THE EYE OF THE SUN
September 8 through December 1, 2019
NATIONAL GALLERY OF ART
William Edward Kilburn. Queen Victoria and Children, January 19, 1852, daguerreotype with applied color. image: 7.6 x 8.7 cm (3 x 3 7/16 in.) framed: 12.8 x 15 x 0.5 cm (5 1/16 x 5 7/8 x 3/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund.
The Gallery presents a selection of 140 photographs
of 19th century pioneers of photography from its important collection,
one of the best collections in America.
The fathers of Photography
Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (November 18, 1787 – July 10, 1851), was a French artist and photographer, renowned for his invention of the daguerreotype process. In 1829, Daguerre teamed up with Nicéphore Niépce, an inventor who had produced the world’s first heliogram in 1822 and the oldest preserved camera (1826 or 1827).
Niépce died in 1833 and Daguerre continued the experiments and evolved the process that would become known as the daguerreotype. Although Daguerre is most famous for his contributions to photography, he was also an accomplished painter and a developer of diorama theatre.
in 1844 by Jean-Baptiste Sabatier-Blot.
William Henry Fox Talbot (11 February 1800 – 17 September 1877) was a scientist, inventor and pioneer of English photography who invented the processes of paper and calotype, which have been the precursors of photographic processes of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In the 1840s, his work on photomechanical reproduction led to the creation of the photogliphic engraving process, the forerunner of rotogravure. He was also an outstanding photographer.
William Henry Fox Talbot
by John Moffat,1864
Since the French invention of the daguerreotype and the rival
British photogenic drawing, the medium has undoubtedly created new ways
of seeing, experiencing, and understanding the world
The exhibition begins with the earliest examples of photography
Daguerreotypes and photogenic drawings and salted paper prints by William Henry Fox TalbotA group of four photographs by Talbot, including the recently acquired “Trees and Reflections, Lacock Abbey” (c. 1843) as well as a large selection of daguerreotypes by both French and American photographers such as Augustus Washington, one of the few known African American daguerreotypists.
William Henry Fox Talbot. Trees and Reflections, Lacock Abbey, c. 1843, salted paper print, image: 16.4 x 19.2 cm (6 7/16 x 7 9/16 in.) sheet: 20 x 24.2 cm (7 7/8 x 9 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Queen Victoria’s Anecdote
Queen Victoria and Children (1852) by William Edward Kilburn The daguerreotype is the second of two that Kilburn took of the Queen and family in the garden of Buckingham Palace in January 1852. Unhappy with her appearance in the first, she chose to pose in profile with a bonnet obscuring her face when she was photographed two days later.
William Edward Kilburn (1818-1891) was an English photographer, well known for his photographs of the British royal family. Kilburn’s photographs were appreciated by Prince Albert, who named him “Photographer of His Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Albert”.
Highlights of pioneering French photographers
Gustave Le Gray. Brig on the Water, 1856, albumen print, image/sheet: 31.5 x 40.5 cm (12 3/8 x 15 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of Diana and Mallory Walker.
Jean-Baptiste Gustave Le Gray, August 30, 1820 – July 30, 1884) was called “the most important French photographer of the nineteenth century” because of his technical innovations, his important contribution to the development of the waxed paper negative and the training of other photographers who acquired renown. He stood out for “the great imagination he brought to the creation of images”.
Gustave Le Gray. Bas-Breau, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1852, salted paper print, image: 25.3 x 37.7 cm (9 15/16 x 14 13/16 in.) sheet: 37.7 x 45.7 cm (14 13/16 x 18 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund
Guillaume-Benjamin-Amant. Duchenne (de Boulogne) Terror mixed with pain, torture, 1854-1856, albumen print, printed 1862, image: 22.1 x 15.8 cm (8 11/16 x 6 1/4 in.) mount: 40.3 x 27.6 cm (15 7/8 x 10 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Fund, in Honor of the 25th Anniversary of Photography at the National Gallery of Art
Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne, known as Duchenne de Boulogne (Boulogne-sur-Mer, 17 September 1806 – Paris, 15 September 1875), was a 19th century French physician and clinical researcher who is considered a pioneer in neurology and medical photography.
