France in the frame at Diemar/Noble's new show

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The Independent Culture

A collection of rare French vintage photographs, celebrating the first 100 years of photography in France, will go on show in London next week at Diemar/Noble Photography.

They include a tableau taken by Lipnitzki on the set of director Abel Gance's epic silent film Napoleon in 1926 – signed by the director himself. Gance is on the right of the photograph in the role of Saint-Just, along with the actors playing Robespierre and Couthon with his pet rabbit, in the picture that once belonged to Gance's secretary.

Amateur snapshots of the prisoner Captain Dreyfus on board the ship Sfax, in June 1899, show him returning to France for a re-trial, direct from Devil's Island, where he had been imprisoned for high treason. He can be seen taking strolls on the deck and sleeping in his quarters.

There is a portrait of a glum-looking Emile Zola by Disdéri, circa 1875. Zola's letter "J'Accuse...!" in the newspaper L'Aurore helped to prove that Dreyfus was innocent.

The earliest picture is a staged daguerreotype The Hunters, taken in the early 1840s by an unknown photographer.

The exhibition features art photography, portraiture, still-life, reportage, social documentary, scientific photography, even early pornography. All the photographs are for sale from £12 to £200,000.

Henri Toulouse-Lautrec defecating on the beach at Le Crotoy, Picardie, in 1898, was taken by the art dealer Maurice Joyant; Rose Zehner and female workers are snapped during the strike at Citroë* in 1938; a blue-toned print by Jacques-Henri Lartigue, is of his and his lover and muse Renee Perle's hands.

Some Photographs Taken in France, Diemar/Noble Photography, London W1 (020 7636 5375) 12 May to 16 July

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