[Man in Chainmail Tunic Posing as a Dying Soldier]

Adrien Constant de Rebecque Swiss

Not on view

The early Swiss photographer Constant Delessert was likely introduced to the medium by his wife’s Parisian cousins Édouard and Benjamin Delessert. Although Constant was known through exhibition records, his membership in the Société Française de Photographie, and his writings on photographic processes, his work was unfamiliar until recently, when a series of his albums appeared at auction, filled primarily with standard portraits of family members and others, city and landscape views, and a few genre scenes.

This unusual photograph, however, stands apart from his more typical work. Undoubtedly made as a study for a painting, it shows a man dressed in a chainmail tunic, striking the classic pose of a dying warrior. By the early 1860s photography had become a common aid for painters and sculptors, but this work vividly reveals the differences between the mediums: the heroic figure, full of pathos, dying on the battlefield in some grand history painting may have had its origin in a model posed in the studio on a carpet, his head supported by a cut- velvet pillow on the seat of a finely carved chair.

[Man in Chainmail Tunic Posing as a Dying Soldier], Adrien Constant de Rebecque (Swiss, Lausanne 1806–1876 Lausanne), Albumen silver print from collodion glass negative

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