Bring back some good or bad memories


January 21, 2021

Transport of the Torso of the Bavaria Statue, Munich, 1850

Alois Locherer (August 14, 1815 – July 15, 1862) was the leading photographer of the erstwhile Kingdom of Bavaria in Germany. His documentation of the making of this statue marked the very beginning of event photography in the country. This image is an early example of photoreportage and is additionally noted for its surrealistic effects.

The Bavaria in creation, a statue in the german town Munich, 1850.

In this image, Locherer photographed a group of 14 men gathered around the torso of Bavaria, all of whom believed to be artists, engineers and draftsmen. The sculpture of Bavaria was designed by Ludwig Schwanthaler. Interestingly, the composition of the photograph was apparently inspired by Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, which was published in 1726, and became widely readable in German popular culture in the 1850s.

While Locherer extensively photographed the making of the statute, only five motifs have been found from his Bavaria series. In fact, this particular photograph is more than 150 years old. Additionally, it is the only one out of the five images to be dated with certainty. It was made on 7 August 1850. It survives, despite having faded considerably over time.

Alois Locherer, self-portrait, ca. 1850.

For many, it serves as a reminder of a bygone era of German history. While, for others, Locherer’s intact visual document marks the start of photojournalism and documentary photography. Alois Locherer is today celebrated as the most important Germany calotypist.


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