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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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Bernard Pras, Frida, Photography

Bernard Pras

Frida, 2021
106 x 88 x 2 cm


Léo  Caillard, Hipster in Stone VII, Hoplite, Photography

Léo Caillard

Hipster in Stone VII, Hoplite, 2017
80 x 120 cm


Stefanie Schneider, Something Imaginary (Heavenly Falls), Photography

Stefanie Schneider

Something Imaginary (Heavenly Falls), 2016
20 x 24 x 0.1 cm

€280 €400

Katarzyna Widmanska, Follow the white rabbit, Photography

Katarzyna Widmanska

Follow the white rabbit, 2015
60 x 40 cm


Detlev Schneider, Nenneh Cherry, Photography

Detlev Schneider

Nenneh Cherry, 1996
50 x 40 cm


Jan Saudek, Ost und West, 1945, Photography

Jan Saudek

Ost und West, 1945, 1998
20.2 x 15.1 cm


Nathalie Daoust, Riria, Photography

Nathalie Daoust

Riria, 2009
45 x 65 x 1 cm


Antonio Briceño, We from Series: I Am We - The Endless Journey, Photography

Antonio Briceño

We from Series: I Am We - The Endless Journey, 2020
22.5 x 75 cm


Robert van der Hilst, Chinese Interior #1, Photography

Robert van der Hilst

Chinese Interior #1, 2010
42 x 49 cm


Frantisek Drtikol, 2 women with bouquet of roses, Photography

Frantisek Drtikol

2 women with bouquet of roses, 1919
26 x 19 cm


Sergei Sviatchenko, Sergei Sviatchenko - Capacity For Conjuring Illusion 1, Photography

Sergei Sviatchenko

Sergei Sviatchenko - Capacity For Conjuring Illusion 1, 2013
36 x 26 cm


Peter Knapp, Zazie, Hamburg (stern), Photography

Peter Knapp

Zazie, Hamburg (stern), 1970
21 x 21 x 0.5 cm


Patrick  Van der Elst, L'homme-objet, Photography

Patrick Van der Elst

L'homme-objet, 2021
85 x 114 x 1 cm


Our recommendations Hassan Hajjaj, V.B.F., Photography

Hassan Hajjaj

V.B.F., 2011
72 x 48 x 1 cm


Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
27 x 21 x 0.2 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


Zakari Babel, Épreuve 8, Photography

Zakari Babel

Épreuve 8, 2015
24 x 36 x 0.5 cm


Nobuyoshi Araki, Sans Titre, Photography

Nobuyoshi Araki

Sans Titre, 2000
10.8 x 8.9 cm


Louis Oke-Agbo, Sans titre 1, Photography

Louis Oke-Agbo

Sans titre 1, 2018
30 x 40 x 0.2 cm


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Attrape cœur, Photography

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Attrape cœur, 2019
70 x 100 cm


