This paper negative, from the collection of Robert's descendants, shows Jacques-Joseph Ebelmen, director of the Sèvres porcelain factory, on his deathbed March 31, 1852. From its inception, photography was enlisted to record the faces of the deceased-it was, in effect, a new type of death mask. As the antipode to proper representation of the living world, the negative is particularly appropriate for a depiction of death. In it, Ebelmen's head-with pallid skin and white hair-rests on black pillows, and the slight solarization of the negative suggests a spiritual aura.
From the artist, by descent, to Guy Watelin, Paris; [Galerie Baudoin Lebon, Paris, 1999]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.
Musée d'Orsay. "Le Dernier Portrait," March 4, 2002–May 26, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Fatal Attraction: Piotr Uklański Selects from the Met Collection," March 17–June 14, 2015.
Uklański, Piotr. Piotr Uklański: Fatal Attraction. New York: Rizzoli International Publications, 2015.