17 February 2021

Ferrier & Soulier Glass Stereoviews

Category: Stereoviews   Tags: Duboscq / Ferrier & Soulier
Ferrier & Soulier Glass Stereoviews - Black & White Photography and Stereoscopy Blog

The glass stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier were of a high technical and artistic level. They were very popular in the 1850s and 1860s and were admired as the finest produced.

Ferrier & Soulier

Claude-Marie Ferrier worked as a photographer for Jules Duboscq and created his first stereo daguerreotypes of sculptures. These could be viewed with the new stereoscopes that were produced by Duboscq from 1850. A year later, Duboscq was introduced to the glass magic Lantern slides of the American Langenheim brothers at the Great Exhibition in London and he came up with the idea of ​​producing glass stereoviews. Ferrier starts creatinging glass stereoviews for Duboscq and from c.1854 he continues as an independent photographer.

He travels through Europe and photographs famous buildings and monuments of its major cities. He also produces paper stereocards but his main focus is on glass stereoviews. They provide an impressive viewing experience and the quality of Ferrier's images is very high.

He forms together with his son and Charles Soulier the company Ferrier, fils et Soulier in 1859. Charles Soulier had previously partnered with Athanse Clouzard and they were also known for their high quality glass stereoviews. Soulier adds a large number of negatives to the portfolio of the new company.

Ferrier & Soulier - 4349 - Vue du pont de Prague et de la Kleinse
4349 - Vue du pont de Prague et de la Kleinse
This negative came from the portfolio of Clouzard & Soulier

Ferrier & Soulier also buys negatives from other photographers. Photos of Egypt and Nubia were made by the English photographer Francis Frith and images of Moscow and St. Petersburg were photographed by Jules Couppier. It results in a large catalog of fine stereoviews and their slides are very popular well into the 1860s.

In 1864, the company is continued by two of its employees, Moisé Léon and Isaac Georges Lévy, as Léon & J. Lévy. Throught the years, the company will operate under different owners and names. However, the popularity of the large and exclusive glass stereoviews slowly declined.

The stereoviews

The stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier were made by using the albumen-on-glass process. This photographic process was invented in 1847 by Claude Félix Abel Niépce de Saint-Victor. The advantage of this process was that the negatives could be prepared in advance and remained usuable for a long time, in contrast to the wet collodion process in which negatives had to be prepared just before shooting and developed immediately afterwards. A disadvantage of albumen negatives was that it was a complex process that was mastered by only a few and the exposure times were quit long. That's why the images of Ferrier & Soulier rarely show people, to prevent ghosting.

Ferrier & Soulier - 462 - Pont des Soupirs (no 2) à Venice
462 - Pont des Soupirs (no 2) à Venice

The glass slides had a size of 8,5 x 17cm. The first slides consisted of three glass layers. The slide with the developed emulsion was covered with a cover glass and at the bottom was a second slide, which was often a frosted glass (verre dépoli) to diffuse the light.

Later stereoviews consisted of two layers and had only a frosted glass on the bottom. This resulted in thinner slides that were easier and cheaper to produce. The stereoviews were presented in different styles. Some were decorated with a black passepartout and gold fillets (verre églomisé), others had a more basic presentation style.

The early views contained inventory numbers and titles that were printed on the binding tape. Later, this information was printed on thin, transparent sheets which were attached to a cleaned area on the emulsion side of the glass stereoview beneath the image.

Ferrier & Soulier - 553 bis - Galerie de Bracio nuovo (Vatican) (no 2)
576 - Forum de Trajan Rome
Double window with two gold fillets
553 bis - Galerie de Bracio nuovo (Vatican) (no 2)
Single window with two gold fillets

To learn more about the stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier, I highly recommend the book The Glass Stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier 1852-1908 by Janice Schimmelman and John Cameron.


  • The Glass Stereoviews of Ferrier & Soulier 1852-1908, J. Schimmelman and J. Cameron