Michiels, Jan-Frans



Person (Male)

Alternative name or descriptor

Standardized form(s) of name according to other rules


  • Professional


Life dates

Bruges, 1823 - Cologne [D], 1887


1850 ca - 1859 / Bruges
° 4.10.1823; + 21.1.1887. A wood-carver, he made the pulpit in the church of Saint-Jacques in Ypres, destroyed during the First World War. He then became a photographer and publisher. View of the Quai Vert in Bruges, one of the oldest known photographs of Bruges, published by Blanquart - Evrard (see that name) in "Album de l'artiste et de l'amateur" in 1851 is commonly attributed to Michiels. A plate in another publication by Blanquart - Evrard, a lateral view of the "Franc de Bruges" in "Variétés photographiques", nd [1854], bears Michiels' credit on the mount. Michiels lived in Eeckhoutstraat in 1847; Noordzandstraat, 38 in 1850; Beenhouwerstraat, 16 on 17.6.1852. He left some months later for Cologne [Prussia], but retained a residence in Bruges throughout the 1850s. He moved his domicile to Cologne in 1855 and was granted Prussian naturalisation the same year. The addresses listed at exhibitions vary: Brussels, 1853 and 1854: "Michiels, of Bruges"; Paris, 1855, "Cologne"; Brussels, 1856, "Bruges and Cologne".
Michiels gained a fine reputation as an architectural photographer, thanks to his close collaboration with the publisher Franz Carl Eisen (1812-1861) in Cologne during the period 1852-1857. He recorded the construction of Cologne Cathedral and published albums of the new stained-glass windows "Die neuen Glasgemälde im Dome zu Köln", 5 prints, 1853; "Album von Köln", 14 prints, 1854; "Album von Berlin, Potsdam und Sans-Souci", 60 prints, 1857.
An album of his reproductions of the shrine of Saint Ursula, "Der Reliquienschrein der heiligen Ursula zu Brügge" with eight 22 x 31 cm albumen prints, appeared under the Eisen imprint in 1854. Michiels returned to Bruges in 1857, Sint-Maartensplein, 4; in 1858, Geerolfstraat, then the same year Kuipersstraat. See entry for the partnership Michiels, [J.-F.] & Laureyns, [A.].
1859 * - 1860 / Bruxelles, Place du Trône, 2
Arrived from Bruges at an unspecified date (family's departure from Bruges recorded on 8.11.1860 but arrival not declared until 13.12.1860). "Photographic establishment. Speciality of copying works of art [...] Monuments, sculptures, art paintings, interior views, etc. Show room" (L'Echo de Bruxelles, 4.12.1859).
1861 * - 1863 ca Bruxelles, Rue Neuve, 88
Arrived on 31.12.1860. He was no longer recorded at this address in 1866. Michiels was active in Düsseldorf [D] from 1862 to 1866. He opened a studio in Victoriastrasse, 14 in September 1862. Some CVs in the 1860s mention "Düsseldorf & Brussels". After the death of his son Bruno in 1863, he settled in Germany for good. He made copies of paintings by local artists for the publisher Adolf Gestewitz in Düsseldorf; double-plate prints of these were exhibited in June 1862 in the "Malkasten" artists' association, of which Michiels was a special member, 1864-1867. He closed his Düsseldorf studio in mid 1866 and moved back to Cologne. Subsequently, Michiels was registered as an artist and painter in Cologne, Passage Königin-Augusta-Halle, where he owned a shop selling objets d’art.


1850 ca - 1859 / Bruges
1859 * - 1860 / Bruxelles, Place du Trône, 2
1861 * - 1863 ca Bruxelles, Rue Neuve, 88


Bruges, 1853 (exhibition of the association "Burger-Welzijn"); Brussels, "Association pour l'encouragement et le développement des arts industriels", 1853 (medal; sole exhibitor of photographs); Brussels, 1854 (repeat of the medal); London, 1854; Paris, 1855 (1st class medal for reproductions of Cologne Cathedral); Brussels, 1856; Amsterdam, 1860; Brussels, 1861 (sa); London, 1862 (copies of paintings).

Genres / subject matter



MICHIELS, Guillaume. Uit de Wereld der Brugse Mensen : de fotografie en het leven te Brugge 1839-1918. Bruges, 1978, pp. 22-29.
NEITE, Werner. "Der Kölner Dom als erstes Bauwerk der frühen deutschen Architekturphotographie", Jahrbuch des Zentral-Dombauvereins, Cologne, 1973, pp. 115-134.
NEITE, Werner. "Der Dom und die Fotografie" in Der Kölner Dom im Jahrhundert seiner Vollendung. Cologne, 1980, vol. 1, pp. 137-148.
RAU, Jaak A. "Fotograaf Jan Frans Michiels en zijn vakgenoten in Brugge in de 19de eeuw", Brugs Ommeland, vol. 34 no. 2, 1994, pp. 87-118.
NEITE, Werner. "Johann Franz Michiels", in Neue Deutsche Biographie. Berlin, 1994, vol. 17, pp. 455-456.
PETERS, Dorothea. "The Middle Ages as the Avant-Garde, Early Photographs for Art History", PhotoResearcher, no. 20, 2013, pp. 56-72.




Record source


Identity of institution

FotoMuseum Provincie Antwerpen


Level of detail

Dates of creation/revision

SFJ revised 29.1.2018, 4.5.2018, 5.11.2018 & 8.12.2018; SFJ revised 24.3.2020 based on information supplied by Pool Andries




Maintenance notes