Guillaume Benjamin Amand Duchenne
Portrait by Nadar
Bibliothèque Nationale de France
Édouard-Denis Baldus. Toulon, Gare (Toulon, Train Station), 1861 or later, albumen print from collodion negative mounted on paperboard, sheet (trimmed to image): 27.4 x 43.1 cm (10 13/16 x 16 15/16 in.) support: 45.4 x 60.6 cm (17 7/8 x 23 7/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Patrons’ Permanent Fund
Édouard-Denis Baldus was born on June 5, 1813 in Grünebach, Prussia. He was originally trained as a painter and had also worked as a draughtsman and lithographer before switching to photography in 1849.
Baldus was an innovator who collaborated in overcoming the limitations of the calotype process. He often retouched his negatives to remove buildings and trees, or to put clouds in white skies. Image: Selfportrait
Édouard-Denis Baldus. Rocher de St. Michel au Puy (Rock of St. Michel in Puy), 1854, salted paper print, image: 33.8 x 44.2 cm (13 5/16 x 17 3/8 in.) sheet: 48.3 x 68.5 cm (19 x 26 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Highlights of pioneering English and American photographers
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll), Xie Kitchin, 1869, albumen print, sheet: 10.7 x 13.7 cm (4 3/16 x 5 3/8 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Gift of Mary and David Robinson.
Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (Lewis Carroll) (January 27, 1832-January 14, 1898), an English writer best known by his pseudonym Lewis Carroll, achieved world fame with his children’s stories, especially The Adventures of Alice in Wonderland. He was also an Anglican mathematician, photographer and deacon.
Cleaning the lens of his camera.
Photograph by Oscar Gustav Rejlander.
Roger Fenton. Fruit and Flowers, 1860, albumen print from collodion negative. Overall: 35.5 x 43 cm (14 x 16 15/16 in.) mount: 50.8 x 68.5 cm (20 x 26 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Paul Mellon Fund.
Roger Fenton (28 March 1819 – 8 August 1869) was a British photographer, who is considered one of the first war photographers. He became one of the leading British photographers and his contribution was decisive in founding the Royal Photographic Society.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn. A Summer’s Evening, Penllergare, August 25, 1854, albumen print, image: 28.7 x 23.8 cm (11 5/16 x 9 3/8 in.) sheet: 45.3 x 37.6 cm (17 13/16 x 14 13/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of Diana and Mallory Walker.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn (12 January 1810 – 24 August 1882) was a botanist and pioneering photographer. In 1853, he was one of those who attended the founding meeting of the Society of Arts in London, and for a number of years, he served as a founding member of the Council.
John Dillwyn Llewelyn
by Mary Dillwyn 1853
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. Prayer, 1843-1847, salted paper print from a paper negative, image: 20.9 x 16.9 cm (8 1/4 x 6 5/8 in.) mount: 37.5 x 26.6 cm (14 3/4 x 10 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Paul Mellon Fund
In 1843 David Octavius Hill joined engineer Robert Adamson to form Scotland’s first photographic studio.
David Octavius Hill (Perth, Scotland, 20 May 1802 – 17 May 1870) was a Scottish photographer and painter.
Robert Adamson (26 April 1821 – 14 January 1848) was a Scottish chemist and pioneer photographer.
Composite photograph of Hill (left)
and Adamson, both circa 1845
Andrew Joseph Russell. The Great West Illustrated in a Series of Photographic Views Across the Continent, 1869, volume of 50 albumen prints, overall (closed): 34 x 49 x 3.8 cm (13 3/8 x 19 5/16 x 1 1/2 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Avalon Fund and New Century Fund.
Andrew Joseph Russell (March 20, 1829 in Walpole, New Hampshire – September 22, 1902 in Brooklyn, New York) was a photographer of the American Civil War and the Union Pacific Railroad.
Russell established his design studio in New York and worked as a photojournalist for Frank Leslie’s illustrated newspaper until the early 1890s.
Andrew Joseph Russell. Stone Wall, Rear of Fredericksburg, with Rebel Dead, May 3, 1863, albumen print, image: 24 x 32.3 cm (9 7/16 x 12 11/16 in.) mount: 27.3 x 35.4 cm (10 3/4 x 13 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Robert B. Menschel and the Vital Projects Fund.
George Barker. Silver Springs, Florida, c. 1886, albumen print,image: 45.4 x 54.93 cm (17 7/8 x 21 5/8 in.)
mat: 63.5 x 76.2 cm (25 x 30 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Alfred H. Moses and Fern M. Schad Fund.
