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Mississippi, 1961

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    America (made)

  • Date:

    1961 (made)

  • 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 V

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 of three men sitting outside of a service station. One white man sits alone on a large bench while two black men sit together on another small bench at the side, highlighting racial segregation in the American South at the time.

Place of Origin

America (made)


1961 (made)


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

Materials and Techniques

Gelatin silver print


Height: 49.5 cm Mount, Width: 68.1 cm Mount, Height: 39.2 cm Image, Width: 58 cm Image

Object history note

NB: The term ‘negro’ was used historically to describe people of black (sub-Saharan) African heritage but, since the 1960s, has fallen from usage and, increasingly, is considered offensive. The term is repeated here in its original historical context.

Wallace Westerfeldt, the author for the chapter in which this image appeared, wrote, 'The Negro's plight is symbolised in this picture: at Hinds County, Mississippi, outside a grocery store, a white citizen complacently lounges on a large comfortable bench while two negroes huddle on a small rickety one. Southern whites insist facilities are "separate but equal".'

'Cartier-Bresson remembers taking this picture, recalling in a recent conversation that he saw the scene from the car in which he and Westerfeldt were travelling. He was about to get out when Westerfeldt intervened, telling him to stay in the car. Feelings were running high and HCB made the exposure through the car window before they quickly drove away.' Mark Haworth-Booth, V&A

Descriptive line

Gelatin-silver photograph of three men sitting outside of a service station in Mississippi. America, ca. mid to late 20th century.




Silver; Photography

Subjects depicted

Racism; Race; Road; Service




Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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