AUBRY (Roger, editor)

L'Epreuve photographique. Impressions en taille-douce. Reproductions d’œuvres photographiques originales. [1st and 2nd Series, all published].

Paris, Plon, Nourrit et Cie, n.d. (1904-1905).

Two volumes folio, grey illustrated publisher’s covers with Art Nouveau design. (1) Half-title, title, 2 unnumbered preface leaves by Emile Dacier, 48 photographic plates in photogravure, 1 unnumbered table leaf ; (2) half-title, title, 48 photographic plates in photogravure, 1 unnumbered table leaf. Together, 96 photographic plates mounted on coloured paper under protective captioned tissue guards. Cover, typography and ornaments by George Auriol (1863-1938). Complete.

First and only edition of an impressive Pictorialist publication.

Between 1890 and 1914, Pictorialism (from the English word “picture”) occupied an important place in the history of photography. The instigators of this movement wanted to bring photography into the realm of the fine arts. The aim was to offer a different way of portraying reality, giving pride of place to the artist’s sensibility.

The movement, which began in Europe, took off worldwide in 1900. Its development was made possible by the arrival on the market, as early as 1880, of new small-format, more manageable instant cameras capable of reaching a large amateur audience and facilitating the positioning of the artistic act at the heart of photographic practice. Pictorialists were interested in all subjects (portraits, landscapes, everyday scenes, architecture, etc.). Blurring effects, perspective and depth of field are favoured during the shooting process. Pictorialists also used “stripping” processes (charcoal, gum bichromate, oil) to soften, lighten or even erase certain parts of the image (Ref. La Mémoire des images, Bibliothèque cantonale et universitaire de Lausanne, Switzerland).

The first volume presents works by Alb. Yvon (3), C. Job (2), P. Dubreuil (2), René Le Bègue, A. Malle, Hermann Linck, Personnaz (3), Mlle C. Laguarde (2), Léon Bovier (2), Fred. Boissonnas, L. Misonne, Taponier, Chéri-Rousseau (2), A. Gilibert (2), Ach. Lemoine (2), Moynet, Vicomte P. de Singly, Paul Bergon (2), Louis Labat, Guido Rey, Livio Castellani, C. Puyo (2), Moreau, Sollet, Robert Demachy, G. Salle, Haweis et Coles, André Hachette, Schulz, G. Écalle, de Launay, Jules Seeberger, Arth. Da Cunha, Adelot and Maurice Bucquet.

The second volume features works by C. Job (3), Sollet, Fred. Boissonnas (2), Alb. Yvon (2), G. Besson, Mme G.A. Barton, Mlle A. Massion, Hermann Linck, R. Le Bègue, A. Turrino, L. Misonne (2), G. Roquerbe, Gain, A. Malle, A. Leroux, E. Wallon, C. Ménard, A. Boutique, Mlle C. Laguarde, Arning, Steichen (3, including plate no. 25: “Rodin: Le Penseur”), Gilibert (2), X*** (2), Fréchon (3), Bellieni, Alex. Keighley, G. Maury, J.B. Cordonnier, Guido Rey, G. Marissiaux (2), A. Nourrit, Personnaz, Latham, A. Lemoine, L. Rudaux and Petitot.

Fine preface by the French art historian and critic Émile Dacier (1876-1952), librarian and curator at the Bibliothèque nationale de France, on the state of artistic photography at the time.

A fine copy, despite occasional faint foxing, that does not affect the plates.

Ref. Auer, Photobooks, 88 (volume 1 only)