Paul-Émile Miot: Early Photographs of Newfoundland
04 Oct 2013 - 02 Mar 2014
Library and Archives Canada
In partnership with the National Gallery of Canada
The first known photographs made around Newfoundland andLabrador were tied to the fishing industry. From the 1500s France had an interest in this region and well into the nineteenth century its government sent research vessels to map the coastal topography of the area to monitor and maintain their fishing rights and territories. In 1857 Paul-Émile Miot, a French naval officer aboard the Ardent, captained by Georges-Charles Cloué, made photographs of the waters and land around Newfoundland and Labrador. Miot may have been the first to use photographs in the production of hydrographic maps. During subsequent trips to Newfoundland, he also made a series of portraits that would be published as woodcuts in Le Monde illustré, Harper’s Weekly and Illustration. Important both for their practical information and as political tools, Miot’s images also provide evocative glimpses of Newfoundland’s past.
Born in Trinidad in 1827, Paul-Émile Miot was educated in Ireland and then in Paris where he graduated from the Naval Academy. It is not known where he learned how to make photographs, but by 1857 he had mastered the wet-plate collodion process and could produce both salted paper prints and albumen silver prints and joined the Societé Française de photographie the following year. Miot later travelled to countries such as Chile, Peru, Senegal and Tahiti were he made images of the landscape and people. By his retirement in 1892 he had attained the rank of vice-admiral and would be named curator at the Musée de la Marine et d’Ethnologie at the Louvre in Paris in 1894. He died in Paris in 1900.