15 July - 24 October 2010
Camille Silvy was a pioneer of early photography and one of the greatest French photographers of the nineteenth century. This exhibition includes many remarkable images which have not been exhibited since the 1860s.
Over 100 images, including a large number of carte de visites, focus on a ten-year creative burst from 1857-67 working in Algiers, rural France, Paris and London, and illustrate how Silvy pioneered many now familiar branches of the medium including theatre, fashion and street photography.
Working under the patronage of Queen Victoria, Silvy photographed royalty, aristocrats and celebrities. He also portrayed uncelebrated people, the professional classes and country gentry, their wives, children and servants. The results offer a unique glimpse into nineteenth-century society through the eyes of one of photography's outstanding innovators.
Exhibition organised by the Jeu de Paume, Paris, in collaboration with the National Portrait Gallery, London
Studies on Light: Twilight (detail), 1859
Private Collection, Paris
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Artist and sitter interviews
Get insights into creating portraiture from BP Portrait Award 2020 artists and their sitters.
Watch our film created to say ‘goodbye’ to the Gallery before we closed for our major transformation project.