New York University Skip to Content Skip to Search Skip to Navigation Skip to Sub Navigation

Little-Known Aspect of Early Photographic History Exhibited at NYU’s La Maison Francaise: Unique French Hand-Painted Photographs, C. 1841-1889

December 2, 2009
n-166, 2009-10

The one-of-a-kind Sara Cleary-Burns Collection of hand-painted photographs, produced in Paris in the late 19th century, is on view for the first time in the United States at New York University’s La Maison Francaise (16 Washington Mews) - through December 18. These images reveal the partnership of French painters and photographers at the beginning of a new art form.

In 1839, Frenchman Louis Daguerre presented the first permanent form of photography, the daguerreotype, a one of a kind photograph fixed directly onto a silver-coated plate. The French government purchased the patent and made the invention freely available to the world. The English calotype or salt print process, which created a negative that could produce numerous reproductions, soon followed.

Artists often regarded photography with ambivalence. Renoir called it “both a great good and a great evil, as it freed painting from a lot of tiresome chores, starting with family portraits. Now the shopkeeper who wants his portrait has only to go to the photographer. So much the worse for us, but so much better for the art of painting.”

Photographers, many of whom had been trained as painters, learned to alter their images by manipulating the negatives or hand-coloring the final product. The addition of color was considered a natural step toward a more realistic rendering.

The portraits on view are early French over-painted photographs in their original frames, produced between 1841 and 1889. During this time the genre developed an increased sophistication: props were added, sitters were asked to adopt more “artistic” poses, and over-painting reached new technical heights. As the practice grew, and the images became larger, it was not unusual for over-painted photographs to be presented as original paintings.

France was the only country to have a standardized frame format for painted photographs, and, in most cases, as is true of the images in this exhibition, the creations were signed and/or labeled on the back.

The gallery is open M-F, 10:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Occasionally, however, it is closed for university events. Please call to verify hours: 212.998.8750.

This Press Release is in the following Topics:
Events and Traditions

Type: Press Release

Press Contact: Robert Polner | (212) 998-2337

frhandpaintpics

Search News



NYU In the News

NYU Offers Financial Aid to Undocumented Students

The Wall Street Journal reported that NYU will begin offering scholarship aid to undocumented students for the school year beginning next September.

NYU Adopts Lean LaunchPad Program to Teach Entrepreneurship

Startup guru Steve Blank, in a Huffington Post blog, described how NYU adopted the Lean LaunchPad model to teach entrepreneurship to students and faculty at NYU.

Biology Professor Jane Carlton Examines Wastewater for the City’s Microbiome

The New York Times’ Science Times column “Well” profiled Biology Professor Jane Carlton and her research project to sequence microbiome of New York City by examining wastewater samples.

Steinhardt Professors Use a Play as Therapy

The New York Times wrote about a play written by Steinhardt Music Professor Robert Landy about the relationship between Adjunct Professor Cecilia Dintino, a clinical psychologist in the Drama Therapy Program, and a patient, former Broadway actress Jill Powell.

NYU Public Health Experts Urge Strengthening Local Health Systems to Combat Ebola

Dean Cheryl Healton of the Global Institute of Public Health and Public Health Professor Christopher Dickey wrote an op-ed in the Huffington Post saying international health agencies need to strengthen their presence in countries at the local level to prevent future ebola outbreaks.

NYU Footer