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Not Human (excerpt), by Brandon Latu

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River Scene

Camille Silvy (French, 1835–1869)

Date:
1858
Medium:
Albumen silver print from glass negatives
Dimensions:
Image: 25.7 x 35.6 cm (10 1/8 x 14 in.) Frame: 60 x 75.2 cm (23 5/8 x 29 5/8 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Description

    When Silvy’s River Scene was first exhibited, in 1858, critics extolled the artist’s ability to transform the present-day scene before the camera into a perfect embodiment of the picturesque. In fact, Silvy went to great lengths to improve upon the beauty of nature. To add human interest to the rural landscape, he conscripted friends and locals to pose on both sides of the river and hired a technician to operate the camera while he directed the participants’ positions and gestures. The photograph was printed from two glass negatives, which he retouched extensively, painting in clouds, foliage, and reflections in the water.

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