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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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Julie Lagier, Laisse moi rêver, Photography

Julie Lagier

Laisse moi rêver, 2019
90 x 90 cm


Léo  Caillard, Hipster 20s VII, Aristeus, Photography

Léo Caillard

Hipster 20s VII, Aristeus, 2017
120 x 80 cm


Laetitia Lesaffre, DE-SOL-ES, enfance exilée n° 13, Photography

Laetitia Lesaffre

DE-SOL-ES, enfance exilée n° 13, 2017
90 x 60 x 4 cm


John Kenny, Malasso, Photography

John Kenny

Malasso, 2009
67 x 45 x 2 cm


Cécile Plaisance, Steve & Faye, Photography

Cécile Plaisance

Steve & Faye, 2017
95 x 125 x 5 cm


Svetlana Melik-Nubarova, La petite Sainte Coquette, Photography

Svetlana Melik-Nubarova

La petite Sainte Coquette, 2018
50.8 x 40.6 cm

$893 $1,004

Michal Zahornacky, Curves #2, Photography

Michal Zahornacky

Curves #2, 2019
60 x 60 x 0.3 cm


Alexander Benz, Styled, Photography

Alexander Benz

Styled, 2021
40 x 40 x 0.2 cm


Mathieu Puga, Les pensées, Photography

Mathieu Puga

Les pensées, 2021
75 x 50 x 0.01 cm


Marino Parisotto, La Douce Obsession Totale 6_bw, Photography

Marino Parisotto

La Douce Obsession Totale 6_bw, 2016
30 x 40 cm


Natasha Zupan, Eternal Recurrence #63, Photo collage with intervention by the artist, Photography

Natasha Zupan

Eternal Recurrence #63, Photo collage with intervention by the artist, 2015
152.4 x 121.9 x 0.3 cm


Monica Denevan, Convergence, Photography

Monica Denevan

Convergence, 2011
87 x 87 cm


Emanuele Cucuzza, WhatEyeAm I, Photography

Emanuele Cucuzza

WhatEyeAm I, 2011
90 x 60 cm


Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev, From the Kremlin Series, Photography

Vladimir Clavijo-Telepnev

From the Kremlin Series, 2015
80 x 80 x 2 cm


Philip Provily, Rosa, Photography

Philip Provily

Rosa, 2000
49.4 x 38 x 0.1 cm


Anne Dias, Quadrichromy woman, Photography

Anne Dias

Quadrichromy woman, 2021
135 x 99 x 0.1 cm


Andreas Fux, Nico in der Wueste, Photography

Andreas Fux

Nico in der Wueste, 1997
37.5 x 56 cm


Jean-Michel Voge, Dee Dee Bridgewater and Daughter China Moses, Paris, Photography

Jean-Michel Voge

Dee Dee Bridgewater and Daughter China Moses, Paris, 1987
61 x 43.2 cm


Jacques Torregano, Les Matadors, 'El Juli', feria de Pentecôte, Nîmes, Photography

