Robert Demachy (French, 18591936)
Gum bichromate print; 5 5/16 x 5 13/16 in. (13.5 x 14.8 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.58)
Demachy was, with Émile Joachim Constant Puyo, the leader of the French Pictorial movement in France. His aesthetic sophistication and skill with the gum bichromate technique, which he revived in 1894 and pressed into the service of fine art photography, were internationally renowned. With the gum medium, he was able to achieve the appearance of a drawing or printmaking processin this photograph, he has added marks characteristic of etching during intermediate stages of developmentin order to advocate photography's membership in the fine arts by revealing the intervention of the photographer's hand in the printmaking stage of the photographic process. The result attested to Demachy's mastery of his medium, but also proved his ability to unify a composition and select significant details from the myriad of facts available in his negatives. In this picture, Demachy has gently elided the background and erased the features of the left third of the image in order to emphasize the grace and delicacy of the ballet dancer that is its subject.