Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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[The Great Wave, Sète]

Artist:
Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
Date:
1857
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions:
33.7 x 41.4 cm (13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gift of John Goldsmith Phillips, 1976
Accession Number:
1976.646
Not on view
The dramatic effects of sunlight, clouds, and water in Le Gray's seascapes stunned his contemporaries and immediately brought him international recognition. At a time when photographic emulsions were not equally sensitive to all colors of the spectrum, most photographers found it impossible to achieve proper exposure of both landscape and sky in a single picture. Le Gray solved this problem by printing two negatives on a single sheet of paper: one exposed for the sea, the other for the sky, and sometimes made on separate occasions or in different locations. Le Gray's marine pictures caused a sensation not only because their simultaneous depiction of sea and heavens represented a technical tour de force, but also because the resulting poetic effect was without precedent in photography.
Inscription: Facsimile signature stamp in red ink on print, recto, bottom left: "Gustave Le Gray"; blindstamp on mount, recto, bottom center: "PHOTOGRAPHIE // GUSTAVE LE GRAY & C// PARIS [encircled]"
[...]; John Goldsmith Phillips, Palm Beach

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Recent Acquisitions, Department of Prints and Photographs," December 6, 1977–February 19, 1978.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs from the Museum's Collection," December 4, 1984–March 17, 1985.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," June 4, 1987–August 16, 1987.

Art Institute of Chicago. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," September 18, 1987–December 6, 1987.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 8," March 14, 1995–June 11, 1995.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.

Parry Janis, Eugenia. The Photography of Gustave Le Gray. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1987. no. 15.

Barnet, Peter, and Atsuyuki Nakahara. Earth, Sea, and Sky: Nature in Western Art: Masterpieces from The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Tokyo: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. pp. 22, 28, fig. 3.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Guide. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. p. 439.



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