Fantastic Factory

Early Art Photography

Eminent Portraitists

Reviewed are the efforts of several professional photo-portraitists and the proprietors of leading photographic studios, among them the two Russians Karl Migursky and Sergei Levitsky and the two Frenchmen Antoine Adam-Salomon and Adolphe-Eugene Disderi.

Described is the creative heritage of such gifted masters as David Octavius Hill, Robert Adamson and Julia Margaret Cameron in Great Britain, the Russian Andrei Denier and the two Frenchmen Nadar and Etienne Carjat. The styles of the leading photo-portraitists of the 1840s and subsequent decades are described.

Composition and Montage

By the mid-19th century artistically gifted photographers sought, like painters, to limn images of the "new reality" as they themselves imagined it, let alone produce "photographic images of the world". Portraitists evolved montages and intricate, metaphorical compositions marked by fantasy and allegory.

Instances are provided from the careers of Oscar Gustave Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson. Closely associated with this trend were the photographs of the mathematician and writer Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, better known as the Lewis Caroll of Alice in Wonderland fame.

Masters of Genre Photography

Described is the work of two Russian photographers, one, William Carrick of Scottish descent, the other, Andrei Karelin, both with an Academy education, who preferred unmontaged single-plate genre photography. The first, a portrait photographer who ran a studio in the then Russian capital of St. Petersburg, went out each year to Russia's Volga provinces to take pictures of "popular types" and "genre scenes". The other, who lived in Nizhny Novgorod, today the Volga city of Gorky, both photographed, especially between 1875 and 1885, and painted.

Along with their third confrere, the earlier-mentioned Andrei Denier, they got the country's artists deeply interested in photography's art potential. Thus, it was greatly appreciated by such leading painters as the landscapist Ivan Shishkin, Ivan Kramskoi, one of the driving spirits of the Peredvizhniki (Itinerants) school, and the noted Ilya Repin, of Volga Bargemen fame, who often employed photographs as preliminary sketches for their paintings. Russian art photography forged ahead, on a par with painting.