoléon III, to whom the work was dedicated. They toured Europe in several expositions.
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