Born in Paris on March 27, 1802, little is known about Felix-Jacques Antoine Moulin's early life or education. It is believed he had little in the way of formal artistic instruction, and likely served an apprenticeship before opening his first Parisian daguerreotype studio at 31 bis rue due Faubourg Montmartre. His earliest known works are of female nudes (many of them adolescents), which led to considerable legal troubles, which included being tried for obscenity, which resulted in a month-long prison sentence and a 100-franc fine.
After his release, Mr. Moulin kept a low profile by teaching photography and selling photographic accessories. Eventually, he reopened his studio (adding a back door to eliminate further legal complications), and while he continued photographing nudes, they were portrayed in a manner that was regarded as more socially acceptable, complete with tasteful boudoir settings and soft lighting. He collaborated with Louis-Amedee Mantee to create artificial ivory prints, English collodion plates, and steroscopes. He also purchased the printing rights to Roger Fenton's famous Crimean War daguerreotypes. By the mid-nineteenth century, Mr. Moulin's portraits were being exhibited throughout Europe, and appeared in such important French photographic journals as Bulletin de la Societie Francaise de Photographie, La Lumiere, and Revue Photographique. While never completely abandoning his trademark female nudes, his subject matter evolved to include depictions of daily life in the French countryside. In 1856, he accepted a field assignment that required him to travel to Algeria. Over the next year-and-a-half, Mr. Moulin photographed everyday people, local dignitaries, and historical ruins. He used the natural landscape as a backdrop whenever possible, taking several stereo views, but he also staged certain scenes to maximize dramatic effect. Many of these photographs were featured in La Lumiere, and in 1859, 300+ albumen prints (six albums' worth) were collectively published in volumes entitled, Algérie Photographee and Souvenirs de l'Algerie.
Mr. Moulin continued showing his works until his retirement in 1866, with his last exhibition being the second World's Fair, known in Paris as Exposition Universelle, in 1867. He died in his beloved Paris on December 12, 1875 at the age of 73. His Algerian works continue to be exhibited internationally, and his most famous print, "Two Standing Female Nudes," currently resides in New York's Metropolitan Museum of Art.
2007 Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography, Vol. I (New York: Routledge/Taylor & Francis Group LLC), pp. 945-946.
2016 Felix-Jacques Moulin: The Patrick Montgomery Collection (URL: https://www.flickr.com/photos/photohistorytimeline/sets/72157632291532519).
2013 A Frenchwoman's Imperial Story: Madame Luce in Nineteenth-Century Algeria by Rebecca Rogers (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press), p. 110.
2007 Modern Art and the Idea of the Mediterranean edited by Vojtěch Jirat-Wasiutyński (Toronto, Canada: University of Toronto Press), p. 23.
2016 Two Standing Female Nudes (URL: https://www.metmuseum.org/toah/works-of-art/1997.382.46).
2016 Untitled (Study of an Algerian Girl) (URL: http://www.sfmoma.org/explore/collection/artwork/27096).
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