House in Pau

House in Pau




Salted paper print from a paper negative

Image: 24.4 x 34.4 cm (9 5/8 x 13 9/16 in.); Mounted: 47.5 x 59.6 cm (18 11/16 x 23 7/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 61 cm (20 x 24 in.)

Mr. and Mrs. Richard W. Whitehill Art Purchase Endowment Fund 2001.4



This large, richly toned print is an exceptional example of the artistic and technical abilities of an early amateur photographer, possibly French in nationality, known only as W.H.G. In 1854 this mysterious photographer worked for a limited time in Pau and the surrounding regions of the Pyrenees. Most of his or her 24 known compositions are architectural details or buildings sited in the landscape. In this example, instead of a traditional frontal view, the massive shape of the stately townhouse was documented at an oblique angle, which accentuates its volume and emphasizes the negative space created by the steep roofline against the sky. Yet the photographer also captured delicate details, like the patterns of shadow cast by the open shutters against the building's walls. Clearly, W.H.G. understood the possibilities of the waxed paper negative, with its ability to render broad areas of light and shade, to suggest detail and texture, and to allow the viewer's imagination to complete the picture.

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