Gustave Le Gray

Alphonse Delaunay French

Not on view

Gustave Le Gray, the central figure in French photography in the
1850s, was famed not only for his sylvan studies in Fontainebleau
Forest and his dramatic seascapes but also for his technical
innovation and photographic instruction. At his studio near the
Barrière de Clichy in Paris he taught more than fifty photographers
their art; among them were some, including Roger Fenton, who are
now considered part of the pantheon, and others, such as Alphonse
De Launay, who were nearly lost to history.

In this remarkably spontaneous and expressive portrait, Le Gray’s
protégé perfectly captured both the ease of a master enjoying his
success and the cockiness of the man who, six years later, would flee
his creditors, abandon his wife and children, sail the Mediterranean
with Alexandre Dumas, and end his days in Egypt as tutor to the
Pasha’s sons. Some credit must also go to Le Gray, whose active
participation—perhaps even directing his pupil—accounts for much
of the picture’s success.

Gustave Le Gray, Alphonse Delaunay (French, 1827–1906), Salted paper print from glass negative

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