Étude de nuages

Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
Albumen silver print from glass negatives
Mount: 12 11/16 in. × 16 15/16 in. (32.3 × 43 cm)
Image: 12 5/8 in. × 16 in. (32 × 40.7 cm)
Credit Line:
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2012
Accession Number:
Not on view
Le Gray’s majestic marine views created an international sensation when they were first exhibited in London and Paris. At a time when camera exposures often lasted for several seconds, viewers were amazed by Le Gray’s ability to freeze the motion of breaking waves, and the perfectly backlit clouds drifting above reinforced the feeling of spontaneity. That the clouds and waves were printed from two separate negatives remained the artist’s secret during his lifetime. Although Le Gray never publicly acknowledged his method, he did leave some inadvertent clues in the pictures themselves. Here, the same dramatic cloud formation floats above two different beaches—one in Normandy, the other two along France’s Mediterranean coast.
Inscription: Signature stamp in red ink on print, recto BRC; Inscribed in pencil on mount, verso BLC: "300446.0000" [dealer's number]
[...]; (Dominic Winter, UK, November 6, 2002, lot 134); [Hans P. Kraus Jr. Fine Photographs, New York, sold to Sendak on February 26, 2003]; Maurice Sendak

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop," October 10, 2012–January 27, 2013.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop," February 17, 2013–May 5, 2013.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop," June 2, 2013–August 25, 2013.

Aubenas, Sylvie. Gustave Le Gray, 1820–1884. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 2002. no. 116, 268, fig. 296.

Fineman, Mia. Faking It: Manipulated Photography Before Photoshop. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2012. no. 26, pp. 49, 211.