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How Photography Changed Painting (and Vice Versa)
When painter and showman Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre burst onto the scene in 1839 with his Daguerreotype—one of the earliest forms of photography—“Daguerreotypemania” quickly ensued. The art world quickly took notice of the new kid on the block, both negatively and positively. Dominique de Font-Réaulx’s simply titled Painting and Photography: 1839-1914 tells the not so simple story of how photography came to influence the world of painting, and vice versa. “[C]oncentrating less on immediate links between a photo and a given work of painting or drawing,” de Font-Réaulx instead focuses “on the manner in which photography gave rise to a paradigm of representation at once original yet familiar.” Painting and Photography: 1839-1914 outlines how what started as competition soon became an alliance of vision that changed the way we see forever.
de Font-Réaulx, chief curator at the Musée du Louvre in Paris and senior coordinator in the Louvre Abu Dhabi project, masterfully sets up the pre-1839 scene first, allowing you to step back in time and appreciate just how revolutionary and challenging photography first was. Photography enters just as the influence of the Paris Salon declines and the Romantic ideal of the “artist as hero” rises. “The requirement that an artwork should extol—in the service of God or king—was gradually being overlaid by a desire to communicate feelings and effects,” she writes. Daguerre, thanks to the help of Francois Arago (who anointed Daguerre the father of photography over other contenders such as Nicéphore Niépce and William Henry Fox Talbot), assumed the mantle of artist-hero with his “magical” means of capturing images through light onto his eponymous creation. From there, photography continued to grow in influence, not only in popular culture, but also in painting itself. “Intimately linked to painting, through its choice of subject matter, its representational idiom, but also through the multiplication of the image brought by its dissemination,” de Font-Réaulx writes, “photography gave rise to a new relationship to reality and its representation, which then boomeranged on its elder sister.”
Photography’s big break came at the very first two World’s Fairs: 1851 in London and 1855 in Paris. Photography shown at those fairs by Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Hippolyte Bayard, and others argued for the new medium’s status as fine art just as many photographers literally argued for exhibition space at Salons and museums. Charges of commercialism, industrialism, and the banality of reproducing quotidian life in all its ugliness clung to photography and even became smears against “photographic” realist painters such as Gustave Courbet.
Slowly, however, photography found a place alongside painting. “Photographic depictions played a key role—though one little noticed and commented on at the time—in a newfound attention to novel motifs and to the transience of the atmosphere,” de Font-Réaulx argues. Placed on a page facing a seascape photo by Le Gray, Courbet’s 1869 painting The Wave clearly owes a debt to the photograph’s ability to capture the fleeting moment for the painter to capture once more. La Havre’s Auguste Autin’s photographic series of atmospheric effects may have influence a young man from his same town—Claude Monet—to paint the series of paintings that would found Impressionism. de Font-Réaulx dazzles with a selection of convincing examples illustrating her points without ever losing sight of the bigger picture of the paradigm shift in painting spurred by photography. Likewise, she shows the reciprocal effect on photography, particularly in portraiture, such as in the anonymous portrait of two sisters eerily similar to Théodore Chassériau’s painting (shown above), where photographers borrowed painter’s “tricks” to elude the limitations of the still-young technology.
Jean-Léon Gérôme emerges from the pack not only as a transitional figure, but as a different kind of hero adopting photography rather than rejecting it. A teacher as well as an working artist, Gérôme accepted photography as just another means to achieving aesthetic goals and taught his students to feel the same. A prominent Orientalist, Gérôme actually trumpeted his use of photography as a way of boosting his documentary credibility. de Font-Réaulx’s masterfully reads Gérôme’s 1861 painting Phryne before the Areopagus, which features a bravura female nude based on a photograph by Nadar, as a statement on “the latent ambiguity surrounding the academic and the erotic nude” complicated by photography’s offering of an actual, rather than ideal woman’s body. Such little battles and little triumphs fill Painting and Photography: 1839-1914.
Seeing Gérôme’s name made me think instantly of his pupil, American artist Thomas Eakins, who made great use of photography in his work. Alas, Eakins fails to appear, as do many non-French artists of the period who made use of photography in their painting. de Font-Réaulx defends (justifiably) the book’s French focus by arguing that “it was in that nation that the arguments relating to [photography’s] nature, function, and use were most amply rehearsed,” with “the Paris Salons [the place] that the artistic maelstrom brewed and continued to rage until the end of the nineteenth century.” However, the author does manage to venture abroad occasionally to great effect: to America, where Timothy O’Sullivan’s photos helped spread the mystique of the American West; and to England, where Pre-Raphaelite photographer Julia Margaret Cameron, de Font-Réaulx writes, “for the first time, in the service of a new and subtle vein of aesthetic grace, [used] the hitherto photographic accident of ‘soft focus’… to significant artistic purpose.”
