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Gustave Le Gray - The Great 19th Century French Photographer

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Clouds and Sky - Le Gray

Another black and white image of Gustave Le Gray's work.  It is so beautiful.  Also, I love the perspective, etc.  Albumen print.

Another black and white image of Gustave Le Gray's work. It is so beautiful. Also, I love the perspective, etc. Albumen print.

Self Portrait Of Gustave Le Gray

By Gustave Le Gray, who lived from 1820 through 1884.  This is a cropped form of the photo.  Image in the public domain.

By Gustave Le Gray, who lived from 1820 through 1884. This is a cropped form of the photo. Image in the public domain.

Gallery Of Images by French Photographer Gustave Le Gray

Early photography was a unique art. This is a celebration of an amazing French photographer, Gustave Le Gray. The range of subject matter as well as his growth as a photographer can be seen in his images.

Le Gray was trained as a painter who eventually held some exhibitions, and later taught and inspired. He studied art under Paul Delaroche, and Francois Edouard Picot. Later he turned to photography. Photography was still a relatively new medium at the time and Le Gray had some interesting technical innovations to bring to the table. Not only that, he became an amazing teacher to others wanting to learn photography, some having become rather notable.

Some of the noted photographers that he taught were Olympe Aguado, Maxime Du Camp, Charles Negre, and Henri Le Secq. It is probably fair to say he continues to inspire to this day.

Le Gray made his daguerreotypes by 1847, and they included scenes of nature, buildings of all kinds, and portraits. Later he traveled to various places and caught some amazing images that got him some real publicity, like Palermo under Sicilian bombing during skirmishes with revolutionary forces, etc. So you can see he has a wide range of subject matter that he dealt with while photography was still in its infancy really.

If you have the time to look up the information on his life, there are some interesting twists and turns, ups and downs. He made a living for instance being a professor of drawing, and also made some money with his own little photography shop. It is said that he probably died July 30th, 1884 in Cairo, Egypt.

Gustave Le Gray has been known to bring a lot of imagination to photography in his time. He is a great study to those that love the history of photography. My hope is that you get a feel for Gustave Le Gray's works as you look at his photography through the lens of what he had in the time in which he lived.

Le Gray's pictures tell a story of their own, and seem to really capture the light and shadows, detail, feeling, and texture of many of his subjects. There are several images to small to really appreciate. To ensure that you see all images in a larger format, make sure to click on the smaller thumbnails or view the slide show. My hope is that you get a feel for this artistic photographer just by looking at some of the things he captured, and how he did it.

Castle and Port - Gustave Le Gray

Brest Gustave Le Gray - 1858.  A spectacular image and subject.

Brest Gustave Le Gray - 1858. A spectacular image and subject.

Paris Palais du Louvre - Pavillon Molien - Gustave Le Gray 1859

Albumen Print,  Height: 36.7 cm (14.4 in). Width: 47.9 cm (18.9 in).  There is a red ink stamp in lower right corner of print that reads "Gustave LeGray."

Albumen Print, Height: 36.7 cm (14.4 in). Width: 47.9 cm (18.9 in). There is a red ink stamp in lower right corner of print that reads "Gustave LeGray."

City of Uzerche, Corrèze in France, By Gustave Le Gray

I find this one to be absolutely fascinating, with the river and bridge in the corner, to the details of the windows on the buildings.  Very beautiful and interesting, and so much texture.

I find this one to be absolutely fascinating, with the river and bridge in the corner, to the details of the windows on the buildings. Very beautiful and interesting, and so much texture.

More About Gustave Le Gray - Paper Photography and More

Gustave Le Gray was looking for ways to get better quality images with his photos, "crispier" images. As you can see from many of the images shared here, that he seemed to achieve sharper images over time. He used paper, waxed paper, salt, etc and different effects were achieved. He predicted that the "entire future of photography is on paper." He began experimenting with different variations in 1847. He found that paper negatives needed to be waxed prior to sensitization to yield better images, for example.

Le Gray, with his artistic background, his passion for photography, ability to travel and his drive to experiment and grow, he brought so much to us today. I am thankful for his perspective on life (as seen through his lense), and how he captured such a wide range of images so well and so artistically. From castles to train stations, and famous portraits to the humble tree, he was an incredible photographer worth remembering.

Gustave Le Gray - Poll

© 2014 Paula

Comments

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on December 17, 2014:

PsychGeek, I am so glad you liked the photos, and learned something new! I was impressed because of the fact he took these in the 19th century, and didn't have what we do at our disposal today. I'm glad you stopped by and commented, thank you!

Paula (author) from The Midwest, USA on December 17, 2014:

Lions, I too love the photo of the port, and was blown away by what he could accomplish in the 1850s. I came across his work, and had also never heard of him before and decided to do some research and look at his other images and story. I am glad you stopped by and looked and commented, thank you!

Fiona Guy from UK on December 16, 2014:

These are such wonderful photographs. I have learnt so much reading this, I was not aware of this photographer before. Great Hub, thank you for sharing with us! Voted up.

CJ Kelly from the PNW on December 02, 2014:

I had not heard of Mr. Le Gray. Those were extraordinary shots, especially the one of the port. The way he captured light with a black and white shot in the 1850s! Thx very much. Voted up and shared.