Ka Xiaoxi, Windy Girls, Photography

Ka Xiaoxi

Windy Girls, 2012
40 x 60 x 0.4 cm


Charlotte Abramow, Find Your Clitoris II, Photography

Charlotte Abramow

Find Your Clitoris II, 2017
21 x 16 cm


Robert Longo, A Single Frame, Photography

Robert Longo

A Single Frame, 1995
20.5 x 25.5 x 0.2 cm


Our recommendations David Drebin, Photographing herself, Photography

David Drebin

Photographing herself, 2009
50 x 64 cm


Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #1, Photography

Karine Paoli

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


Monika Nowak, Crazy Stacy, Photography

Monika Nowak

Crazy Stacy, 2017
80 x 80 x 3 cm


Bruno Timmermans, Bowie +, Photography

Bruno Timmermans

Bowie +, 2011
100 x 100 cm


Zahrin Kahlo, Kelaa, Photography

Zahrin Kahlo

Kelaa, 2015
60 x 50 x 0.5 cm


Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

Un’isola nell’aria, 1975
50 x 60 x 0.1 cm


Alexis Berg, Kilian, Photography

Alexis Berg

Kilian, 2016
30 x 30 cm


Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
20 x 30 x 2 cm


Virginie Soubeiroux, Homeostasis, Photography

Virginie Soubeiroux

Homeostasis, 2017
180 x 100 cm


Ebuka Michael, Untitled, Photography

Ebuka Michael

Untitled, 2020
40 x 30 x 0.2 cm


John Yuyi, Pay 1, Photography

John Yuyi

Pay 1, 2018
50 x 40 x 0.1 cm


Su Yang, A Strange Encounter, Photography

Su Yang

A Strange Encounter, 2017
50 x 40 x 0.3 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


Our recommendations Pierre Schwartz, Victoire Montmorency, Photography

Pierre Schwartz

Victoire Montmorency, 2010
80 x 80 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


Nigentz, La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), Photography


La bande à Coyotte (Mexique), 2019
50 x 75 x 1 cm


Christophe Paucelier, Michel Desjoyeaux, Photography

Christophe Paucelier

Michel Desjoyeaux, 2008
60 x 40 x 0.1 cm


Elvira Carrasco, Medusa 1/5, Photography

Elvira Carrasco

Medusa 1/5, 2017
100 x 74 x 4 cm


Laetitia Lesaffre, De-Sol-Es, enfance exilée n°1, Photography

Laetitia Lesaffre

De-Sol-Es, enfance exilée n°1, 2017
50 x 50 x 4 cm


Li Hui, Untitled, Photography

Li Hui

Untitled, 2015
40 x 50 x 3 cm


Feng Wang, Beetle I, Photography

Feng Wang

Beetle I, 2021
50 x 60 x 1 cm

€1,170 €1,300

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


Vincent Carpentier, Lutteurs#1 (LK), Photography

Vincent Carpentier

Lutteurs#1 (LK), 2019
90 x 90 x 2.5 cm


Larry Clark, Sans titre 3 (Jonathan), Photography

Larry Clark

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


Maud Bernos, François Gabart, Photography

Maud Bernos

François Gabart, 2013
15 x 15 cm


Daniele Sigalot, Self portrait on the gulf on Naples, Photography

Daniele Sigalot

Self portrait on the gulf on Naples, 2019
60 x 90 cm


Serge  Delaune, Portrait, Photography

Serge Delaune

Portrait, 2008
62 x 52 x 3 cm


Tomaas, Vegan beauty, Photography


Vegan beauty, 2014
60 x 51 cm


Nicolas Demeersman, Le Chaman - Nazca Line, Pérou, Photography

Nicolas Demeersman

Le Chaman - Nazca Line, Pérou, 2011
100 x 100 cm


Clément Poitrenaud, Luke McAlister, Photography

Clément Poitrenaud

Luke McAlister, 2015
30 x 30 x 0.1 cm


Samuel Lugassy, Hristina, Photography

Samuel Lugassy

Hristina, 2013
80 x 65 x 1 cm


Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
125 x 85 cm


Shen Yongji, Eventually Unified to the Original, Photography

Shen Yongji

Eventually Unified to the Original, 2015
90 x 110 x 1 cm


Yions Schwenke, Setting, Photography

Yions Schwenke

Setting, 2015
120 x 80 x 2 cm


Franck Doat, Chanel Autrement - Hommage à William Klein / Gainsbarre, Photography

Franck Doat

Chanel Autrement - Hommage à William Klein / Gainsbarre, 2021
30 x 25 x 0.1 cm


Jurgen Schadeberg, Botswana Beer Festival, Photography

Jurgen Schadeberg

Botswana Beer Festival, 1973
47 x 60 cm


Muriel Deumie, Dans la machine, Photography

Muriel Deumie

Dans la machine, 2021
80 x 60 x 1 cm

€413 €550

Claudio Abate, Untitled, Photography

Claudio Abate

Untitled, 1989
40 x 29 x 0.01 cm


60 Artworks on 4849

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