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
Successor: Mitkiewicz César (& Cie)
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. By March 1863 César Mitkiewicz was advertising as his successor at this address. 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 (no address); 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



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; MD revised 25.3.2021




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