“The Boxed” – Story in Three Chapters

Jaques Louis David · Alphonse Giroux · Louis Daguerre

A leather box with gilt stamping and royal purple velvet interior… beautiful example of the French Aesthetic style! The creator’s signature opens a door to explore a wonderful story. Our expert guest Rabah El A’awar (artist, art researcher, and art writer) and Cabinet of Curiosity are proud to present a research about Maison Giroux, whose success is inseparable from the development of new industrial art.

François-Simon-Alphonse Giroux was known as "the merchant of the princes". He became an important Parisian manufacturer of luxury furniture and accessories. His works were supplied to the Crown, the aristocracy, and the bourgeoisie.

He opened his first shop in 1799 at No. 7, Rue du Coq-Saint-Honoré, which later became Boulevard des Capucines. The business created by Giroux-father frequently changed its description in the directory: paper and creative materials, and he also restored paintings and sold different objects such as writing desks, inkwells, and toys.

Famous ébéniste (or cabinet maker), Giroux was also a creator and distributor of some fascinating curiosities: the phénakistiscope – an animation device, presented by Alphonse Giroux & Cie in 1833, and, of course… the Daguerreotype camera!

Maison Giroux Curiosities
  • text-align: center;Phenakistoscope/phenakistiscope Optical Toy Original, Giroux 1840, 12 Discs, in a box. Image source: WorthPoint.com
  • Daguerreotype Camera, Used by William Henry Fox Talbot. Louis Daguerre (Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre) [inventor] – Maison Alphonse Giroux et Cie [manufacturer] Paris, 1839.
  • [Legal Building, Paris, France] – Albumen Silver Print. Attributed to Maison Alphonse Giroux et Cie Paris, circa 1860. Image source: Courtesy of the Getty Museum

François-Simon-Alphonse Giroux turned the company into one of the most exclusive and prominent merchants in Paris at the time, and only his personal commissions were permitted to wear his signature. In 1839, Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), and Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (1865-1833) – photography pioneers and partners, awarded him the right to use the method of photography, so the very first daguerreotypes, forerunners of cameras, photo papers and glass plates were branded “Alphonse Giroux”.

The story, of course, would not be complete without mentioning Francois-Simon-Alphonse Giroux's art teacher. The famous artist Jacques-Louis David (1748-1825), who influenced Giroux’s style, and which can be seen in the artisan’s decorative objects.

  • Jacques Louis David, Painter (1748-1825) – by Marie-Eleonore Godefroid, France, 1843.
  • “Napoléon Crossing the Alps” Also listed as ‘The First Consul Crossing the Alps at the Grand Saint-Bernard Pass’. By Jacques-Louis David France, 1800. Image source: Courtesy of the RMN-Grand Palais (Réunion des Musées Nationaux-Grand Palais), the Palace of Versailles.
  • Portrait of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, by Charles Richard Meade (American, 1826 - 1858), Frnace, 1848. Image source: Courtesy of the Getty Museum
  • View from the Window at Le Gras (Viewpoint at Saint-Loup de Varennes) – Nicephore Niepce (Joseph Nicephore Niepce) [heliographer] France, 1826 & Helmut Gersheim [restorer], c. 1952. Image source: Courtesy of the Harry Ransom Center.

Are you curious how the world of the Neoclassical Art met the world of First Photographs? Watch our video blog and have a closer look at Giroux’s beautiful creation!

Join our future Art Talk, hosted by our dear guest Rabáh El A’awar, who will reveal the research in detail and show his photographic experiments! Our live video scheduled for 23 January 2023, at 7pm Dubai Time.

Presentation slides in high resolution are available for download here.

P.S.: We tried to use a lens made in the 19th century optical design (Thanks to @analogtheroom for providing us with a Daguerreotype Lens by Lomo) to capture the lovely Giroux box. Here are the results of our photographic experiments! Follow @rabah.elaawar and stay tuned for more artistic creations!


Giroux’s Box, Nº I
  • Rabáh El A’awar,
  • Cabinet of Curiosity, Dubai, 2022

Giroux’s Box, Nº II
  • Rabáh El A’awar,
  • Cabinet of Curiosity, Dubai, 2022

Giroux’s Box, Nº III
  • Rabáh El A’awar,
  • Cabinet of Curiosity, Dubai, 2022
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