Writing of painters (such as Fernand Khnopff) who denied their use of photography, critic Ernest Lacan described those painters’ relationship to photography as “like a mistress whom one cherishes but hides.” Dominique de Font-Réaulx’s Painting and Photography: 1839-1914 allows nineteenth century French painting finally to allow its “mistress” photography to come out of the closet. Many studies of the photography-painting link in regards to individual works or individual artists have appeared in the last few decades, but de Font-Réaulx’s study aims at an overarching theme that recreates the controversy itself as it played out in the galleries, studios, and in the images themselves. Written in an engaging, accessible style that never compromises on academic rigor, Painting and Photography: 1839-1914 provides a template for studying the early influence of photography on painting (and vice versa) for years to come.
[Image: (Left) Théodore Chassériau, The Two Sisters, c. 1845, oil on canvas, Musée du Louvre, Paris. (Right) Anonymous, Portrait of Twin Sisters, c. 1848, colored daguerreotype, Musée d’Orsay, Paris. © Painting and Photography: 1839–1914 by Dominique de Font-Réaulx, Flammarion, 2013.]
[Many thanks to Rizzoli USA for providing me with the images above and a review copy of Dominique de Font-Réaulx’s Painting and Photography: 1839-1914.]
Evolution doesn't clean up after itself very well.
- An evolutionary biologist got people swapping ideas about our lingering vestigia.
- Basically, this is the stuff that served some evolutionary purpose at some point, but now is kind of, well, extra.
- Here are the six traits that inaugurated the fun.
The plica semilunaris<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NjgwMS9vcmlnaW4ucG5nIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3NDg5NTg1NX0.kdBYMvaEzvCiJjcLEPgnjII_KVtT9RMEwJFuXB68D8Q/img.png?width=980" id="59914" width="429" height="350" data-rm-shortcode-id="b11e4be64c5e1f58bf4417d8548bedc7" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
The human eye in alarming detail. Image source: Henry Gray / Wikimedia commons<p>At the inner corner of our eyes, closest to the nasal ridge, is that little pink thing, which is probably what most of us call it, called the caruncula. Next to it is the plica semilunairs, and it's what's left of a third eyelid that used to — ready for this? — blink horizontally. It's supposed to have offered protection for our eyes, and some birds, reptiles, and fish have such a thing.</p>
Palmaris longus<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NjgwNy9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzMzQ1NjUwMn0.dVor41tO_NeLkGY9Tx46SwqhSVaA8HZQmQAp532xLxA/img.jpg?width=980" id="879be" width="1920" height="2560" data-rm-shortcode-id="4089a32ea9fbb1a0281db14332583ccd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Palmaris longus muscle. Image source: Wikimedia commons<p> We don't have much need these days, at least most of us, to navigate from tree branch to tree branch. Still, about 86 percent of us still have the wrist muscle that used to help us do it. To see if you have it, place the back of you hand on a flat surface and touch your thumb to your pinkie. If you have a muscle that becomes visible in your wrist, that's the palmaris longus. If you don't, consider yourself more evolved (just joking).</p>
Darwin's tubercle<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NjgxMi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY0ODUyNjA1MX0.8RuU-OSRf92wQpaPPJtvFreOVvicEwn39_jnbegiUOk/img.jpg?width=980" id="687a0" width="819" height="1072" data-rm-shortcode-id="ff5edf0a698e0681d11efde1d7872958" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Darwin's tubercle. Image source: Wikimedia commons<p> Yes, maybe the shell of you ear does feel like a dried apricot. Maybe not. But there's a ridge in that swirly structure that's a muscle which allowed us, at one point, to move our ears in the direction of interesting sounds. These days, we just turn our heads, but there it is.</p>
Goosebumps<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NzMxNC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYyNzEyNTc2Nn0.aVMa5fsKgiabW5vkr7BOvm2pmNKbLJF_50bwvd4aRo4/img.jpg?width=980" id="d8420" width="1440" height="960" data-rm-shortcode-id="8827e55511c8c3aed8c36d21b6541dbd" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Goosebumps. Photo credit: Tyler Olson via Shutterstock<p>It's not entirely clear what purpose made goosebumps worth retaining evolutionarily, but there are two circumstances in which they appear: fear and cold. For fear, they may have been a way of making body hair stand up so we'd appear larger to predators, much the way a cat's tail puffs up — numerous creatures exaggerate their size when threatened. In the cold, they may have trapped additional heat for warmth.</p>
