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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon , 1852 Waxed paper negative 22.1 x 16.8 cm Watermark "J Whatman"

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852
Waxed paper negative
22.1 x 16.8 cm
Watermark "J Whatman"

This print and its negative show the remarkable detail of this late Gothic church. It is one of the first times the artist used a 16 centimeter circular format which he employed and refined over the course of his career. The exposure was made with a small lens in combination with a larger camera body which enabled him to concentrate the lens' visual field in its entirety onto the sensitized paper negative at the back of the camera. Nègre was so taken with the circular format exhibited here that he regularly made trimmed tondo prints of his architectural views and genre compositions.
A pupil of Le Gray, Nègre traveled to Avignon to photograph for his projected publication, Le Midi de la France. In an 1854 manuscript that outlined his approach, he wrote that for audiences interested in architecture, "I have produced a general view of each monument for the architect. In placing the horizon line at the midpoint of the building's height and the point of view at the center, I have tried to avoid perspective distortions and have attempted to give to the drawings the aspect and the precision of a geometric elevation." The elevation view to which Nègre refers was more than a mere architectural convention but rather an essential form of visual knowledge in the nineteenth century. Nègre may not have let on how the elevation view was difficult to capture using the principles and limitations specific to the camera. Photographers of architecture were faced with many obstacles, from finding a suitable vantage point to framing the motif in order to complement the building's inherent geometry.

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852 Salt print from a waxed paper negative 18.5 x 15.6 cm

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852
Salt print from a waxed paper negative
18.5 x 15.6 cm

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Jouer aux boules, asylum, Vincennes, 1859 Albumen print from a collodion negative 16.7 cm tondo tipped onto 35.5 x 27.9 cm mat board

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Jouer aux boules, asylum, Vincennes, 1859
Albumen print from a collodion negative
16.7 cm tondo tipped onto 35.5 x 27.9 cm mat board

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Entrée de la Bibliothèque du Louvre, 1855 Coated salt print from an albumen on glass negative 33.6 x 24.1 cm on 34.9 x 25.3 cm paper

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Entrée de la Bibliothèque du Louvre, 1855
Coated salt print from an albumen on glass negative
33.6 x 24.1 cm on 34.9 x 25.3 cm paper

 

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Clôitre Saint-André, Chartres, probably summer 1851 Salt print from a paper negative 12.1 x 14.5 cm Signed "C. Nègre" in ink. Inscribed "A-29" and "No. 27" by André Jammes on verso.

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Clôitre Saint-André, Chartres, probably summer 1851
Salt print from a paper negative
12.1 x 14.5 cm
Signed "C. Nègre" in ink. Inscribed "A-29" and "No. 27" by André Jammes on verso

 

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) The children of actress Rachel with a young girl and dog, Auteuil, probably autumn 1853 Albumen print from a collodion negative 9.7 cm tondo on 12.4 x 17.1 cm paper

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
The children of actress Rachel with a young girl and dog, Auteuil, probably autumn 1853
Albumen print from a collodion negative
9.7 cm tondo on 12.4 x 17.1 cm paper

The most famous actress in mid-century France was Élisabeth Rachel Félix (1821–1858), known solely by the name Rachel. Her talents on stage were matched by her libertinism off it. In autumn 1853, she hired Nègre to take her portrait. He took several photographs of Rachel as well as her close family. This photograph—an untrimmed albumen print, along with a salt print with the skillful addition of color—portray the sons of Rachel accompanied by an unidentified young girl and dog on the grounds of an Auteuil mansion in Paris. Nine-year-old Alexandre is standing with his five-year-old half-brother Gabriel next to him. Nègre made the portrait using a modified combination lens that he paired with the technique of wet collodion on glass. In the negative, it seems he was dissatisfied with the lack of definition around the head of Alexandre, which he retouched and traced over, the brushstrokes of which are visible in the rough-hewn and charming untrimmed print.                

A similarly untrimmed albumen print of this image is in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay.

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Cathédrale de Chartres - Côté Occidental, Porte Latérale de droite XIIe siècle, Before 1867 Photogravure 59.8 x 45.1 cm image

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Cathédrale de Chartres - Côté Occidental, Porte Latérale de droite XIIe siècle, Before 1867
Photogravure
59.8 x 45.1 cm image

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853 Waxed paper negative 33.8 x 23.9 cm Partial watermark "J WHATMAN"

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853
Waxed paper negative
33.8 x 23.9 cm
Partial watermark "J WHATMAN"

From his high vantage point in the afternoon light Charles Nègre (1820-1880) obtained this unobstructed view of the towers and portals, a position isolating the monument as a unified work of art within the image’s frame. The images show the stained glass removed from the central rose window, and a wooden cover and scaffolding surrounding the central portal, both of which date to when the cathedral’s façade underwent restorations starting in 1853. Both the negative and the variant positive, are the result of a separate exposure. Considered together the photographs offer insight into Nègre's working process, making multiple exposures of varying length in similar optimum lighting conditions and refining and revising his technique in an attempt to do justice to his subject.

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Notre-Dame, Paris*, circa 1853 Salt print from a paper negative 32.8 x 23.2 cm mounted on 33.0 x 23.4 cm modern rag paper Inscribed "Coll. André Jammes" and "B30 / #46" by André Jammes in pencil on mount verso.

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853
Salt print from a paper negative
32.8 x 23.2 cm mounted on 33.0 x 23.4 cm modern rag paper
Inscribed "Coll. André Jammes" and "B30 / #46" by André Jammes in pencil on mount verso.