George Barker (July 17, 1844 – November 27, 1894) was a Canadian-American photographer best known for his photographs of Niagara Falls. When he died in 1894, people called him “the eminent photographer of Niagara Falls. Barker was among the first photographers to visit the state of Florida at a time when photography in the region was a challenge because much of the state was underdeveloped. Photographers had to carry their bulky equipment through wetlands and subtropical jungles, as well as handle delicate films in hot and humid conditions. Barker spent nearly four years (from time to time), from 1886 to 1890, documenting much of North and Central Florida.
Charles Thurston Thompson. Water Tanks Outside of Annex, Paris Exposition Universelle, 1855, salted paper print, image: 21 x 27.1 cm (8 1/4 x 10 11/16 in.) sheet: 44.4 x 55.7 cm (17 1/2 x 21 15/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of Diana and Mallory Walker.
Charles Thurston Thompson.
He was an British photographer, one of the first monument photographers, carrying out many extraordinary searches outside England on behalf of the South Kensington Museum (London).
Charles Thurston Thompson with his wife
Julia Margaret Cameron. A Minstrel Group, 1867, albumen print from wet collodion negative, image: 35.08 x 29.21 cm (13 13/16 x 11 1/2 in.) sheet: 57.15 x 46.36 cm (22 1/2 x 18 1/4 in.) mat: 71.12 x 55.88 cm (28 x 22 in.)
National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation
Julia Margaret Cameron (single Pattle; June 11, 1815 – January 26, 1879) was a British photographer well known for her portraits of celebrities and her images with legendary or heroic themes.
In 1864 she was elected to the Photographic Society of London where she exhibited her annual exhibitions until her death. In August 1865, the South Kensington Museum, now the Victoria and Albert Museum, bought 80 of her photographs and three years later offered her two rooms to use as a portrait studio, making her the museum’s first artist-in-residence.
Edward King Tenison . The Dublin Great Exhibition of 1853, 1853, salted paper print, image: 27.6 x 39.8 cm (10 7/8 x 15 11/16 in.) sheet: 35.1 x 47.4 cm (13 13/16 x 18 11/16 in.) National Gallery of Art, Washington, Purchased as a Gift of the Richard King Mellon Foundation.
Edward King Tenison (21 January 1805 – 19 June 1878) was an Irish Whig and Liberal politician and photographer. Joined the London Photographic Society in 1853 where he first exhibited his work at the Great Industrial Exhibition in Dublin. The following year, he collaborated in the foundation of the Dublin Photographic Society.
The exhibition is curated by Diane Waggoner, curator of 19th-century photographs, with Kara Fiedorek Felt, Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Curatorial Fellow, both National Gallery of Art, Washington.
director, National Gallery of Art, Washington.
“Today photography is so omnipresent in our lives that it can be hard to imagine a world without it. This exhibition takes us back to the exciting nascent years following the birth of the medium, and the many ways that early practitioners explored its possibilities,”.
“The Eye of the Sun is possible due to a series of recent strategic acquisitions of 19th-century photography, allowing us now to offer a deep view of work from this period.”
In the important collection of images that the museum has, there are other beautiful photographs of the pioneers of photography of the nineteenth century. The editors of PATRONS have selected some very significant for their interest and exceptional contribution to the aesthetics of the image.
Julia Margaret Cameron, “An Angel unwinged by your desire”, 1873
Julia Margaret Cameron, British, 1815 – 1879. “An Angel unwinged by your desire”, 1873, albumen print from collodion negative, image: 28.4 × 37.9 cm (11 3/16 × 14 15/16 in.) mount: 40.7 × 55.9 cm (16 × 22 in.) Paul Mellon Fund, 2007.29.16. Not on View.
Editors’ comments: Julia builds a portrait with the girl in an insimmised attitude that gives a strong attraction to the image. Julia chooses the nude to accentuate innocence. She distributes the graphic weights diagonally like the great classical masters of painting (all the weight on the left and practically nothing on the right, just a suggestion of possible clouds). The title is also helpful to support the meaning of the work. The image catches you and you do not get tired of looking at it again and again to decipher all its meaning. Definitely one of Julia’s great works.
