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Early French Culture Physique Photography
Professor Edmond Desbonnet

 

Click to see a lager image of Apollon

Change this page into WOMEN

 

mirrordetail

Click detail of Desbonnet behind camera to see a larger image in the Google group.

At the end of the 19th. Century,
Professor Edmond Desbonnet (1867-1953) develloped his Physical Culture theory and practice. His fitness centra became popular in many European countries. Desbonnet used (stereo) photography to capture his proud, men & women, athletes.
This "
METHODE DESBONNET" was a reaction against the "Belle Epoque" decadence where people lived wealthy withouth thinking on their physical condition and health. Desbonnet stated that in addition to a healthy mind, a healthy body was equally important! Since the "Methode Desbonnet" was also expensive, before World War I, his fitness rooms were frequented by the high class of French society. After the first World War, the working class gain access to the Physical Culture movement, method & vogue.

At the hight of Desbonnet's popularity, there were more than 200 fitness centra in Europe where his method was used. Famous early body builders, e.g. Young Sandow, Apollon, Brancaccio, Nowosielsky, were adepts of the Desbonnet method and often depicted in the magazines and books he published. Through his magazines, these photographs were offered for sale, often in combination with hand held stereo viewers or the more elaborate TAXIPHOTE, produced by Jules Richard, or STEREODROME, produced by Gaumont.

 
Click See some Physical Culture on Television
 
..Jules Richard Taxiphote Cabinet

Stereodrome Gaumont ..


Hand-held Brewster type stereo viewer for glasplates
(center)

Mahogany Jules Richard stereo storage cabinet
(left)

Stereodrome, produced by Gaumont
 (right)

 

Popular Culture Physique Magazines and Books

Professor Desbonnet published five magazines on the practice of physical culture. In these publications his theories are explained and illustrated with photographs of famous athletes. Sandow, Apollon, Brancaccio, Novosielski, Lurich, Hackenschmidt, Batta, Bonnes, Cadine, Deriaz, Nordquist, Zbysko, Zonca, Gutt, Gaucher, Maspoli, Grunn, Sam Mac Vea, Rouhet, Pimentel, Le Breton, Myakie, etc.

His most popular magazines were "La Santé par les Sports" & "La Culture Physique",
See hardcover of a bound year volume, 1911.
Desbonnet wrote several books on the subject. Most known is his "
Les Rois de la Force", recently translated by David Chapman, "The kings of Strenght" David Chapman also wrote a short biography on Desbonnet and "Sandow the Magnificent" The latter books researches the live of Eugen Sandow, historically one of the most famous body builders, and the beginnings of bodybuilding.

In his "Les Rois de la Force", Desbonnet write biographies of famous bodybuilders of his time and before. "
Comment on devient Athlète" explains and illustrate his method.

 
 
 

 Post-Mortem portrait of Apollon (1862-1928)


Desbonnet used large mirrors in his Culture Physique rooms. This enables the athletes
to inspect and follow-up their physical devellopment and appeareance. Thanks to
these mirrors, it is also certain that many of the images in this collection are made
by Professor Desbonnet because he is visible in the mirror while operating his camera
& tripod during the exposure of his athletes. (See first stereo image & detail above right)

Images were no mirrors or photographer is visible but in the same style, can be described
to Desbonnet. Certainly, not all images in this collection are made by this grand father
of physical culture. Several images ar much too different. A smaller quantity of images in
the lot depicts
strong men (e.g. Apollon) & strong women (e.g. Apollina) street acts on
fairs and vaudeville events.

Two images show a post-mortem portrait of Apollon (Louis Uni 1862-1928) died 18
October 1928 in Euvreux. Appolon was a close friend of Desbonnet. in his obituary for
La Culture Physique
he lamented "
Until we meet again, dear and greatly missed Apollon...
We will sing your glory and the sadness of your unhappy fate"

On this page we will meet again Apollon, together with other famous and less famous colleagues and fellow early Body Builders. On the right we see Apollon (Louis Uni) together with Paul Pons on the cover of the "La Culture Physique", 15 februari, 1911.

The photographs on this page (including the photographs in Classic Nudes & Cabaret Women) all came frome one "Culture Physique" collection housed in a mahogany Jules Richard stereo storage cabinet, depicted above left.

