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Camille Silvy: Photographer of Modern Life 1834–1910


Pub. date: July 2010
Price: £25
ISBN: 978185514415 6
Format: 270 x 216mm
Extent: 160 pages
Illustrations: Over 100
Binding: Hardback
Category: Photography/Monograph

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out of print

Mark Haworth-Booth

This compelling account of Camille Silvy's life and photography is published to mark the centenary of his death and the first retrospective of his work in Paris and London. With hitherto unseen material, Mark Haworth-Booth presents Silvy as an extraordinarily modern photographer of great talent and originality.

Mark Haworth Booth's recent research reveals Camille Silvy (1834­-1910) as one of the most original photographers of his time. More than any other nineteenth-century photographer, Silvy exemplifies Charles Baudelaire's idea of the artist as an interpreter of modern life. Photographing modern people in modern dress was a new phenomenon and, with analysis of the origins of the carte-de-visite format, this book explores Silvy's pioneering efforts to master industrial scale portrait production alongside fine art photography in his fashionable London studio.

Before moving to London, Silvy was well-represented in the first Paris Salon of Photography in Spring 1859. His River Scene, France (1858) can be understood as a tableau of modern leisure - including working class leisure - on the outskirts of town. New light will be shed on this master photograph as well as on Silvy's Studies on Light, (1859). These studies of fog, twilight and sunshine include original views of London streets as well as stylistic innovations.

By combining research into both Silvy's exhibition prints, still-life and street scenes, as well as the intimate beautifully lit and posed cartes-de-visite, this book demonstrates Silvy was one of the most original and fashionable photographers of his time, and transformed portrait photography from an art into an industry.


Mark Haworth-Booth is a renowned historian and curator of photography. Formerly Senior Curator of Photographs at the Victoria and Albert Museum, where he worked from 1970 to 2004, he served as Visiting Professor of Photography at the University of the Arts, London from 2003 to 2010 and holds a number of research fellowships. He worked on this book as a guest scholar at the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.