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Photographs - 3 of 10

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Brig on the Water by Gustave Le Gray

Gustave Le Gray
French, 1820-1882
Brig on the Water
Albumen print from wet-collodion-on-glass negative
32.1 x 41.2 cm
Acquired by the Sterling and Francine Clark Art Institute, 1998

Le Gray's Brig on the Water created a sensation when it was first shown in London and Paris at the exhibitions of the Photographic Society and the Société de Photographie in 1856 and 1857. In this image Le Gray appears to have conquered one of the technical shortcomings of early photography, namely, its inability to capture details of landscape and sky in a single exposure. Many contemporary viewers believed that Le Gray had combination printed two separate negatives of sea and sky, as he is now known to have done in several other instances, but the photographer asserted that this seascape was, in fact, made from a single negative. The purely visual evidence of the surviving prints suggest that he was telling the truth.