Question of Art


1839 Paul Delaroche declared "from this day, painting is dead" in reference to the newly announced daguerreotype

Arguments against photography's artistic merits:
  • Machines cannot create art
  • Art should be grand and dramatic, not realistic
  • Photography reduced art to common materials and anyone could do it
  • Painters feared that photography would make their media obsolete
Paul Delarouche, Execution of Lady Jane Gray, 1834.











Charles Baudelaire, On Photography

Photography had become "the refuge of failed painters with too little talent"
"I am convinced that the badly applied advances of photography, like all purely material progress for that matter, have greatly contributed to the impoverishment of French artistic genius."
"From that moment onwards, our loathsome society rushed, like Narcissus, to contemplate its trivial image on a metallic  plate.  A form of lunacy, an extraordinary fantaicism took hold of these new sun-worshippers."
Nadar, Portrait of Charles Baudelaire, 1863.











1820 - 1910


Nadar. Self-Portrait. c. 1855. Salted paperprint.


Gaspard Felix Tournachon

"Tourne a dard" = one who stings











Nadar's aim in portraiture was to find "that instant of understanding that puts you in touch with the model - helps you sum him up, guides you to his habits, his ideas, and character and enables you to produce a really convincing and sympathetic likeness, an intimate portrait." - A World History of Photography

Sarah Bernhardt

Nadar, Sarah Bernhardt, 1865. Albumen.











Sarah Bernhardt

Nadar, Sarah Bernhardt, 1865. Albumen print.

Napoleon Sarony, Sarah Bernhardt, c. 1880. Albumen print.











Nadar, Marie Laurent, 1856.
Nadar, Charles Deburau as Pierrot, 1854.











Nadar considered himself a "daredevil, always on the lookout for currents to swim against."
Nadar "elevating photography to the condition of art", 1862, Honoré Daunier. This caricature appeared in Le Boulevard on 25 May, 1862.











Nadar, Arc de Triumph and the Grand Boulevards, Paris, from a Baloon, 1868.
Nadar, The Catacombs, 1861 - 1862.


More Nadar images











Oscar G. Rejlander
1813 - 1875


Duchenne de Boulogne, Study of muscles in the face and emotion, 1852 - 1856.












Darwin's The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals, 1872











How did this photograph argue the case for the artistic merits of photography?


Two Ways of Life

Oscar G. Rejlander, Two Ways of Life, 1857. Albumen silver print. 16" X 31".











School of Athens

Raphael, School of Athens, c. 1510 - 1511.


"I am tired of photography-for-the-public, particularly composite photographs, for there can be
no gain and there is no honour, only cavil and misrepresentation." - Oscar Rejlander in 1859











Women in center of Two Ways of Life

separate negatives used in Two Ways of Life












Fading Away

Henry Peach Robinson, Fading Away, 1858. Albumen silver print.











Pensive Young Girl

Oscar Rejlander, Pensive Young Girl, c. 1860.


More on Rejlander's Charlotte Baker series











1858 Photography Exhibition
Photographic Societies & Amateur Photo Clubs
Photographic societies provided:
  • Organized exhibitions of photographic works
  • Published magazines and newsletters with how-to information and scholarly discussion of theory
  • Community of people who believed and defended the artistic virtues of photography
  • Support and encouragement to the amateur and hobbyist
1858 Photography exhibition











Lady Clementina Hawarden
1822 - 1865


Lady Clementina Hawarden, Photographic Study, Early 1860s. Albumen silver print.










Lady Clementina Hawarden, Clementina Maude, c. 1862.











Lady Clementina Hawarden, Isabella Grace and Clementina Maude,  c. 1863.











Lady Clementina Hawarden,
Photographic Study. c. 1863.
Lady Clementina Hawarden,
Daughters on a Balcony c. 1865.











In 1861, the age of consent was raised
from 10 to 12 in England
While there is no evidence that Hawarden was deliberately exploring the topic of adolescent sexuality, the popular concern is arguably evident in her images
Lady Clementina Hawarden, Isabella Grace, c. 1860s.