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Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon , 1852 Waxed paper negative 22.1 x 16.8 cm Watermark "J Whatman"

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852
Waxed paper negative
22.1 x 16.8 cm
Watermark "J Whatman"

This print and its negative show the remarkable detail of this late Gothic church. It is one of the first times the artist used a 16 centimeter circular format which he employed and refined over the course of his career. The exposure was made with a small lens in combination with a larger camera body which enabled him to concentrate the lens' visual field in its entirety onto the sensitized paper negative at the back of the camera. Nègre was so taken with the circular format exhibited here that he regularly made trimmed tondo prints of his architectural views and genre compositions.
A pupil of Le Gray, Nègre traveled to Avignon to photograph for his projected publication, Le Midi de la France. In an 1854 manuscript that outlined his approach, he wrote that for audiences interested in architecture, "I have produced a general view of each monument for the architect. In placing the horizon line at the midpoint of the building's height and the point of view at the center, I have tried to avoid perspective distortions and have attempted to give to the drawings the aspect and the precision of a geometric elevation." The elevation view to which Nègre refers was more than a mere architectural convention but rather an essential form of visual knowledge in the nineteenth century. Nègre may not have let on how the elevation view was difficult to capture using the principles and limitations specific to the camera. Photographers of architecture were faced with many obstacles, from finding a suitable vantage point to framing the motif in order to complement the building's inherent geometry.

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852 Salt print from a waxed paper negative 18.5 x 15.6 cm

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Saint Pierre Basilica, Avignon, 1852
Salt print from a waxed paper negative
18.5 x 15.6 cm

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Jouer aux boules, asylum, Vincennes, 1859 Albumen print from a collodion negative 16.7 cm tondo tipped onto 35.5 x 27.9 cm mat board

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Jouer aux boules, asylum, Vincennes, 1859
Albumen print from a collodion negative
16.7 cm tondo tipped onto 35.5 x 27.9 cm mat board

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Entrée de la Bibliothèque du Louvre, 1855 Coated salt print from an albumen on glass negative 33.6 x 24.1 cm on 34.9 x 25.3 cm paper

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Entrée de la Bibliothèque du Louvre, 1855
Coated salt print from an albumen on glass negative
33.6 x 24.1 cm on 34.9 x 25.3 cm paper

 

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Clôitre Saint-André, Chartres, probably summer 1851 Salt print from a paper negative 12.1 x 14.5 cm Signed "C. Nègre" in ink. Inscribed "A-29" and "No. 27" by André Jammes on verso.

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Clôitre Saint-André, Chartres, probably summer 1851
Salt print from a paper negative
12.1 x 14.5 cm
Signed "C. Nègre" in ink. Inscribed "A-29" and "No. 27" by André Jammes on verso

 

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) The children of actress Rachel with a young girl and dog, Auteuil, probably autumn 1853 Albumen print from a collodion negative 9.7 cm tondo on 12.4 x 17.1 cm paper

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
The children of actress Rachel with a young girl and dog, Auteuil, probably autumn 1853
Albumen print from a collodion negative
9.7 cm tondo on 12.4 x 17.1 cm paper

The most famous actress in mid-century France was Élisabeth Rachel Félix (1821–1858), known solely by the name Rachel. Her talents on stage were matched by her libertinism off it. In autumn 1853, she hired Nègre to take her portrait. He took several photographs of Rachel as well as her close family. This photograph—an untrimmed albumen print, along with a salt print with the skillful addition of color—portray the sons of Rachel accompanied by an unidentified young girl and dog on the grounds of an Auteuil mansion in Paris. Nine-year-old Alexandre is standing with his five-year-old half-brother Gabriel next to him. Nègre made the portrait using a modified combination lens that he paired with the technique of wet collodion on glass. In the negative, it seems he was dissatisfied with the lack of definition around the head of Alexandre, which he retouched and traced over, the brushstrokes of which are visible in the rough-hewn and charming untrimmed print.                

A similarly untrimmed albumen print of this image is in the collection of the Musée d’Orsay.

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Cathédrale de Chartres - Côté Occidental, Porte Latérale de droite XIIe siècle, Before 1867 Photogravure 59.8 x 45.1 cm image

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Cathédrale de Chartres - Côté Occidental, Porte Latérale de droite XIIe siècle, Before 1867
Photogravure
59.8 x 45.1 cm image

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853 Waxed paper negative 33.8 x 23.9 cm Partial watermark "J WHATMAN"

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853
Waxed paper negative
33.8 x 23.9 cm
Partial watermark "J WHATMAN"

From his high vantage point in the afternoon light Charles Nègre (1820-1880) obtained this unobstructed view of the towers and portals, a position isolating the monument as a unified work of art within the image’s frame. The images show the stained glass removed from the central rose window, and a wooden cover and scaffolding surrounding the central portal, both of which date to when the cathedral’s façade underwent restorations starting in 1853. Both the negative and the variant positive, are the result of a separate exposure. Considered together the photographs offer insight into Nègre's working process, making multiple exposures of varying length in similar optimum lighting conditions and refining and revising his technique in an attempt to do justice to his subject.

Charles NÈGRE (French, 1820-1880) Notre-Dame, Paris*, circa 1853 Salt print from a paper negative 32.8 x 23.2 cm mounted on 33.0 x 23.4 cm modern rag paper Inscribed "Coll. André Jammes" and "B30 / #46" by André Jammes in pencil on mount verso.

Charles Nègre (French, 1820-1880)
Notre-Dame, Paris, circa 1853
Salt print from a paper negative
32.8 x 23.2 cm mounted on 33.0 x 23.4 cm modern rag paper
Inscribed "Coll. André Jammes" and "B30 / #46" by André Jammes in pencil on mount verso.

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