Tailbone<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NzMxNi9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTY3MzQwMjc3N30.nBGAfc_O9sgyK_lOUo_MHzP1vK-9kJpohLlj9ax1P8s/img.jpg?width=980" id="9a2f6" width="1440" height="1440" data-rm-shortcode-id="4fe28368d2ed6a91a4c928d4254cc02a" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Image source: Decade3d-anatomy online via Shutterstock<p>Way back, we had tails that probably helped us balance upright, and was useful moving through trees. We still have the stump of one when we're embryos, from 4–6 weeks, and then the body mostly dissolves it during Weeks 6–8. What's left is the coccyx.</p>
The palmar grasp reflex<img class="rm-lazyloadable-image rm-shortcode" type="lazy-image" data-runner-src="https://assets.rebelmouse.io/eyJhbGciOiJIUzI1NiIsInR5cCI6IkpXVCJ9.eyJpbWFnZSI6Imh0dHBzOi8vYXNzZXRzLnJibC5tcy8xOTA5NzMyMC9vcmlnaW4uanBnIiwiZXhwaXJlc19hdCI6MTYzNjY0MDY5NX0.OSwReKLmNZkbAS12-AvRaxgCM7zyukjQUaG4vmhxTtM/img.jpg?width=980" id="8804c" width="1440" height="960" data-rm-shortcode-id="67542ee1c5a85807b0a7e63399e44575" data-rm-shortcode-name="rebelmouse-image" />
Palmar reflex activated! Photo credit: Raul Luna on Flickr<p> You've probably seen how non-human primate babies grab onto their parents' hands to be carried around. We used to do this, too. So still, if you touch your finger to a baby's palm, or if you touch the sole of their foot, the palmar grasp reflex will cause the hand or foot to try and close around your finger.</p>
Other people's suggestions<p>Amir's followers dove right in, offering both cool and questionable additions to her list. </p>
Fangs?<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Lower mouth plate behind your teeth. Some have protruding bone under the skin which is a throw back to large fangs. Almost like an upsidedown Sabre Tooth.</p>— neil crud (@neilcrud66) <a href="https://twitter.com/neilcrud66/status/1085606005000601600?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Hiccups<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sure: <a href="https://t.co/DjMZB1XidG">https://t.co/DjMZB1XidG</a></p>— Stephen Roughley (@SteBobRoughley) <a href="https://twitter.com/SteBobRoughley/status/1085529239556968448?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Hypnic jerk as you fall asleep<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">What about when you “jump” just as you’re drifting off to sleep, I heard that was a reflex to prevent falling from heights.</p>— Bann face (@thebanns) <a href="https://twitter.com/thebanns/status/1085554171879788545?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script> <p> This thing, often called the "alpha jerk" as you drop into alpha sleep, is properly called the hypnic jerk,. It may actually be a carryover from our arboreal days. The <a href="https://www.livescience.com/39225-why-people-twitch-falling-asleep.html" target="_blank" data-vivaldi-spatnav-clickable="1">hypothesis</a> is that you suddenly jerk awake to avoid falling out of your tree.</p>
Nails screeching on a blackboard response?<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Everyone hate the sound of fingernails on a blackboard. It's _speculated_ that this is a vestigial wiring in our head, because the sound is similar to the shrill warning call of a chimp. <a href="https://t.co/ReyZBy6XNN">https://t.co/ReyZBy6XNN</a></p>— Pet Rock (@eclogiter) <a href="https://twitter.com/eclogiter/status/1085587006258888706?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Ear hair<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Ok what is Hair in the ears for? I think cuz as we get older it filters out the BS.</p>— Sarah21 (@mimix3) <a href="https://twitter.com/mimix3/status/1085684393593561088?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Nervous laughter<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">You may be onto something. Tooth-bearing with the jaw clenched is generally recognized as a signal of submission or non-threatening in primates. Involuntary smiling or laughing in tense situations might have signaled that you weren’t a threat.</p>— Jager Tusk (@JagerTusk) <a href="https://twitter.com/JagerTusk/status/1085316201104912384?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 15, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Um, yipes.<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-conversation="none" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Sometimes it feels like my big toe should be on the side of my foot, was that ever a thing?</p>— B033? K@($ (@whimbrel17) <a href="https://twitter.com/whimbrel17/status/1085559016011563009?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">January 16, 2019</a></blockquote> <script async src="https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Context is everything.
The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced a number of new behaviours into daily routines, like physical distancing, mask-wearing and hand sanitizing. Meanwhile, many old behaviours such as attending events, eating out and seeing friends have been put on hold.
A new study looks at how images of coffee's origins affect the perception of its premiumness and quality.
- Images can affect how people perceive the quality of a product.
- In a new study, researchers show using virtual reality that images of farms positively influence the subjects' experience of coffee.
- The results provide insights on the psychology and power of marketing.