Julia Margaret Cameron, “Summer Days”, 1866
Julia Margaret Cameron, British, 1815 – 1879. “Summer Days”, 1866, albumen print from a wet collodion negative, image: 35.3 x 28.2 cm (13 7/8 x 11 1/8 in.) mount: 49.1 x 40.3 cm (19 5/16 x 15 7/8 in.) Paul Mellon Fund, 2007.29.13. Not on View
Editors’ comments: Julia makes one of her most difficult compositions because it is extremely complicated to get an excellent attitude together in a group. Impeccable in the choice of summer styling, she once again demonstrates her mastery of composition by using the diagonal to compose a set with a very singular composition. The face of the girl on the right balances the whole ensemble by its strategic position and the intensity of its image. Also noteworthy is the way in which the different planes provide a three-dimensional sensation. It is possible to read the personality of each member through postures, looks, hairstyles and dresses. It is definitely one of the most interesting group psychological portraits in the collection.
Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, “James Drummond, c. 1844”
David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. Robert Adamson, Scottish, 1821 – 1848. David Octavius Hill, Scottish, 1802 – 1870. “James Drummond, c. 1844”, salted paper print from a paper negative, overall: 19.4 x 14.3 cm (7 5/8 x 5 5/8 in.) Robert B. Menschel Fund. 2002.95.1, Not on View
Editors’ comments: What is surprising about this portrait is its composition, which is more like a painting by the great masters than a photograph. What’s more, at first glance it would appear to be a reproduction of a painting. The reason is that the person portrayed is the artist painter James Drummond, who surely intervened in the design of the composition. It surprises the powerful sense of action that contrasts with the lack of any movement. Every detail is meticulously studied to give the sensation of an intellectual; the posture thinking, the book as a central element and elegantly dressed.
The composition based on the distribution of the weights on both sides of the diagonal that divides the image from left to right, is another affirmation of the great influence that the great masters of painting had in the beginnings of photography.
Henry Peach Robinson, “She Never Told her Love”, 1857
Henry Peach Robinson, British, 1830 – 1901, “She Never Told her Love”, 1857, albumen print from a wet collodion negative, image: 17.8 x 21.8 cm (7 x 8 9/16 in.) mount: 29 x 36.9 cm (11 7/16 x 14 1/2 in.) Paul Mellon Fund. 2007.29.40. Not on View.
About Henry Peach Robinson (9 July 1830, Ludlow, Shropshire – 21 February 1901, Royal Tunbridge Wells, Kent) British. He was a pictorialist photographer known for his pioneering combination of printing, in which he joined multiple negatives or prints to form a single image; an early example of photomontage. He energetically participated in contemporary debates in the photographic press and in associations about the legitimacy of ‘art photography’ and, in particular, the combination of originally separate images into a single image.
He was one of the most prominent art photographers of his time.
Editors’ comments: The most remarkable thing of this image is the handling of light and the exquisite gray ranges that the photographer achieves. He focuses on the character’s dreamy gesture and dilutes the first and second levels. It is surely an impostada attitude carried out in the studio to achieve the desired effects. In this sense, the key is the zenithal light that was obtained by letting it enter through stained-glass windows installed on the ceiling and controlled by curtains. Some important contemporary photographers have sometimes recovered this technique of using natural light as the best and subtle source. But in the 19th century, natural light was the most powerful light source available.
William Edward Kilburn, “Portrait of a Girl”, late 1840s
William Edward Kilburn, British, 1818 – 1891, “Portrait of a Girl”, late 1840s, daguerreotype with applied color, image: 9.2 × 6.2 cm (3 5/8 × 2 7/16 in.) overall (closed): 12.2 × 9.2 × 1.4 cm (4 13/16 × 3 5/8 × 9/16 in.) Pepita Milmore Memorial Fund. 2014.86.3. Not on View.
About William Edward Kilburn: was an English photographer, noted for his pictures of the British Royal family. Kilburn’s photographs of the event were appreciated by Prince Albert who appointed Kilburn “Photographist to Her Majesty and His Royal Highness Prince Albert”
Editors’ comments: The taste for color photography began very early. But there were still many years to go before the technical process that made it possible in the twentieth century was discovered, although during the nineteenth century was researched hard to achieve it. Meanwhile, coloring the black and white photos was the solution that required a great artistic experience to achieve pleasant results.
This coloured photographs by William Edward Kilbum are deliciously illuminated, and in the sky, which is created in its entirety, the hand of a highly trained artist is evident.
