Saturday, July 01, 2017

1897. Cinema anno due [13]: Revealing Lumière Vue N° 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin [Basel: A Bridge over the Rhine]. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study. / 1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.

Pont sur le Rhin. Lumière Vue N° 308. Circulation des piétons et des véhicules sur le pont. Opérateur: [Constant Girel according to Catalogue Lumière, possibly Emile Lavanchy according to Roland Cosandey]. Date: [21 septembre 1896] - [29 septembre 1896]. Lieu: Suisse, Bâle, Mittlere Rheinbrücke. Projections: Programmée le 15 novembre 1896 à Lyon (France) sous le titre Bâle. Pont sur le Rhin (Lyon républicain, 15 novembre 1896). Eléments filmiques: négatif Lumière - 2 copies Lumière. Pays: Suisse. Ville: ville-18. Lieu: pont, ville. Genre: villes et paysages. Objet: voiture hippomobile. Séries: Constant Girel en Suisse (1896).

1897. Cinema anno due [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.
1897. Year Two of Cinemathography [13]: Revealing Lumière 308 Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin [Basel: A Bridge over the Rhine]. A video lecture by Hansmartin Sigrist on an Interdisciplinary Study.

Video presentazione di Hansmartin Siegrist (Università di Basilea).
Il Cinema Ritrovato, Bologna.
Sala Mastroianni, 1 July 2017

Hansmartin Sigrist (Il Cinema Ritrovato): "Lumière 308 – Bâle: Pont sur le Rhin provides a glimpse of Basel at its fin-de-siècle apogee. The film had not met with great scholarly interest for a long time until we managed to involve some fifty archives and institutions in a comprehensive study. After three years of focussing on these forty-seven seconds of footage, intensive research has led to a multitude of surprising new results – beyond the exact dating of the film and the reconstruction of the circumstances of Henri Lavanchy-Clarke’s production.

The discovery of new documents illuminates this flamboyant organiser’s privileged position within Lumière’s first distribution system for their Cinématographe. Our renewed examination of Lavanchy’s earliest Swiss films (produced in association with the 1896 Geneva National Exhibition) led to the identification of illustrious members of his artistic, philanthropic, industrial and missionary networks. It also helped to put his 1897 films into a new context, correcting some errors."

"Most of all, Lumière 308 has turned out to be a missing link between Lyon and Basel as sister cities in the silk-dyeing industry: The film is carefully staged by a prominent local silk dyer – as a dynastic parade combined with his guild’s folkloristic procession. At the same time, it appears as a re-enactment of a huge patriotic pageant which had enthralled Basel four years earlier."

"Last but not least: It is more than likely that Abbé Joye, this earliest amateur collector of films (which he used as a tool for proselytizing a staunchly protestant city), makes a prominent appearance in this clip."
Hansmartin Siegrist (Il Cinema Ritrovato)

Pont sur le Rhin / [A Bridge Over the Rhine]. Director: Constant Girel. Year: 1896. Country: Svizzera. 308.

AA: A fascinating case study and close reading of a single Lumière view of 47 seconds.

The Old Mittlere Rheinbrücke in Basel was built in the 13th century and stood there until 1903 when the current bridge was built. There are many visual representations of the famous bridge, and this film has a place of honour among them. Hansmartin Sigrist praised it as an exemplary case of how to film a bridge: by placing the focus on the people.

Swiss research has established Henri Lavanchy-Clarke as the producer of the Swiss Lumière views. Lavanchy-Clarke was also a pioneer of product placement in the movies, including in this view. In his detective project Sigrist has managed to identify the people in the film and discovered that there is nothing accidental in the movie. Amazingly, we probably see an appearance of Abbé Joye.

An excellent and exemplary bonus presentation.


Lavanchy [-Clarke], François-Henri

Naissance 4.1.1848 à Morges,décès 11.5.1922 à Cannes, cath., de Lutry et Villette (Lavaux). Fils de Jean-François-Emile, vigneron, et de Suzanne Louise Maison. ∞ 1879 Jenny Elisabeth Clarke, Anglaise, fille de Guillaume. Infirmier de la Croix-Rouge suisse durant la guerre franco-allemande de 1870-1871. Après un séjour en Egypte au début des années 1870, L. s'engagea, sur le plan international, en faveur des aveugles, fonda une école professionnelle à Paris en 1881 et soutint l'ouverture d'un atelier pour aveugles à Lausanne en 1892. Agent général à Lausanne des fabricants anglais de savon Lever Brothers Ltd. (1889-1898), il fut le premier directeur de la fabrique de savon Helvetia à Olten (1898-1899). Concessionnaire de la maison Lumière, L. organisa les premières projections cinématographiques de Suisse lors de l'Exposition nationale de Genève en 1896.

