From Today, Painting Is Dead: Early Photography in Britain and France
February 24 – May 12, 2019
Adults $30; seniors $28; students $5; members free
About the Exhibition
In its second photography exhibition, the Barnes presents nearly 250 iconic pictures created in Britain and France between the 1840s and the 1880s. Following the production of the first photographs in the 1830s, and before the advent of Kodak’s point-and-shoot camera in 1888, artists experimented with photography, creating innovative processes and uniquely compelling representational tropes.
When the influential French painter Paul Delaroche saw a photograph for the first time, he proclaimed, “From today, painting is dead!”
This exhibition explores the very fertile period in the early history of photography, when the medium’s pioneers were grappling with the complex inheritance of official, state-sponsored visual culture.
- Original calotypes from 1840 to 1845 by William Henry Fox Talbot, including still lifes, portraits, landscapes, and street scenes from both England and France.
- The earliest war photographs, taken of the Crimean War by Roger Fenton, including his iconic Valley of the Shadow of Death as well as the 11-plate panorama of Sebastopol.
- An 1844 daguerreotype of Jerusalem—one of the first of the city—by Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey.
- A full-plate daguerreotype of the Fontaine des Innocents in Paris by Baron Jean-Baptiste-Louis Gros from 1850.
- Some of the earliest existing travel photographs of the Middle East, Southern Europe, Africa, India, Burma, Ecuador, Mexico, and New Zealand.
- Portraits by Félix Nadar, Napoleonic Paris’s great portraitist and larger-than-life personality, with subjects ranging from literary legends—including an oversize 1885 deathbed portrait of Victor Hugo—to the first official Japanese delegation to France (1864). Also included are Nadar’s 1860s photographs of the Paris catacombs and sewers, which represent one of the first uses of artificial lighting in photography.
- Pre-Raphaelite allegorical portraiture by Julia Margaret Cameron.
- French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey’s 1880s motion studies of athletes, which prefigure the development of motion pictures, much like Eadweard Muybridge’s motion studies in the US.
- Seascapes, landscapes, photographs of military maneuvers, and other works by Gustave Le Gray, the leader of the 1850s French movement of fine art photography.
All works are from the collection of Michael Mattis and Judy Hochberg. This exhibition was organized by the Barnes Foundation in association with art2art Circulating Exhibitions. The presentation is curated by Thom Collins, executive director and president of the Barnes.
This exhibition was produced as part of a new educational venture between the Barnes and the University of Pennsylvania led by Thom Collins and professor Aaron Levy, with curatorial contributions from students in the 2018 Spiegel-Wilks Curatorial Seminar Ars Moriendi: Life and Death in Early Photography.
This exhibition is sponsored by:
The Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz Exhibition Fund
The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation
Aileen and Brian Roberts
Critical support for the exhibition comes from contributors to the Barnes Foundation Exhibition Fund:
Joan Carter and John Aglialoro • Julia and David Fleischner • Leigh and John Middleton • Jeanette and Joe Neubauer
John Alchin and Hal Marryatt, Christine and Michael Angelakis, Jill and Sheldon Bonovitz, Lois and Julian Brodsky, N. Judith Broudy, Laura and Bill Buck, Gloria and John Drosdick, Eugene and Michelle Dubay, Lisa D. Kabnick and John H. McFadden, Marguerite and Gerry Lenfest, Victoria McNeil Le Vine, Leslie Miller and Richard Worley Foundation, Hilarie and Mitchell Morgan, Kay and Michael Park, The Rittenhouse Hotel, Adele K. Schaeffer, Katie and Tony Schaeffer, Joan F. Thalheimer, van Beuren Charitable Foundation, Kirsten White, A. Morris Williams, Jr., Michele Plante and Robert N. Wilson, Anonymous