Women and physical culture seems to be related with the world of the cabaret and theatre, judging women photographs in these health magazines.
See: "Les Jambes Superbes, women in the Moulin Rouge & Folies Bergère"
Several of the famous strong men were also performing in vaudeville and theatre.
In 1889, Apollon performed an "escaping prisoner" act in the Folies-Bergère.

More on the history of bodybuilding can be found on "The Todd-McClean Physical Culture Collection" Sandowmuseum.com, "The golden age of Iron Man", "Iron Game/Physical Culture History",

 

Unfortunately, today, early physical culture is often associated with the gay scene. This is a huge historical error and overshadows the historical importance of physical health history. The inspiration for the poses of athletes was often found in the Classic arts, e.g. as seen in Brancaccio, posed as Persée de Benvenuto Cellini. My pages will focus on these historical aspects, not on today's wrong interpretations.


See some Desbonnet Physical Culture (high res.) samples in my GOOGLE group:
Apollon du Belvédére, Apollon au Discobole, Gladiateur mourante, Jason, Persée de Benvenuto Cellini, Hanny Spiegelberg, Art Deco nude

 

"GYMNASTIQUE DESBONNET" BEAUTÉ SANTÉ FORCE

Even today Culture Physique Gymrooms associated with the "
METHODE DESBONNET" can be found. The photograph on the left was taken during the summer of 2005 in Brussels - Belgium.

The Signboard further announce "Pratiques une Culture Physique adaptée a votre cas".

 

 

Professor Desbonnet at work
seen in the mirror, using his stereo-camera & tripod when making a portrait of Zonca.
Click photo to enlarge
The huge mirrors are typical for Desbonnet's Culture Physique practrice. This enables  the athletes in the follow-up of their physical characteristics during excercise.
(see right image above, showing Prof. Desbonnet taking this image)





Professor
Desbonnet at work
seen in the mirror, using his stereo-camera & tripod when making a portrait of Zonca.


Chronological list of strong-acts by Apollon.





The famous Apollon 1910
(Louis Uni 1862-1928)









The famous Apollon 1910
(Louis Uni 1862-1928)








The famous Apollon 1910
(Louis Uni 1862-1928)








The famous Apollon 1910
(Louis Uni 1862-1928)









Albert Boch (1909)









Bonnes à 44 ans (1911)
See Sandow trophy above








Bonnes jetant 136 kilos
au Sporting Club, Lille









Bordonnay et Zbysko









Zbysko





Click photo to enlarge


Brancaccio
"Gladiateur Mourant"







Click photo to enlarge


Brancaccio
Posed as Persée de Benvenuto Cellini





Click photo to enlarge


Brancaccio
Posed as Apollon du Belvédére





Click photo to enlarge


Brancaccio
Posed as Jason










Brancaccio










Brancaccio










Brancaccio










Brancaccio & Otto Novosielsky





Click photo to enlarge


Cadine posed with Sandow trophy
(Mr. Olympia Trophy)





Click photo to enlarge


Maurice Deriaz
1910









Otto Nowosielsky
known as Otto Arco









Otto Nowosielsky










Otto Nowosielsky






Yves le Boulanger
A. Bach
Capelle
1910









Anonymous athletes









Sonda et Valtier










Frank Faretou










Georg Lurich









Jimmy Esson









young Sandow 1912 / Adolph Nordquest









Young Sandow 1912 / Adolph Nordquest









Wladeck Zbyszko

With thanks to David Webster

UNAUTHORISED USE OF THESE IMAGES IS PROHIBITED!
THE ONLINE PUBLICATION OF THESE IMAGES IS AN INQUIRY FOR A FUTURE PROJECT.
ALL EDMOND DESBONNET PHOTOGRAPHS ON THIS PAGE ARE COPYRIGHT PROPERTY OF RICHARD DESBONNET. OTHER IMAGES NEED IDENTIFICATION.
IMAGES WILL IMMEADIATELY BE REMOVED? UNLESS PERMISSION IS GRANTED
PLEASE CONTACT thomas@visual-media.be
http://www.culture-physique.be

Copyright: 2003 - 2004 - 2005 - 2006 - 2007 - 2008 - 2009 - 2010 - 2011 - 2012 - 2013 - 2014 - 2015 by Thomas Weynants
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he online Media Archaeology Museum version (21) Jan to Dec 2015 - All rights are protected by SOFAM.be