Jacques Torregano

Les Matadors, 'El Juli', feria de Pentecôte, Nîmes, 1998
50 x 68 x 1 cm


Franz West, Platonic Moon, Photography

Franz West

Platonic Moon, 2003
30 x 42.7 x 1 cm


Sylvie Teissier, Zone Rouge, Photography

Sylvie Teissier

Zone Rouge, 2020
60 x 40 x 1 cm


Axel Pilyser, L'initié, Photography

Axel Pilyser

L'initié, 2020
80 x 53 cm


Bernard Pras, 236. Clint, Photography

Bernard Pras

236. Clint, 2021
90 x 90 x 3 cm


Our recommendations Feng Kaixuan, Don de soi 5, Photography

Feng Kaixuan

Don de soi 5, 2015
60 x 90 x 1 cm


Ghost Art, Scarface, Photography

Ghost Art

Scarface, 2019
100 x 100 x 1 cm


Monika Nowak, Crazy Stacy, Photography

Monika Nowak

Crazy Stacy, 2017
80 x 80 x 3 cm


Man Ray, Portrait of Francis Picabia, Photography

Man Ray

Portrait of Francis Picabia, 1935
27 x 21 x 0.2 cm


Françoise Dugourd-Caput, Attrape cœur, Photography

Françoise Dugourd-Caput

Attrape cœur, 2019
70 x 100 cm


Robert Longo, A Single Frame, Photography

Robert Longo

A Single Frame, 1995
20.5 x 25.5 x 0.2 cm


Zakari Babel, Épreuve 8, Photography

Zakari Babel

Épreuve 8, 2015
24 x 36 x 0.5 cm


Helmut Newton, Père Lachaise, Paris 1977, Photography

Helmut Newton

Père Lachaise, Paris 1977, 1980
41 x 27 cm


Ebuka Michael, Bad Habits - Greed, Photography

Ebuka Michael

Bad Habits - Greed, 2019
40 x 30 x 0.2 cm


Maud Chalard, Lost & Found, Photography

Maud Chalard

Lost & Found, 2019
20 x 30 x 2 cm


Jacques Bosser, Calintz, Photography

Jacques Bosser

Calintz, 2009
80 x 65 x 3 cm


Jorg Karg, Pont Neuf - Small Format, Photography

Jorg Karg

Pont Neuf - Small Format, 2017
80 x 60 x 3 cm


Bert Stern, Marilyn in Vogue (1962), Photography

Bert Stern

Marilyn in Vogue (1962), 2011
48 x 33 x 1 cm


Thandiwe Muriu, Camo 2.0 3953, Photography

Thandiwe Muriu

Camo 2.0 3953, 2015
90 x 60 x 0.3 cm


Mutines, Lily smoke, Photography


Lily smoke, 2019
75 x 50 x 0.5 cm


Charlotte Abramow, Find Your Clitoris II, Photography

Charlotte Abramow

Find Your Clitoris II, 2017
60 x 46.5 cm


Bruno Fournier, Sans titre 3, Photography

Bruno Fournier

Sans titre 3, 2017
60 x 90 x 3 cm


Virginie Soubeiroux, Homeostasis, Photography

Virginie Soubeiroux

Homeostasis, 2017
180 x 100 cm


Delphine Diallo, Warrior Bloodline, Photography

Delphine Diallo

Warrior Bloodline, 2018
70 x 50 x 2 cm


Our recommendations Karine Paoli, Têtes d'Affiches #3, Photography

Karine Paoli

Têtes d'Affiches #3, 2001
122 x 76 x 3 cm


Bruno Timmermans, Bowie +, Photography

Bruno Timmermans

Bowie +, 2011
100 x 100 cm


John Yuyi, Pay 3, Photography

John Yuyi

Pay 3, 2018
90 x 60 x 0.4 cm


Zahrin Kahlo, Kelaa, Photography

Zahrin Kahlo

Kelaa, 2015
60 x 50 x 0.5 cm


Philippe Echaroux, Elza Surui, Photography

Philippe Echaroux

Elza Surui, 2016
100 x 150 x 3 cm


Tomaas, Almost Human, Photography


Almost Human, 2018
120 x 80 cm


Urs Lüthi, Un’isola nell’aria, Photography

Urs Lüthi

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


Anthony Mirial, Blessures de guerre, Photography

Anthony Mirial

Blessures de guerre, 2015
125 x 85 cm


Ka Xiaoxi, Windy Girls, Photography

Ka Xiaoxi

Windy Girls, 2012
40 x 60 x 0.4 cm


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

Nicolas Demeersman

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


Louis Oke-Agbo, Sans titre 1, Photography

Louis Oke-Agbo

Sans titre 1, 2018
30 x 40 x 0.2 cm


Su Yang, A Strange Encounter, Photography

Su Yang

A Strange Encounter, 2017
50 x 40 x 0.3 cm


Claudio Abate, Untitled, Photography

Claudio Abate

Untitled, 1989
40 x 29 x 0.01 cm


Maud Bernos, François Gabart, Photography

Maud Bernos

François Gabart, 2013
15 x 15 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


Roger Moukarzel, Covered head, Photography

Roger Moukarzel

Covered head, 2013
80 x 70 cm


Elvira Carrasco, Raspberry 2/7, Photography

Elvira Carrasco

Raspberry 2/7, 2017
135 x 100 x 4 cm


Songlin Ji, Manger la montagne no.1, Photography

Songlin Ji

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


Justin Dingwall, Three Marys II, Photography

Justin Dingwall

Three Marys II, 2016
90 x 70 x 1 cm

10,000 - $ 15,000

Shen Yongji, Eventually Unified to the Original, Photography

Shen Yongji

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


Larry Clark, Sans titre, Photography

Larry Clark

Sans titre, 2005
12.5 x 18 x 0.02 cm


60 Artworks on 3886

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