Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History



  • The Great Wave, Sète, 1856–59
    Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
    Albumen silver print from glass negative; 13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in. (33.7 x 41.4 cm)
    Gift of John Goldsmith Phillips, 1976 (1976.646)

    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.

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  • The Great Wave, Sète, 1856–59
    Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
    Albumen silver print from glass negative; 13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in. (33.7 x 41.4 cm)
    Gift of John Goldsmith Phillips, 1976 (1976.646)

    Mediterranean with Mount Agde, 1857
    Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
    Albumen silver print from two glass negatives

    12 1/2 x 16 1/8 in. (31.8 x 40.9 cm)
    Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1996 (1996.99.1)


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