Catalogue Raisonné of Carlos Relvas's stereoscopic photography
Produced by the CICANT research center at Universidade Lusófona.
June 18 will see the launch of the catalogue raisonné of the stereoscopic photography produced by Carlos Relvas (1838-1894), the most renowned and award-winning Portuguese photographer of the 19th century. This project constitutes a remarkable landmark in the preservation and dissemination of the Portuguese photographic heritage, as well as a turning point in the consolidation of photography in the European provision of digital humanities. Produced by the research centre CICANT of Universidade Lusófona de Humanidades e Tecnologias, Carlos Relvas Stereo Raisonné is an online catalogue which brings together for the first time ten public and private collections of Carlos Relvas's stereoscopic photography, associating them to their respective negatives preserved by the Carlos Relvas House Studio, in Golegã, for over 150 years.
Carlos Relvas Stereo Raisonné is a pioneering project in the international history of stereoscopic photography as it combines historic research in archives, museums and private collections with digital curatorship. This enabled the aggregation of geographically scattered physical collections, associating them to their wet collodion negatives - rare and largely understudied specimens of 19th century photography. In stereoscopy these assume particular relevance as they preserve areas which, as a rule, were excluded from positives, thus enabling new dating and interpretations of the photographs. Designed to allow intuitive, multilevel search, this catalogue also presents a chronology which intertwines the path of Carlos Relvas¿s life (1838-1894) with photography-related historical facts, combining historical documentation (catalogues, press advertisements, newspaper articles, correspondence) with galleries displaying the stereoscopic images Relvas took to the exhibitions in Lisbon and Paris where he achieved recognition. These images can be viewed in 3D in anaglyphs (images for glasses with a blue and a red lens) and GIF animations.
Stereoscopy is a forgotten type of photographic image which benefits from projects such as this, which provide a new perspective on the first years of Relvas¿s photography and the role of stereoscopy in the launch of his international career. Among Carlos Relvas¿s contribution to the technical advancement and the artistic recognition of photography was his passion for stereoscopy, a technique that creates the perception of the three-dimensional nature of space, publicly presented by Charles Wheatstone in 1838, and applied to photography right from its invention. Stereoscopic photography was key in the first twelve years of Carlos Relvas's activity as amateur photographer, and it accompanied him in his first participations in national and European photography exhibitions. Although this category is one of the most representative of Carlos Relvas's photographic work on historic buildings, national landscapes and even portraits, it is also one of the least known sides of his oeuvre. Thus, his collections of positives and negatives remained unstudied until the start of the research which led to the preparation of this catalogue.
The research for it draws on two projects funded by CICANT and coordinated by Victor Flores since 2017. They have enabled the identification¿ in photography collections such as that of Casa dos Patudos in Alpiarça, and that of the Portuguese Film Museum-Cinemateca Portuguesa - of 784 different stereoscopic views by Carlos Relvas (positives and negatives), a number hitherto unknown and which is indicative of the importance of stereoscopy for this photographer from Golegã.
Carlos Relvas Stereo Raisonné will be presented by photography historian Geoffrey Batchen, from the University of Oxford, at the international conference Stereo & Immersive Media, which will take place on 18 June, at 7 pm (live streamed on Zoom).