André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, “Monsieur Jadin and Son”, c. 1860
André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, French, 1819 – 1889, “Monsieur Jadin and Son”, c. 1860, albumen print (sheet of 8 uncut cartes-de-visite) image: 19.7 × 23.2 cm (7 3/4 × 9 1/8 in.) Robert B. Menschel and the Vital Projects Fund, 2008.59.2. Not on View.
About André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri (28 March 1819 – 4 October 1889) French. He began his photographic career as a daguerreotypist, but his greatest fame came from patenting his version of the “carte de visite”, a small photographic image mounted on a card. Disdéri, was a brilliant showman and became world famous with this system of portraits of massive production. Disdéri also invented the double lens reflex camera.
Editors’ comments: Disdéri was not only successful for his invention, but his photographs, as you can see, told stories of his clients. No wonder, then, that his invention of the “carte de visite” was so successful that it crossed the borders of France to become an international phenomenon of the time.
Carleton E. Watkins, “Cape Horn, Columbia River”, 1867
Carleton E. Watkins, American, 1829 – 1916, “Cape Horn, Columbia River”, 1867, albumen print from collodion negative mounted on paperboard, overall: 41.2 x 52.5 cm (16 1/4 x 20 11/16 in.) Gift of Mary and David Robinson, 1995.35.25. Not on View
About Carleton E. Watkins (1829-1916). Was a 19th century American photographer. He was born in New York and moved to California where he quickly became interested in photography. He focused his interest on landscape photography, the Yosemite Valley being one of his favorite subjects. His photographs of the valley significantly influenced the U.S. Congress to preserve Yosemite as a National Park.
Editors’ comments: In this image it is evident the successful encounter of the perfect angle for this landscape. The photographer selected an elevated point of view that allows to see the different planes of the beach and the lake. The sensation of serenity and grandiosity of the whole is magnificently achieved.We feel as if we are seeing the landscape from the air like a bird.
Gustave Le Gray, “Cavalry Maneuvers, Camp de Châlons”, 1857
Gustave Le Gray, French, 1820 – 1884,“Cavalry Maneuvers, Camp de Châlons”, 1857, albumen print from collodion glass negative, support: 27.5 x 33.8 cm (10 13/16 x 13 5/16 in.) Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon. 2006.131.6. Not on View.
Editors’ comments: The atmospheric effect and the use of the plane dividing the image into two fields that contrast dramatically, is a brilliant approach. The dark figures cut out over the atmosphere tell without a doubt the story of this photograph. Even if, as the title says, it is only an exercise, the pre-war environment is strongly suggested.
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, “In Puris Naturalibus (In a State of Nature)”, 1880s
Frank Meadow Sutcliffe, British, 1853 – 1941, “In Puris Naturalibus (In a State of Nature)”, 1880s, carbon print from a glass negative, image: 22.7 x 29.4 cm (8 15/16 x 11 9/16 in.) sheet: 23.2 x 29.4 cm (9 1/8 x 11 9/16 in.) Robert B. Menschel and the Vital Projects Fund. 2012.42.1. Not on View.
About Francis Meadow (Frank) Sutcliffe (6 October 1853 – 31 May 1941) British. He was a pioneering photography artist who focused his work depicting life in and around the coastal city of Whitby, England, in the late Victorian era and early 20th century. His most famous photograph was taken in 1886; called “Water Rats” and similar in concept to “In Puris Naturalibus”. Its exhibition caused a small earthquake at that time as it showed naked children playing in a boat, but like “In Puris Naturalibus” the image was not erotic. Sutcliffe used the conventions of academic nudity to show how photography can approach art.
Editors’ comments: Is this a landscape photograph, a portrait or a genre photograph? Perhaps we should classify it as the three, precisely this quality is what makes it unclassifiable. Be one of the lucky people who have the chance to know more photographs of this extraordinary artist, follow him.
Henry Peach Robinson, “Gossip on the Beach”, c. 1885
Henry Peach Robinson, British, 1830 – 1901, “Gossip on the Beach”, c. 1885, platinum print, overall: 35 x 62.8 cm (13 3/4 x 24 3/4 in.) Robert B. Menschel Fund. 2006.44.1. Not on View
Editors’ comments: Henry Peach Robinson captured a perfect moment whose characters seem ready to represent the composition of a painting. So, is it a genre photograph or a landscape with characters? because the frame is decidedly landscape. Many times photography has been used as a reference to turn it into a painting. Here is one that would serve magnificently for this purpose.
