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Boissonnas (them)


The station of Cornavin (around 1858)
Borel-Boissonnas files

Family originating in Livron into Dauphine, Huguenot refugee, who obtains to the citizenship of Geneva in 1748, with Joseph, shoe-maker. His/her Jacques-Etienne son is painter of faces of watches and clock. Its Antoine-Henri great-grandson is the first of three generations of photographers. Fred and his sons Edmond-Edouard, Henri-Paul and Paul (1902-1983) will direct the workshop and the family editions until 1969. Their talent was worth with Boissonnas celebrity and fortune, even if the shutter of the editions were often a financial drain. Their cousins Charles and Jean were State Counsellors.

Antoine-Henri Boissonnas

7.11.1833 to Geneva, 20.1.1889 in Geneva. Son of Pierre Aime, engraver, gilder, enameller, and of Louise Annette Santoux, mercière. Sophie Louise Pintail, painter-enameller, girl of a captain of the guard. Engraver of medals and watchcases, it closed his company in 1864 and took again the workshop of photography Auguste Garcin. He built in 1872 a building with the quay of the Post office, whose three stages will be devoted to photography, that he gave in 1887 to his Fred son. He was one of the founder members of the Partnership of photography of Geneva. He wrote a family chronicle.

Fred Boissonnas

18.6.1858 (François Frederic) in Geneva, 17.10.1946 in Geneva. Son of Antoine-Henri. Brother of Edmond-Victor. Augusta Magnin, girl of a fuel merchant. Formed very early with photography by his/her father, Antoine-Henri Boissonnas, perfect his training in Stuttgart, then in Budapest. Very gifted photographer, it succeeds his father in 1887. Its workshop became very famous for the portraits and the scenes of kind like for the quality of pullings, in particular inks fatty, papers coal and the turns. Holder of many international prizes, B. is already a celebrity when it became one of the official photographers of the national Exposure of 1896, organized in Geneva around the Swiss Village of which it carried out very many albums. He opened branches in Rheims, Marseilles, Lyon, Paris and Saint-Pétersbourg.

As a raftered mountaineer, it photographed with talent the Swiss Alps. It went to Greece in 1903 with Daniel Baud-Bovy, with whom it carried out several books, in particular In Greece by mounts and by are worth (1910). Impassioned Philhellene, it undertook many voyages in Greece and Crete, source of many works of which the Acropolis of Athens (1914), immortal Greece (1919), In the wake of Ulysses (with Victor Bérard, 1933). He undertook also voyages in Egypt, Nubie and in the Sinai since 1920, publishing in 1932 Egypt. He published in all about fifty books and created into 1919 the Boissonnas Editions, which ruined it. Those were taken again in 1920 at the same time as the workshop by his/her Edmond-Edouard son

Edmond-Edouard Boissonnas

29.4.1891 to Geneva, 26.1.1924 in Geneva. Son of Fred Boissonnas. Formed very early by his father with whom he undertook voyages in Greece, Tunisia and Germany, He began again in 1920 the paternal workshop of photography and the family editions. He travelled to Asia Mineure and North Africa and published between 1920 and 1921 Smyrna and modern Athens. He opened, always in 1920, a branch with the Wilson palate, thus making sure the broad customers of the very recent League of Nations. With his death, his/her Henri-Paul brother succeeded to him the workshop.

Henri-Paul Boissonnas

24.6.1894 to Geneva, 6.8.1966 in Zurich. Son of Fred Boissonnas and brother of Edmond-Edouard. Valentine Baud-Bovy, girl of Daniel Baud-Bovy, who will assist it in his work. School of the fine arts in Geneva. Voyages in Greece and Minor Asia (1919, 1921), in Romania (1930-1931). B. directs the family company of photography of 1924 to 1927 (recovery then by his/her Paul brother). Restorer of art in Geneva then, since 1934, in Zurich, painter, painter in watercolours and illustrator. Of a great conscientiousness, it is one of the first to document its restorations and to apply scientific methods (X-rays and UV). He works for the museums of Geneva, Bern and Zurich and is illustrated by its restorations of many Holbein, several frescos and Romance ceiling of the church of Zillis (1939-1941).

(Written by Lucien Boissonnas)


Funds of files of the Boissonnas Collection: Gad Borel, Geneva

- Boissonnas, Nicolas Herdsman, 1983
- Photography in Switzerland, 1992.311 (Al. 1992)
- The Hellenic countryside of 1922 in Anatolia seen by Henri Boissonnas, cat. exhibition. Athens, 2002

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