ABOUT THIS BOOK
Gustave Le Gray (1820-1882) was one of the most technically accomplished and aesthetically enlightened of the early "artist-photographers." Trained as a painter of portraits and landscapes, Le Gray was attracted in the 1840s to the artistic potential of photographic processes. As a photographer he evolved and refined much of photography's primary aesthetic theory. By 1855 he had influenced, if not taught, every important photographer in France.
Drawing on entirely new material Eugenia Parry Janis fully analyzes the life and work of Le Gray and demonstrates the originality of his artistic achievement in the context of discoveries about his personal and professional history. Janis, approaching the photographs of Le Gray with the methods and sensibilities of an art historian, reveals telling connections between Le Gray's choices of subject matter and formal means of presentation and the existing pictorial practice of other media such as painting. This same approach makes her sensitive to Le Gray's departures from such traditional practice, and she skillfully illustrates how he evolved from student painter into master photographer. In doing so she gives us a glimpse of the way in which Le Gray's manipulation of the photographic process was always informed by his pictorial needs and by his developing style.