Charles Nègre, ‘Versant de la colline avec cascade et personnage (Slope of the hill with waterfall and figure)’, circa 1865, Phillips

From the Catalogue:
This surprisingly unconventional landscape view by Charles Nègre was made from a glass negative and illustrates the photographer’s proficiency with this relatively new process. He had previously achieved remarkable results with paper negatives, but his transition to glass allowed him to achieve far greater detail in his images. He fully exploits this ability in the photograph offered here, which presents a chaotic and captivating profusion of detail. Close examination of the image shows two small but crisply defined figures: one seated upon a rock just below the waterfall, and the other seated in the lower left portion of the image. The photograph’s deliberate lack of a horizon, which flattens and abstracts the topography, is a strikingly modern attribute. It is similar in execution and effect to the landscapes Frederick Sommer would undertake in the American West a full century later.

This photograph comes originally from the collection of pioneering photography collector and dealer André Jammes, who acquired the definitive archive of Nègre’s work from a descendent in the 1950s. It is through Jammes that the work of this important and formative photographer became known in the 20th century. Jammes’s beautifully-produced 1963 book Charles Nègre Photographe: 1820-1880 reintroduced Nègre to the world and opened his work to study. The important publications on Nègre by James Borcoman and Françoise Heilbrun in the 1970s and 1980s owe their existence to Jammes’s discovery, as does our current understanding of Nègre’s place in the canon of 19th-century photographers.
Courtesy of Phillips

Signature: Credit and collection notation by André Jammes in pencil on the verso.

Charles Nègre 1820-1880, National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, 1976

Collection of Marie-Thérèse and André Jammes, Paris
Sotheby's, Paris, La Photographie III: Collection Marie-Thérèse et André Jammes, L'Oeuvre de Charles Négre, 22 March 2002, lot 499

About Charles Nègre