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Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography

Edited by Karen Hellman and Carolyn Peter

The first English-language volume about Hippolyte Bayard, one of the inventors of photography who helped transform the burgeoning medium into an art form.

Hippolyte Bayard (1801–1887) is often characterized as an underdog in the early history of photography. From the outset, his contribution to the invention of the medium was eclipsed by others such as Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) and William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877). However, Bayard had an undeniable role in the birth of photography and its subsequent evolution into a form of art. He was a pioneer in artistic style, innovator in terms of practice, and teacher of the next generation of photographers.

Alongside an exploration of Bayard’s decades-long career and lasting impact, this volume presents—for the first time in print—some of the earliest photographs in existence. An album containing nearly 200 images, 145 of those by or attributed to Bayard, is among the Getty Museum’s rarest and most treasured photographic holdings. Few prints have ever been seen in person due to the extreme light sensitivity of Bayard’s experimental processes, making this an essential reference for scholars and enthusiasts of the very beginning of photography.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from April 9 to July 7, 2024.

Karen Hellman is former associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Carolyn Peter is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

“Superbly illustrated publication.” 
—Martin Filler, The New York Review of Books

“The catalog for the show, Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography, should appeal to a wide audience. It has an informative, well-illustrated chronology to put matters in perspective.”
—Bondo Wyszpolski, Easy Rider News

“The most detailed and rich book I have read thus far about this forgotten pioneer.”
—Sandrine Hermand-Grisel, All About Photo

“Illuminating Bayard through his social connections, self-contradictions, and critical fortune, this essential volume brings to light a key figure in the invention of photography too long relegated to the shadows. Most significantly, Bayard is revealed through his lifework of photographs, most from the Getty album and many published here for the first time.”
—Stephen C. Pinson, Curator of Photographs, The Metropolitan Museum of Art

“This marvelous volume, the first of its kind in English, combines comprehensive archival research on the elusive Bayard with penetrating short essays on individual photographs. With its meticulously researched chapters by Bayard experts and gorgeous illustrations that can stand in for those of the photographs that are now too fragile to exhibit, this book is a windfall to historians of photography. It is not an exaggeration to say the field has been waiting years for a publication like this. In addition to its scholarly contribution, this book will be a revelation to any lover of photography.”
—Laurie Dahlberg, Associate Professor, Program in Art History and Photography, Bard College

“At last we have a comprehensive book in the English language about one of the most interesting of photography’s pioneers. Incessantly experimental and an omnivorous picture maker, Hippolyte Bayard is a photographer who has stood the test of time: as this copiously illustrated book demonstrates, his work is as fascinating today as it was in the nineteenth century.”
—Geoffrey Batchen, Professor of the History of Art, University of Oxford

304 pages
9 x 11 inches
288 color illustrations
ISBN 978-1-60606-893-9

Getty Publications
Imprint: J. Paul Getty Museum