Edited by Gordon Baldwin
Contributions by Anne Cartier-Bresson, Joachim Bonnemaison, Barthélémy Jobert, Claude Schopp, Mercedes Volait, and Henri Zerner
Gustave Le Gray's life was as romantic as any novel. A young painter in Rome, then a fashionable portrait photographer in Paris, Le Gray received commissions from Napoleon III, and astonished viewers with his painterly landscapes and ravishing seascapes. Facing bankruptcy, he fled Paris with Alexandre Dumas to Palermo, traveled to the Middle East, and finally settled in Egypt, where he became drawing master to the ruler's children and continued to make photographs until his death in 1884.
Le Gray's work had remained largely unknown by the general public until he was rediscovered in the 1960s and was deemed by connoisseurs to be the Monet of photography. The fruit of years of research, this complete retrospective offers, as no volume before it, an assessment of Le Gray's important place in the history of photography.
This catalogue was originally published in French to accompany the exhibition Gustave Le Gray, Photographer (1820–1884) at the Bibliothèque Nationale in spring 2002. This English-language edition coincided with an abridged version of the same exhibition at the J. Paul Getty Museum that ran from July 9 to September 29, 2002.
Sylvie Aubenas is curator of nineteenth-century photographs at the Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris. Gordon Baldwin was associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Anne Cartier-Bresson is head of conservation studies of the city of Paris; Joachim Bonnemaison is a photography historian; Barthélémy Jobert is professor of art history at the University of Grenoble; Claude Schopp is a specialist in French literature; and Henri Zerner is professor of art history at Harvard University.