Fierlants, Edmond



Person (Male)

Alternative name or descriptor

  • Société Royale Belge de Photographie (in rue Keyenveld and branches thereof)

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules


  • Professional


Life dates

Brussels, 1819 - Brussels, 1869


1858 * - 1858 / Bruxelles, Rue de la Science, 103 (private)
Edmond Joseph Marie, ° 20.7.1819; + 21.12.1869. Born into a well-off family, Fierlants moved to Paris in about 1853 and completed his photographic apprenticeship under Hippolyte Bayard, whom he referred to as his "authority". His research on dry albuminised-collodion plates (Taupenot process) brought him recognition. In 1854, Fierlants was the only Belgian founder member of the "Société française de photographie". In 1857, he showed his works at the exhibitions in Paris and Brussels, most notably reproductions of paintings, his future speciality. At that time he was living in Paris, Rue de Verneuil, 55. Back in Brussels on 5.3.1858, he registered as a person of private means and applied for a government grant in order to photographically reproduce the masterpieces of Flemish painting in Bruges. Following the favourable opinion of the "'Académie Royale", he began his photographic campaign.
1858 * - 1861 / Bruxelles, Boulevard de l'Observatoire, 27 (private)
At this address from 2.12.1858 until 1.2.1861. Views and monuments of Bruges (Cat. 1865, 979-997) and Memling Museum at the Sint-Jans Hospital, 1858. In 1859, a series of 31 plates was published in Paris by Victor Didron. He again received the support of the government in 1860 and executed an architectural commission in Antwerp: views and monuments of Antwerp (Cat. 1865, 529-693), 1860.
1861 */ Bruxelles, Rue des Deux Eglises, 1 (private)
At this address from 1.2.1861 until 14.5.1861.
1861 * - 1862 / Bruxelles, Rue des Epingles, 25
At this address from 14.5.1861 until 25.7.1862.
1862 * - 1869 + Bruxelles - Ixelles, Rue Keyenveld, 69<63-65> renumbered 73<68-69>
Successor: de Blochouse Alexandre
Arrived in Ixelles on 25.7.1862. In that year he founded the "Société Belge de Photographie", which received the honour of becoming "Royale" in 1863. "Friends of the arts will learn with pleasure that a firm has just been founded in Brussels, the purpose of which is to exploit a vast photographic establishment under the capable management of Mr Fierlants" (Journal de la Belgique, 5.5.1862). Fierlants received patronage and support from, amongst others, Baron Isidore de Stein d'Altenstein (1819 - 1896), heraldist and director in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Two further architectural projects were granted municipal support: views and monuments of Brussels, 1862-1864 (Cat. 1865, 789-915) and views and monuments of Louvain, 1865 (Cat. 1865, 1040-1078). A proposal to take a similar series of "Vues des Monuments" in Malines was rejected by the town council in July 1863, despite a commitment by the Interior Ministry to meet half of Fierlants’ fee.
The opening of a probably short-lived portrait studio on this site was announced for 26.7.1865. It was planned to operate "the last four days of each week from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The prices will be those of other photographers" (L'Echo du Parlement, 22.7.1865).
From 1866 to 1867, under the patronage of the state, he reproduced the work of painter Antoine Wiertz. From the end of 1867, for financial reasons, he devoted himself to portraiture at his studio in Brussels. The glass plate negatives made by the then defunct Brussels branch of Mayer & Pierson were acquired by Ed. Fierlants & Cie in 1869 for purposes of re-use. "[The portraits] will be erased in two weeks time, unless objections are made by interested parties" (L'Indépendence Belge, 25.7.1869).
During a fairly short creative period - about ten years - Fierlants became renowned for his architectural photography and developed a photographic language of his own. His views of buildings bore witness to a sensitive vision of the glories of Belgium’s urban heritage. He embodied monumentality by means of large-format views (full plate or even larger). At the same time, he established himself as a publisher, most notably by his reproductions of works of art (Flemish primitives, Wiertz, etc.), which achieved wider contemporary distribution than his views from life. The work of Fierlants expresses, with analytical concern and a certain compositional rigour, the sensitivity and preoccupation with their cultural past of the citizens of the young Belgian state in the middle of the 19th century.
1863 * - 1864 / Bruxelles, Montagne de la Cour, 54
Temporary branch, which closed in April or May 1864. Thereafter, retail outlet at Ch. Muquardt’s bookshop.
1864 * - 1865 Bruxelles, Rue Royale, 2
General retail outlet on the premises of Ch. Muquardt, print dealer.
1867 * - 1869 + Bruxelles, Montagne aux Herbes Potagères, 4
Successor: Billotte Egide-François #
Domicile as of 31.12.1867. Branch. Studio specialising in portraits but did not enjoy commercial success. Its opening was reported in the Brussels press on 1.9.1867. The studio operated above the Quillet hardware store and picture-framing business. Fierlants died there a ruined man.


1858 * - 1858 / Bruxelles, Rue de la Science, 103 (private)
1858 * - 1861 / Bruxelles, Boulevard de l'Observatoire, 27 (private)
1861 */ Bruxelles, Rue des Deux Eglises, 1 (private)
1861 * - 1862 / Bruxelles, Rue des Epingles, 25
1862 * - 1869 + Bruxelles - Ixelles, Rue Keyenveld, 69<63-65> renumbered 73<68-69>
1863 * - 1864 / Bruxelles, Montagne de la Cour, 54
1864 * - 1865 Bruxelles, Rue Royale, 2
1867 * - 1869 + Bruxelles, Montagne aux Herbes Potagères, 4


Brussels, 1857; Paris, 1857; London, 1858 (no address); Paris, 1859; Amsterdam, 1860; Brussels (Cercle artistique), 1860; Amsterdam, 1861; Brussels, 1861; Paris, 1861; London, 1862 (Representatives in London: V. Delarue, Chandos Street, and Willis & Sotheran, Strand); Paris, 1864; Dublin, 1865; Paris, 1867 (silver medal); Paris, 1869 (Representatives: Mr Legoupy, 5, Boulevard de la Madeleine in Paris; Marion Son and C°, Soho Square in London); Groningen, 1869.

Genres / subject matter



Catalogue des oeuvres publiées par la "Société royale belge de photographie" Ed. Fierlants & Cie. Ixelles, 1865, 82 pp., 1,372 items.
DESCHEPPER, Claudine. "L'influence de la découverte de la photographie sur la connaissance et la vulgarisation des oeuvres d'art au XIXe siècle." Brussels, 1969, 108 + xiii pp. (Mémoire de licence, Faculté de Philosophie et Lettres, Université Libre de Bruxelles).
SOSSON, J.-P. "Les primitifs flamands de Bruges et les premiers albums de reproduction photographique", Bulletin de l'Institut royal du patrimoine artistique, vol. 8, 1965, pp. 223-231.
JOSEPH, S.F. & SCHWILDEN, T. Edmond Fierlants (1819-1869) : photographies d'art et d'architecture. Brussels, 1988, 253 pp.

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Dates of creation/revision

SFJ revised 24.1.2017.& 26.6.2018, partly based on information supplied by Axel Vaeck, Stadsarchief Mechelen; SFJ revised 3.12.2018 & 26.2.2019 ; MCC revised 25.1.2019; SFJ revised 10.4.2019, 5.8.2019 & 12.11.2020 based on information supplied by M. Demaeght




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