The Friederich von Martens collection in the Photographic History Collection is composed of thirty-eight albumen photographs. Included in the collection is a set of mechanical drawings, patent information and personal correspondence related to von Martens’s panoramic camera and photographs. Many of the photographs in this collection are of Paris in the mid-1800s. There are also photographs of drawings and paintings.
Friederich von Martens was born in Germany in 1809, but spent most of his life living and working in Paris, France. Not much is known about his life before he left Germany. In Paris, von Martens was a prominent and respected photographer. He photographed both seascapes and city scenes. He also traveled to many other cities such as Frankfurt, Lausanne, Le Havre, Rouen, Stuttgart, Trieste and Venice. He exhibited his work in Paris at the Salon from 1834 to 1848. In 1845, von Martens invented the first panoramic camera, called the Megaskop-Kamera. The camera featured a swing lens, operated by a handle and gears. The first model used 4.7" x 15" curved daguerreotype plates that had a 150 degree arc. A later model used wet plate curved glass emulsions. The curved plate design made development of the plates difficult, however von Martens managed to produce many high quality panoramas. In 1851 he had a chance to exhibit a number of albumen prints of architectural views at the Great Exhibition in London, for which he was awarded the Council Medal. In the 1850s von Martens decided to try taking panoramic photographs using talbotypes instead of daguerreotypes. He tried his new idea while photographing the Alps. One of these photographs, taken of Mont Blanc, in 14 parts, was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle in Paris in 1855. Von Martens died in 1875.