Artist: Louis-Rémy Robert (French, 1810–1882)
Medium: Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions: 22.6 x 16.8 cm (8 7/8 x 6 5/8 in.)
Credit Line: Purchase, Joyce and Robert Menschel, Mrs. Harrison D. Horblit and Paul F. Walter Gifts, and Rogers Fund, 1991
Accession Number: 1991.1044
Louis Robert grew up on the premises of the Royal Porcelain Factory at Sèvres and assumed the leadership of its Painting Workshop in 1847. Inclined by training and temperament toward endeavors that brought painting and chemistry together, he was among the earliest French artists to take up paper photography as an amateur pursuit, in about 1850.
Robert’s colleague Alfred Gobert, head of the Enameling Workshop at Sèvres, is shown here with his head slightly bowed and his eyes half closed (in part to help maintain his pose during a long exposure in bright sunlight), as if lost in thought. The shallow depth of field—only Gobert’s face is in focus—and the flecks of light and soft massing of shadows so characteristic of prints from paper negatives heighten the sense that this portrait is a privileged meditation by Robert on the interior world of his friend.