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#swisshistorypics In the footsteps of Louis de Boccard

It was curiosity and luck that led Lausanne photographer Nicolas Savary to the findings of Louis de Boccard, who left his home in Fribourg to explore South America in 1889. An exhibition pays tribute to the Swiss adventurer.

It was an albatross that changed the life of Louis de Boccard. The exhausted bird fell from the sky onto the boat that brought the young man to Argentina, so the myth goes. 

Born on May 8, 1866, in Fribourg, Switzerland, Louis de Boccard had emigrated like many other Swiss at the time. He arrived in Argentina in 1889 and first worked in a cheese factory in the province of Buenos Aires. After one year, thanks to his preparation of the fateful albatross, he was hired as an anatomical curator and preparator by the Argentinian La Plata Museumexternal link.

A pile of old letters and a camera

We know all this due to another coincidence. In 2010, Nicolas Savary’s father, an amateur artifacts dealer, discovered an old trunk at the house clearance of de Boccard's family, in Villars-sur-Glâne, near Fribourg. The contents – a pile of old letters, a logbook, books and photographs - had belonged to de Boccard and so began Savary’s research on a life now passed. Savary not only curated the bequeathed material but also traveled to Argentina in the footsteps of de Boccards with his camera. The exhibit shows a mix of both the men’s observations of the South American continent. 

The compilation of Nicolas Savary and de Boccard’s archive can be seen in the exhibition ‘Conquistador’ at Musée Elysée in Lausanneexternal link until May 6.

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