In Quai d’Orsay

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Dr. Erich Salomon was the father of candid photography–in fact, the phrase was coined for him by the London Graphic after French PM Aristide Briand’s 1930 quote that unless a ministerial meeting were documented by Salomon no one would believe it had happened. A close friend, Briand held Salomon with deepest respect; he reportedly shouted at an important conference, “Where is Dr. Salomon? We can’t start…. What’s a meeting that isn’t photographed by Salomon? People won’t believe it’s important at all!”

Above, in the French foreign ministry, Quai d’Orsay in August 1931, Salomon prepares to snap one picture of a group of five politicians standing in a circle in a corridor. Ten-time Prime Minister of France (and then Foreign Minster) Briand noticed him and exclaimed: “Voila le roi des indiscrets” (“There he is, the king of the indiscreet”) as Salomon captured the moment. When an exhibition opened at the Jeu de Pomme Museum on Salomon’s life, it was aptly titled, “Erich Salomon, Le roi des indiscrets, 1928-1938“.

From left to right, Paul Reynaud, Ministre de l’Outremer (Minister of the Colonies); Aristide Briand, Foreign Minister; Auguste Champetier de Ribes, Ministre des Pensions (Minister for Pension Funds); Edouard Herriot, Briand’s predecessor as Foreign Minister; Léon Bérard, Deputy Head of Government and Ministre de la Justice (Minister for Justice).

From Erich Salomon Archives / Berlinische Galerie, Landesmuseum für Moderne Kunst, Fotografie und Architektur.


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