– R. Cosandey, J.-M. Pastor, «Lavanchy-Clarke: Sunlight & Lumière, ou les débuts du cinématographe en Suisse», in Histoire(s) de cinéma(s), 1992, 9-27

Auteur(e): Michael Gautier / ABI

Historisches Lexicon der Schweitz

Roland Cosandey: Francois-Henri Lavanchy Clarke. Swiss businessman

From 1889 Lavanchy-Clarke was the representative in Switzerland of the English firm of Lever Brothers, manufacturers of Sunlight soap. He had to face the competition of Marseilles soap and to combat custom duty, which was heavier on individually wrapped pieces of soap (an English innovation) than on soap imported in bulk. The boldness of his publicity campaigns impressed his employers, pioneers in commercial advertising, and led to his interest in moving images, which he saw as a further means to promote Sunlight soap.

The Swiss national exhibition held at Geneva from 1 May to 18 October 1896 was confined to native products. Lavanchy-Clarke therefore had the idea of building on a site next to the exhibition a vast Japanese pavilion called Le Palais des Fées. Despite the limitations imposed on publicity, the public readily associated it with Sunlight soap.

Among the attractions offered to sightseers, the Cinématographe Lumière had a prominent place. 70,000 spectators attended his film show during the six months of the exhibition, and it attracted considerable press attention. He then organised further screenings throughout the country, always linked to advertising (entry to the show cost less to the housewives with a coupon cut from the Sunlight Almanac).

Almost all the Swiss subjects in the Lumière catalogue were filmed under Lavanchy-Clarke's direction and date from 1896-1897. Some specifically advertise Sunlight by 'product placement' (Laveuses, Défilé de 8éme Bataillon) or Le Palais des Fées (Cortège arabe, Danse Egyptienne). Many show the Swiss Village which was the principal attraction of the Geneva exhibition of 1896.

The traditional attribution of the 'Swiss' views in the Lumière Catalogue to Alexandre Promio is not confirmed by any formal proof and the date of the films makes it implausible. The frequency with which Lavanchy-Clarke appears in the films suggests that he was the producer, not the the cameraman, the latter function possibly being performed by his younger brother Emile Lavanchy (1857-1923).

It appears that Lavanchy-Clarke, the owner of one Cinématographe and possibly a second, was never subject to the three-party contract which in other cases in 1897 bound concessionary, the Lumière factories and the operator, and which established a permanent control of receipts and performances.

We do not know the reason for this independence, nor why Lavanchy-Clarke was involved as an intermediary in the negotiations which led to the contract on 26 March 1896 with Ludwig Stollwerck, a Cologne sweet manufacturer, for the exploitation of the Cinématographe in the German Empire.

Stollwerk's company represented the Edison Kinetoscope and had since 1895 supported the researches of the Englishman Birt Acres before negotiating indirectly with the Lyons firm.

Georges Demenÿ may provide the key. Lavanchy-Clarke, who in 1889 founded a company for the exploitation of coin-in-the-slot machines, had shown an interest in research into moving images well before the Cinématographe. With his stepfather, William Gibbs Clarke, he was one of the four founders of the Société Française du Phonoscope (1892-1895) which aimed to develop the work being carried out by Georges Demenÿ. Lavanchy-Clarke himself appears on a Phonoscope plate dating from 1893 or 1894 (he is sitting in a chair polishing one of his shoes).

The two other founders of the company were Demenÿ and Ludwig Stollwerck. The German industrialist had had ties with William Hesketh Lever (1851-1925), probably since the end of the 1880s. This connection allows us to situate if not explain the involvement of Lavanchy-Clarke in the network which, in this connection, also extended to England. It was probably Lavanchy-Clarke who took a Cinématographe to Port Sunlight (the model factory village built by Lever on the River Mersey near Liverpool), and he was one of the cameramen who filmed Queen Victoria's Diamond Jubilee celebrations in London in June 1897.

Lavanchy-Clarke did not play a decisive role in the expanding Lumière English production, but he was certainly influential in his employers' large-scale use of Cinématographe shows for advertising. Twice at least, from November 1897 and February 1898, the soap industry and the dairy product industry, Lever Brothers and Nestlé, co-operated in intensive campaigns, using on the first occasion films of the Jubilee and on the second a cricket Test match between England and Australia, taken by Henry Walter Barnett in Sydney in December 1897.

In the publicity the 'famous Lumière Cinematograph' was explicitly mentioned as a supplementary attraction and a guarantee of quality. In 1899, a year after the opening of the Helvetia soap factory, producing Sunlight soap made under licence, Lavanchy-Clarke retired from the firm and apparently gave up his cinematographic equipment.

A strange character, whose missionary calling found an outlet in philanthropic work for the blind, he was more an impresario than a businessman, a man for advertising and public relations rather than a manufacturer. His grandson placed in the Archives du Film du Centre National de la Cinématographie 200 original Lumière films which had remained with the family.

Roland Cosandey

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