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Sorbonne, Paris

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Paris (photographed)

  • Date:

    May 1968 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Cartier-Bresson, Henri, born 1908 - died 2004 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Gelatin silver print

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level F, case X, shelf 918, box Y

The Victoria and Albert Museum has over 440 photographs by Henri Cartier-Bresson (1908-2004), a French photographer who is considered to be one of the fathers of photojournalism and masters of candid photography. He sought to capture the 'everyday' in his photographs and took great interest in recording human activity. He wrote, "For me the camera is a sketch book, an instrument of intuition and spontaneity, the master of the instant which, in visual terms, questions and decides simultaneously. In order to 'give a meaning' to the world, one has to feel involved in what one frames through the viewfinder. This attitude requires concentration, discipline of mind, sensitivity, and a sense of geometry. It is by economy of means that one arrives at simplicity of expression."

As a reporter and co-founder of the Magnum photography agency, Cartier-Bresson accepted his responsibility to supply information to a world in a hurry. He documented the liberation of Paris, the collapse of the Nationalist regime in China, Gandhi's funeral and the partitioning of Berlin. Cartier-Bresson helped develop the street photography style that has influenced generations of photographers that followed.

Physical description

Black and white photograph shot from below, directed up a series of steps to the base of some pillars attached to a stone building (the Sorbonne). There is graffiti in the background, and four political posters on the columns, including posters of Lenin and Mao. A young man sits just off-centre on a chair, with his arms and legs crossed.

Place of Origin

Paris (photographed)


May 1968 (photographed)


Cartier-Bresson, Henri, born 1908 - died 2004 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print


Length: 29.5 cm, Height: 39.5 cm

Descriptive line

Black and white photograph by Henri Cartier-Bresson Henri, 'Sorbonne, Paris, May 1968', gelatin silver print, 1968

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Nothing in the World but Youth Margate: Turner Contemporary, 2011. ISBN: 9780955236334.




Silver; Photography

Subjects depicted

Columns; Man; Posters; Chairs; Graffiti; Universities




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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