The French and English Fleets, Cherbourg

Gustave Le Gray French

Not on view

Le Gray emerged around 1850 as the most important member of a group of French artists that elected photography as an alternative to painting. His technically superior ability to capture momentary effects of light and atmosphere—in seascapes, landscapes, and architectural views—won him critical praise and prestigious commissions and presaged the concerns and pictorial strategies of the Impressionists a decade later. Le Gray had been photographing the sea for years when he headed to Cherbourg and Brest in August 1858 to record the naval exercises of the mighty French and English fleets. The maritime series shows the artist’s mastery of the landscape even as the seemingly small scale of the very real warships suggests a bit of child’s play with models afloat in a bath.

The French and English Fleets, Cherbourg, Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884), Albumen silver print from glass negative

Due to rights restrictions, this image cannot be enlarged, viewed at full screen, or downloaded.

Open Access

As part of the Met's Open Access policy, you can freely copy, modify and distribute this image, even for commercial purposes.


Public domain data for this object can also be accessed using the Met's Open Access API.