This lavishly illustrated book establishes the towering influence of the scientist Victor Regnault (1810-1878) in the earliest decades of photography, a period of experimentation ripe with artistic, commercial, and scientific possibility. Regnault has a double significance to the early history of photography, as the first leader of the Société Française de Photographie (S.F.P.) and as the maker of more than two hundred calotype (paper negative) portraits and landscapes. His photographic and scientific careers intersected a third field with his appointment in 1852 as director of the Sèvres porcelain works.
Readers are treated to Regnault's own beguiling pastoral, garden, and forest scenes; striking portraits of the scientists and artists in his circle of friends; quirky images of acoustic experiments; and an insider's view of the Sèvres porcelain works. Regnault's richly varied photographs also encompass perhaps the most extensive group of family portraits in early photography, and his romanticized landscapes reflect a moment when the rural outskirts of Paris were being aggressively suburbanized and industrialized.
Occupying a unique and powerful position in the overlapping spheres of photography, science, industry, and art, Regnault was elected president of the newly formed S.F.P. in 1855. By examining his intertwined activities against the backdrop of French photography's nascent pursuit of institutional legitimacy, this book illuminates an important and overlooked body of images and the irregular cultural terrain of early photography.
|Publisher:||Princeton University Press|
|Product dimensions:||11.00(w) x 9.75(h) x 0.91(d)|
About the Author
Laurie Dahlberg is Associate Professor of Art History and Photography, and Chair of the Program in Art History, at Bard College. She has contributed essays to numerous books and exhibition catalogues.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Art of Avoiding Errors 13
Chapter 2: The Bull in the China Shop: photography at the Manufacture De SŠvres 43
Chapter 3: Fraternity and Family 79
Chapter 4: Landscape in the Shadow of Industry 131
Chapter 5: The Three Faces of Photography 181
Selected Bibliography 199
What People are Saying About This
The period chosen by Laurie Dahlberg for her novel and appealing look at Victor Regnault is now widely understood to have been one of the most vibrant and formative in the history of French photography, creating some of the most celebrated masterworks. Her choice of Regnault is equally fortuitous, as his name resonates across the years as a pivotal and influential figure, well regarded by his scientific and photographic colleagues alike.
Roger Taylor, coauthor of "Lewis Carroll: Photographer"
The most complete account of Regnault to date, this book will add tremendously to our knowledge about an important figure in early photography. But even more important is the expanded view Dahlberg creates of the invention in its historical time. The writing is excellent; you really feel a personality guiding you through the material with enthusiasm. Readers concerned with art history, cultural studies, and the history of industrialization in nineteenth-century France will find much to interest them here.
Nancy Keeler, independent scholar
Dahlberg has produced an engaging and clearly argued biography that centers on the uniqueness of the individualall the while demonstrating the reactions of this individual to a tumultuous and complex era. Through Regnault, the reader sees that many photographers were either wealthy or prominent professionals, and may observe how political tumult from the 1840s to the 1870s combined with the unstoppable advance of technology affected the actions and worldviews of people in positions of influence, from the royals to the middle-classes.
Mary Warner Marien, Syracuse University, author of "Photography: A Cultural History"