Eadweard Muybridge, “Moonlight Effect-Bay of Panama”, 1877
Eadweard Muybridge, American, born England, 1830 – 1904, “Moonlight Effect-Bay of Panama”, 1877, albumen print, image: 13.6 x 23.7 cm (5 3/8 x 9 5/16 in.) sheet: 17.8 x 26.7 cm (7 x 10 1/2 in.) mount: 25 x 33.2 cm (9 13/16 x 13 1/16 in.) Gift of Mary and Dan Solomon and Patrons’ Permanent Fund, 2006.133.107. Not on View.
About Eadweard Muybridge (April 9, 1830 – May 8, 1904) (born Edward James Muggeridge) was an English-U.S. photographer who was a pioneer in the photographic study of movement, and for his work in the projection of moving images. He was successful in photography, focusing mainly on themes of landscape and architecture.
Editors’ comments: A very suggestive image of the calm that invades the last hours of the day. Two planes are opposed, to dominate alternatively the interest of the visitor to this image. The sky and the moon as the protagonists of the title of the work must compete with the interest offered by the trimmed shadows of the boats. It is a dichotomy that takes interest from one plane to another without being able to decide which is the dominant one, while the moon stares at us so that we choose it.
William Henry Fox Talbot, “A Scene in York: York Minster from Lop Lane”, 1845
William Henry Fox Talbot, British, 1800 – 1877, “A Scene in York: York Minster from Lop Lane”, 1845, salted paper print, image: 16.2 x 20.4 cm (6 3/8 x 8 1/16 in.) sheet: 18.7 x 22.7 cm (7 3/8 x 8 15/16 in.) Edward J. Lenkin Fund, Melvin and Thelma Lenkin Fund and Stephen G. Stein Fund. 2011.57.1. Not on View.
Editors’ comments: This exceptional photograph could well be a perfect scenography for Theatre, Opera or Ballet. It has all the conditions: depth, atmosphere and very precise details in the architecture. It could work perfectly as a “trompe-l’œil” designed by a great artist specialized in this type of techniques.
Charles Marville, “Salle des Cariatides, au Musée du Louvre”
Album Photographique de l’Artiste et de l’Amateur(volume) c. 1851
Charles Marville, French, 1813 – 1879, “Salle des Cariatides, au Musée du Louvre”, Album Photographique de l’Artiste et de l’Amateur(volume) c. 1851, salted paper print from paper negative, sheet (trimmed to image): 15.7 x 21.2 cm (6 3/16 x 8 3/8 in.) page size: 33.5 x 51.1 cm (13 3/16 x 20 1/8 in.) overall: 40.6 x 55.9 cm (16 x 22 in.) Patrons’ Permanent Fund. 1995.36.101. Not on View.
About Charles Marville, pseudonym of Charles François Bossu. He was a photographer specializing in architecture, landscapes and urban environment. He used both paper and glass negatives. He photographically recorded the old Parisian quarters before they were destroyed and rebuilt under Baron Haussmann’s new plan for the modernization of Paris. In 1862, he was appointed official photographer of Paris.
Editors’ comments: This is an example of perfection in architectural photography. There is no single deformation or disproportion in the elements. The verticality is perfect, the sensation of depth and ubiquity is achieved, the light draws and models the elements with precision. What a great job with the precarious elements of the time!
Charles Marville, French, Hôtel de la Marine, 1864-1870
Charles Marville, French, 1813 – 1879, Hôtel de la Marine, 1864-1870, albumen print, image: 36.2 x 23.5 cm (14 1/4 x 9 1/4 in.) mount: 60.3 x 45.1 cm (23 3/4 x 17 3/4 in.) Diana and Mallory Walker Fund. 2006.23.1. Not on View.
Editors’ comments: Merville treats the street light as a sculpture, as an object of art, because it certainly is. All the old street light were designed with exquisite care in their aesthetics, from the simplest to the most elaborate. Why not put a simple round support tube instead of such an elaborate design? there was always an artistic intention on the part of their creators.
Merville perceived this artistic magnitude of this element and has portrayed it, rather than photographed it.
Possibly, the apparent simplicity of this photograph opens the door to a kind of minimalist and conceptual message. Having seen the omnipresence of the street light , Merville rescues it to turn it into an artistic protagonist of the urban landscape.
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