La Reine Hortense - Yacht de l'empereur, Havre, Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Albumen silver print from glass negative

La Reine Hortense - Yacht de l'empereur, Havre

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 31.8 x 41.3 cm (12 1/2 x 16 1/4 in.)
Mount: 53.1 x 66.3 cm (20 7/8 x 26 1/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
Not on view
Le Gray photographed the imperial yacht in the port of Le Havre in July 1856, just before it set off for Greenland and Spitzbergen on an expedition led by Prince Napoleon. The sleek vessel's rigging and guys seem to secure its perfect placement within Le Gray's frame.

In the late 1840s, Le Gray had helped perfect the paper negative process and the salted paper print, using to aesthetic advantage their tendency to exaggerate light and shadow and to impart a soft graininess to the picture. But in this photograph, and in the dramatic seascapes that followed and that won him international renown, Le Gray used a new technique-the glass plate negative and the albumen silver print-to achieve a limpid atmosphere, extreme clarity of detail, and flawless surface.
Inscription: no inscriptions or annotations visible
Gustave Le Gray; [...]; [François Braunschweig, Paris]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, April 3, 1978

Daniel Wolf Gallery. "Gustave Le Gray," September 4, 1979–September 29, 1979.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," June 4, 1987–August 16, 1987.

Art Institute of Chicago. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," September 18, 1987–December 6, 1987.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Howard Gilman Gallery: Inaugural Installation," October 16, 1997–February 1, 1998.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France. "Gustave Le Gray 1820-1884," March 15, 2002–June 15, 2002.

J. Paul Getty Museum. "Gustave Le Gray 1820-1884," July 9, 2002–September 29, 2002.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.

Moulin, Jean-Marie. The Second Empire, 1852–1870: Art in France Under Napolean III. Philadelphia: Philadelphia Museum of Art, 1978. no. VIII-15 (variant).

Parry Janis, Eugenia. The Photography of Gustave Le Gray. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1987. p. 60.

Aubenas, Sylvie. Gustave Le Gray, 1820–1884. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 2002. no. pl. 118, p. 115, fig. ill. 135.