Jean-Baptiste Tournassoud
Photographer (1866 - 1951)
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Portraits and Family Life

Throughout his career, Tournassoud made many portraits of his friends which included artists, politicians, and military personalities as well as many portraits taken within the intimacy of the family. While always posed, his portraits are not static; one can feel the flow of sympathy that exists between the subject and the photographer. Thanks to his friendly and cordial demeanor, Tournassoud knew how to gain the trust of his subjects, who, in turn, felt confident that the photographer would make them look their best.

The black and white portraits were often "touched-up" and color was sometimes added.. One can see that Tournassoud had a unique talent for working with natural light which he could use to enhance a profile or to soften a face. Once again his prints are of a remarkable quality. If the Autochromeportraits appear more "posed", it is partly the result of the slower emulsion of autochrome plates but also because of the photographer's personal style.

The Feminine intimacy in the Family

Tournassoud's personal life revolves around the intimacy of his wife Georgette - known as "Geo", a beautiful young woman from Rustrel, a village in Provence- his daughter Juliette and later, his granddaughter Paulette (Mick Micheyl).

It is thus quite normal to find, in his files, a very large number of images, in color or in black and white, of the "women" of his life.

With an infinite patience, Geo often participated in her husband's stagings: she is photographed wearing many different outfits or performing various activities such as plucking a bird, reading a book, combing her hair, drawing water from the well, standing in a park, in a greenhouse, at the bottom of a staircase, at the edge of a pond, fishing, drawing water, with flowers, speaking to the gardener, and giving lessons to Juliette.

Born in 1902, Juliette appears in the arms of her mom, and as a model, a small girl surrounded by flowers. Dressed up, she participates with her mom in the enactment of short stories imagined by her father. With good will, both lend themselves to these small, often humorous, stagings playing their role with application. One can judge of their patience knowing that Tournassoud was used to taking several images of the same scene (but only a thorough examination can reveal that these different pictures are not from the same shot.) Therefore, it was necessary that they keep the pose long enough to give the photographer time to replace the glass plates in his camera and take the following images before the light could change!

Finally, Paulette, also much photographed, remembers her escapades with her Grandfather: as soon as she was strong enough, she would accompany him in his displacements carrying his heavy cameras. She would spend hours with him in his darkroom to see the images as they appeared in the developer bath: an ever-renewed magic.