British photographic history

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Archive: Chaplin at the Musee De L’Élysee

The Musée de l’Elysée is pleased to announce a major event: the arrival of the Chaplin Photographic Archive, a large collection consisting of approximately 10,000 photographs documenting the whole career of Charlie Chaplin.

“I am thrilled that the Musée de l’Elysée in Lausanne will take care of my father’s archive. My siblings and myself totally trust that the museum will preserve this heritage which is so dear to us."
Joséphine Chaplin, daughter of Charlie Chaplin 

The origin of the collection 

For each of his films, several photographers documented the filming at the request of the Chaplin Studios. These archives were owned by Charlie Chaplin, then his family. 

A significant collection
Composed of vintage prints and negatives, these archives document the whole career of Charlie Chaplin. To these documents, which were collected film by film since the late 1910s, are added more personal pictures. The exhibition Chaplin et les images shown at the Musée de l'Elysée in 2006, gave an overview of the importance of the Chaplin Photographic Archive by presenting around 350 of its photographs.

The major exhibits 
To this collection, which has a considerable aesthetic and historical significance, are added some extremely valuable photographs, including two photographs of Charlie Chaplin by Edward Steichen, taken in 1925 for Vogue, or the Keystone album, which is composed of approximately 750 photographs that document the first 35 films of Chaplin, created in 1914 for the Keystone Studios. 

The relevance of the collection
By housing such an archive, the Musée de l’Elysée enriches its collection with a unique and universal heritage. This major event, along with the donation last autumn of 144 photographs by Gilles Caron, demonstrates the attraction of the Musée de l’Elysée, and confirms its position as a centre of excellence in the conservation of photographic collections. Such a collection participates in the reputation of the museum with immediate effect: supervising both the conservation and promotion of the Chaplin Photographic Archive, the Musée de l’Elysée will launch, as early as 2012, through the creation of an Ecole du regard, an educational programme based around the work of Charlie Chaplin, as well as exhibitions and publications.

The full press release can be found here. Details of a special screening of the 1921 movie "the Kid' in the presence of the Chaplin family can be found here too.


Photo:  Courtesy Roy Export Co. Est. / Musée de l’Elysée


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