To complement the exhibition Masterworks from the Phillips Collection (February 20–May 29, 2005), the Cleveland Museum of Art presented Drawn with Light: Pioneering French Photography, selections from the museum's holdings in this area, which had impressively expanded during the past 15 years. The desire to represent reality had long been a strong impulse in Western art. With the invention of photography in 1839, this new mechanical means provided for an unprecedented level of exactitude.
The show surveyed about 30 works by such pictorially inventive and technically accomplished 19th- and early 20th-century photographers as Édouard Baldus, Adolphe Braun, Gustave Le Gray, Henri Le Secq, Nadar, Charles Marville, Louis Robert, and Eugène Atget. They turned their cameras to record reality—common and everyday, natural and constructed. The aesthetically pleasing photographs provided evidence of place, knowledge of the world, and a record of humanity's creation for a growing public curiosity and interest in these images. The exhibition depicted many of the same subjects examined by the painters from The Phillips Collection such as portraiture, landscape, architectural view, still life, and genre.