Luc Sante at the New York Review of Books (with an incredible slideshow of photographs):
Charles Marville is best known for his government commission to photograph the neighborhoods of Paris slated for demolition during Baron Haussmann’s reconfiguration of the city between 1853 and 1870. In fact, that is virtually all he has been known for, a matter the authors of Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris are eager to rectify. Among the basic but previously unknown facts they have unearthed are his real name (Charles-François Bossu—which means “hunchback”) and his date of birth (1813). They have also delved into his early career as an illustrator for the popular press and his pre-commission work as a photographer. The latter includes delicate salted-paper prints that inevitably evoke Fox Talbot, inventor of the process; a great deal of urban landscape work, in Paris and elsewhere, that make it clear why he was given his commission; and a few intriguing stabs at photojournalism taken at the very threshold of photography’s ability to record crowds, such as a glimpse of the pageantry and extraordinary decorations attending the baptism of the Imperial Prince in 1856.