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Portrait Photography

In the 1830s, Nièpce discovered the process for setting images onto pewter plates. In 1833, upon Nièpce’s death, Louis Daguerre and François Arago continued his experiments and invented the daguerreotype, a process which created a printed image on a silver plate that had been exposed to light. Photography was born.

Similarly to how portrait painting had dominated artistic output in previous centuries, portrait photography was to become the pillar of the Second French Empire’s photographic industry. Lenses with a shorter focal length, which enabled reduced exposure times, gradually appear on the market. The required equipment was expensive and difficult to handle. Some photographers, called daguerreotypists, decided to open their own photography studios to make a profit from their endeavours. The daguerreotype process was temperamental, and photographers had to take their pictures with great precision and attention to detail. They welcomed many people into their studios and customers choose how they wished to be photographed from catalogue of poses. Originally only accessible to the bourgeoisie, lower prices resulting from the growing number of studios eventually attracted a wider customer base. This phenomenon infuriated the poet Charles Baudelaire who was frustrated by the sense of narcissism sparked by the daguerreotypists.

Despite his protests, the egotistical trend only grew with the emergence of ‘carte de visite’ portraits (small photographs, the size of today’s business cards). These were the brainchild of Adolphe Eugène Disdéri came up with the idea of producing portraits akin to visiting cards in 1859. He printed eight portraits in a variety of poses onto a single plate and once developed they could be cut up into eight distinct “visiting cards”. Very popular with the bourgeoisie, they highlighted the sitters’ social status. ‘Carte de visite’ portraits featuring celebrities were also sold to customers, who could subsequently add them to their albums.

The photographer Nadar was one of the first to demonstrate a conscious artistic approach to producing these portraits. He emphasised facial expressions and ensured the sitter was comfortable and at ease before taking the photograph. He photographed the era’s greatest thinkers and artists, including Honoré de Balzac, George Sand, and Victor Hugo. He even managed to reconcile Baudelaire with portraiture.

At the end of the 19th century, the art of photography started to enter the mainstream, with the arrival of the Kodak company. The use of the camera, and the taking of portraits, became everyday occurrences. A century later, it was the invention of the digital camera which challenged the status quo. Whereas before alterations could only be made to photographs when they were being taken or developed, with the digital camera editing became easier, quicker and more convenient. Digital photography has given photographers much more freedom when it comes to editing and new methods and techniques are constantly being explored.

Some of the photographers who have left their mark on the last century include: Cindy Sherman, who excelled in self-portraits, Annie Leibovitz, who captured celebrities, the wacky duo, Pierre and Gilles, as well as Diane Arbus, Irving Penn, Richard Avedon, Helmut Newton, and Bettina Rheims.

So, do portraits help us to learn more about each other, to remember, to invent, to act, or to reconnect with ourselves? Find out on Artsper, by exploring the works of Formento & Formento, Naomi Vona, Ahmed Bennani, Chou Ching Hui, Samuel Cueto, Brno del Zou, Ren Hang, Markus + Indrani, Jerome Liebling as well as Annina Roescheisen.

Collector’s Guide: Collecting Fine Art Photographs

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Hunter & Gatti, Le Fauteuil de l'oubli, Photography

