Victor Prevost (French, 18201881)
Salted paper print from paper negative
Gift of John Goldsmith Phillips, 1940 (40.102.9)
Born in France, Victor Prevost emigrated to America in 1848 and remains one of the country's most enigmatic early photographers using the paper negative process. Prevost had learned his technique directly from Gustave Le Gray, the leading French photographer of the day, and used it with great success to photograph the evolving shape of New York City beginning in 1853. His views of the ever-changing facades of businesses on Broadway, the city's most active commercial artery, show remarkable aesthetic and historical sensitivity. Prevost's unusual aesthetic sensibility can be seen in this landscape with a carefully hidden figure seated among the boulders in the picture's lower right corner. The photograph offers a rare example of an American photographic artist in this period seemingly working only to please himself.