Gift of Arnold H. Crane, by exchange, and Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1993
Not on view
Astronomers at the Paris Observatory, brothers Paul and Prosper Henry inherited in 1872 a project begun twenty years earlier--the mapping of the heavens by means of painstaking observation, calculation, and notation. When their survey approached the Milky Way, the brothers found that the galaxy proved too dense and complex to chart by eye. They solved the problem by constructing a photographic telescope with an extraordinarily precise mechanism for tracking the stars across the night sky during exposures as long as one hour. This photograph of the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra shows but a three-degree section of the firmament, 1,956 light-years from earth. Once a star similar to our own sun, the nebula was formed when the star exploded, releasing gasses from its outer shell into space.
Inscription: Inscribed in black ink on the mount, recto BRC: "Nebuleuse de la Lyre // grossie 64 fois"
[Paris bookseller]; the Stuttgart gallery Mayer & Mayer acquired this photograph (along with additional works by the Henry Frères and other books and photographs relating to a 19th-century plan to produce a photographic chart of the heavens) from a Paris bookseller, ca. 1975
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 7," December 12, 1994–March 12, 1995.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Beyond the Edges: An Insider's Look at Early Photographs," October 9, 1998–February 14, 1999.
Musée d'Orsay. "Dans le champ des etoiles," June 5, 2000–September 10, 2000.
Spencer Museum of Art, University of Kansas. "Dans le champ des etoiles," December 23, 2000–April 1, 2001.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 34," February 25, 2003–June 22, 2003.
San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. "Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900," October 11, 2008–January 4, 2009.
Graphische Sammlung Albertina. "Brought to Light: Photography and the Invisible, 1840-1900," February 13, 2009–May 17, 2009.
The image shows M-57, the Ring Nebula in the constellation Lyra.