Hunter & Gatti

Le Fauteuil de l'oubli, 2020
76 x 61 x 0.3 cm


Ifig, Rose, the pink panther, Photography


Rose, the pink panther, 2021
60 x 60 cm


Monika Nowak, Who's That Guy, Photography

Monika Nowak

Who's That Guy, 2015
140 x 70 x 2 cm


Grzegorz Sikorski, Need a ride?, Photography

Grzegorz Sikorski

Need a ride?, 2018
50 x 66.5 x 0.1 cm


Jean-Michel Voge, Fanny Ardant, Photography

Jean-Michel Voge

Fanny Ardant, 1990
61 x 43.2 cm


Alexander Benz, Look Look, Photography

Alexander Benz

Look Look, 2021
80 x 80 x 0.1 cm


Mercedes Cosano, Méduses 14, Photography

Mercedes Cosano

Méduses 14, 2019
40 x 40 cm


Maisha Marshallende, Frash-a-Dash, Photography

Maisha Marshallende

Frash-a-Dash, 2020
90 x 60 x 3 cm


Edouard Partoes, Le voyage en camion, Photography

Edouard Partoes

Le voyage en camion, 2018
40 x 50 cm


William Helburn, Greenwich Village, Photography

William Helburn

Greenwich Village, 1958
137.2 x 111.8 cm


Fudgie Kaye, Eternel Retour, Photography

Fudgie Kaye

Eternel Retour, 2021
41 x 48 x 0.2 cm


Franz Winzinger, Christian Lattier Portrait, Photography

Franz Winzinger

Christian Lattier Portrait, 1953
17.5 x 16.5 cm

$821 $5,863

Bert Stern, Marilyn Monroe: The Last Sitting Portfolio 4, Photography

Bert Stern

Marilyn Monroe: The Last Sitting Portfolio 4, 1962
61 x 61 cm


Bernard Pras, Inventaire 100 - Cat Carnaval, Photography

Bernard Pras

Inventaire 100 - Cat Carnaval, 2010
160 x 120 cm


Derrick Ofosu Boateng, Untilted, Photography

Derrick Ofosu Boateng

Untilted, 2021
40 x 30 cm


Man Ray, Untitled Portrait of Female, Photography

Man Ray

Untitled Portrait of Female, 1940
25.7 x 26 cm


Zakari Babel, Épreuve 8, Photography

Zakari Babel

Épreuve 8, 2015
24 x 36 x 0.5 cm


John Kenny, Merayun, Photography

John Kenny

Merayun, 2019
67 x 45 x 2 cm


Samuel Cueto, Silence, Photography

Samuel Cueto

Silence, 2014
50 x 40 cm


Feng Kaixuan, Cheveux d'encre photo, Photography

Feng Kaixuan

Cheveux d'encre photo, 2012
30 x 45 x 1 cm


Our recommendations Lucien Clergue, Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, Photography

Lucien Clergue

Picasso Preside la Corrida - Frejus, 1962, 1962
45.7 x 55.9 cm


Nobuyoshi Araki, Sans Titre, Photography

Nobuyoshi Araki

Sans Titre, 2000
10.8 x 8.9 cm


Charlotte Abramow, Rouge sur Blanc, Photography

Charlotte Abramow

Rouge sur Blanc, 2018
10 x 15 cm


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Attrape cœur, Photography

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Attrape cœur, 2019
70 x 100 cm


