Still life of Time, oil painting by Alle Jong of the Photografic lab of Joseph Fortune Petiot-Groffier

by admin

Every artwork i make has it’s own story. Take theĀ paintingĀ ”Still life of time, photographic lab of Joseph Fortune Petiot-Groffier, alternative title: The skin of time. 230x150cm oil on linnen 2014. This painting is made after a photograph of a room that in fact is an intact rediscovered photograpic laboratorium from 1855. This room is a still life of time itself, the door was closed until it was discovered recently a few years ago.

Tuesday, 29 May, 2007


Near Chalon-sur-Saone

The discovery of the world’s oldest photographic lab

Turning a key in a lock revealed a past hidden for 152 years: the lab of the world’s very first photographers has been rediscovered. Intact and whole.

In 1840, Joseph Fortune Petiot-Groffies opens his lab, which he uses until 1855 – the time of his death under mysterious cicumstances, most probably caused by the photo chemicals he used. As a safety measure, his heirs closed down the lab. Through the coming generations, the family inhabits all of their buildings near Chalon, with the exeption of that very room, which – altough shut – is not completely forgotten either. For the family is well aware that they have been sheltering a photographic treasure, carefully hidden away behind a protective wooden door on the second floor of their dwelling. Two years ago, the family heritage changed hands for the last time: it’s new owner discovers the treasure. It takes him two years to find out to whom he would like to entrust the lab, with the aim of preserving it entirely and as a whole. Yet, when the by now famous door eventually opens, a last world reappears: an entire intact lab, in the exact state its owner left on his death in 1855. ”It was an intriuing moment: we didn’t know where to look. There were hundreds of bottles still containing chemicals, hundreds of books, tools and objects everywhere, among the several camera’s allowing to make images according to the two first photographical processes, the Daguerrotype and the Collodion.

C. Saulnier