Aleix  Plademunt, Julia, Photography

Aleix Plademunt

Julia, 2013
40 x 30 x 5 cm


Bruno Fournier, Sans titre I, Photography

Bruno Fournier

Sans titre I, 2017
60 x 90 x 3 cm


Léa Bon, Lady of Naggaroth 1, Photography

Léa Bon

Lady of Naggaroth 1, 2013
91.4 x 61 x 0.3 cm


Fabienne Cresens, La montée des eaux, Photography

Fabienne Cresens

La montée des eaux, 2018
100 x 100 cm


Thandiwe Muriu, Camo 2.0 4415, Photography

Thandiwe Muriu

Camo 2.0 4415, 2018
90 x 60 x 0.3 cm


Nathalie Roux, Barbiturique, Photography

Nathalie Roux

Barbiturique, 2019
114 x 76 x 2 cm


Ceridwen Raynor, Captured by the Wind, Photography

Ceridwen Raynor

Captured by the Wind, 2019
75 x 75 cm


Monica Denevan, Anchor, Photography

Monica Denevan

Anchor, 2013
40 x 50 cm


Our recommendations David Drebin, Photographing herself, Photography

David Drebin

Photographing herself, 2009
50 x 64 cm


Katarzyna Widmanska, The Hatter, Photography

Katarzyna Widmanska

The Hatter, 2009
60 x 40 cm


Leni Riefenstahl, Der Sieger (Sieger), Photography

Leni Riefenstahl

Der Sieger (Sieger), 1936
49.8 x 37.5 cm


Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #1, 1993
122 x 76 x 3 cm


Ka Xiaoxi, Windy Girls, Photography

Ka Xiaoxi

Windy Girls, 2012
40 x 60 x 0.4 cm


Natasha Zupan, Eternal Recurrence #48, Photography

Natasha Zupan

Eternal Recurrence #48, 2015
35.6 x 29.2 cm


Christophe Battifero, The Game, Photography

Christophe Battifero

The Game, 2020
40 x 30 x 1 cm


Thomas Dellert, Motown Record Store   Detroit  USA, Photography

Thomas Dellert

Motown Record Store Detroit USA, 2016
40 x 60 x 1 cm


Guilherme Licurgo, Blooming Flower I - Desert Flower, Medium Print, Photography

Guilherme Licurgo

Blooming Flower I - Desert Flower, Medium Print, 2014
88.9 x 58.4 x 0.3 cm


Mikael Kenta, Coke, Photography

Mikael Kenta

Coke, 2016
105 x 70 x 0.3 cm


Virginie Soubeiroux, Homeostasis, Photography

Virginie Soubeiroux

Homeostasis, 2017
180 x 100 cm


Jacques Bosser, Chotto, Photography

Jacques Bosser

Chotto, 2006
30 x 30 cm


Bruno Timmermans, Bowie +, Photography

Bruno Timmermans

Bowie +, 2011
100 x 100 cm


Paul Citroen, Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed  in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, Photography

Paul Citroen

Self-Portrait, Silver Gelatin Print, Signed in Pencil -Printed later Unframed, 1930
23.7 x 18 x 0.3 cm


Rose Hartman, Dianne Brill, Mudd Club, 1980s, Photography

Rose Hartman

Dianne Brill, Mudd Club, 1980s, 2021
91.4 x 61 x 0.3 cm


Stéphane Veerecken, On the Moon 1 - série femmes en noir, Photography

Stéphane Veerecken

On the Moon 1 - série femmes en noir, 2020
40 x 30 x 2 cm


Christopher Makos, Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, Photography

Christopher Makos

Andy Warhol and Keith Haring, 1983
38.1 x 48.3 cm


Su Yang, A Strange Encounter, Photography

Su Yang

A Strange Encounter, 2017
50 x 40 x 0.3 cm


John Yuyi, Pay 1, Photography

John Yuyi

Pay 1, 2018
50 x 40 x 0.1 cm


Yagazie Emezi, When Did A Piece Fall Off #1, Photography

Yagazie Emezi

When Did A Piece Fall Off #1, 2016
59.4 x 84.1 cm


Feng Wang, Beetle I, Photography

Feng Wang

Beetle I, 2021
50 x 60 x 1 cm


Larry Clark, Sans titre 3 (Jonathan), Photography

Larry Clark

Sans titre 3 (Jonathan), 2005
23 x 17 x 0.02 cm


Marta Pinilla, Alégrame esas pascuas /  Make this Easter Happy, Photography

Marta Pinilla

Alégrame esas pascuas / Make this Easter Happy, 2018
27.9 x 42.9 x 2 cm


Songlin Ji, Manger la montagne no.1, Photography

Songlin Ji

Manger la montagne no.1, 2020
50 x 70 x 1 cm


Zahrin Kahlo, Kelaa, Photography

Zahrin Kahlo

Kelaa, 2015
60 x 50 x 0.5 cm


Our recommendations Angélique, White Spirit I, Photography


White Spirit I, 2005
50 x 40 cm


Chris Saunders, Nozinja, Photography

Chris Saunders

Nozinja, 2012
70 x 50 x 1 cm


Nontsikelelo Veleko, Thabo, Photography

Nontsikelelo Veleko

Thabo, 2004
37 x 26 x 1 cm


Louis Held, Untitled P-93, Photography

Louis Held

Untitled P-93, 1930
10.7 x 16.5 x 0.3 cm


Wylda Bayrón, Bienvenidos, Photography

Wylda Bayrón

Bienvenidos, 2015
40 x 60 cm


Maripol, Madonna 'Everybody', Photography


Madonna 'Everybody', 1983
61 x 61 cm


Christophe Paucelier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Photography

Christophe Paucelier

Michel Desjoyeaux, 2008
60 x 40 x 0.1 cm


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