Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Photograph - The Sun at its Zenith - Ocean
  • The Sun at its Zenith - Ocean
    Le Gray, Gustave, born 1820 - died 1884
  • Enlarge image

The Sun at its Zenith - Ocean

  • Object:

    Photograph

  • Date:

    1856 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Le Gray, Gustave, born 1820 - died 1884 (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative

  • Museum number:

    67999

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2A, shelf DR108, box LOANS

Le Gray shot directly into the sun for this photograph in an attempt to balance on one glass negative the exposure for a bright sky and a relatively dark sea. The sun has become a dark disc owing to a photochemical phenomenon in which extreme overexposure at an intense point of light reverses the tones on the negative.

Collodion-on-glass negatives were introduced in 1851. Le Gray adopted them in preference to paper negatives to achieve maximum sharpness coupled with even faster exposure times. The glass plate was covered with a solution of ether and guncotton (cotton steeped in nitric and sulphuric acids). It was then sensitised. The negative had to be exposed in the camera while still wet and developed immediately afterwards.

Physical description

Photograph of sea and clouds

Date

1856 (made)

Artist/maker

Le Gray, Gustave, born 1820 - died 1884 (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative

Dimensions

Height: 324 mm image, Width: 414 mm image, Height: 360 mm board, Width: 465 mm board

Historical context note

Townshend bequest 1868

Descriptive line

"The Sun at Zenith, Normandy" 1856-9.; 19thC, Townshend Bequest; Le Gray, Seascape, Normandy

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

Carole McNamara, The lens of impressionism: photography and painting along the Normandy coast 1850-1874 Michigan: University of Michigan Museum of Art, 2009. ISBN: 9781555953256.
Ebloussants reflets. Normandie Impressionniste - Rouen Rouen: musées des Beaux-Arts, 2013. ISBN: 9782711860623.

Labels and date

Le Gray shot directly into the sun for this photograph, in an attempt to balance on one glass negative the exposure for a bright sky and a relatively dark sea. The sun has become a dark disc, due to a photochemical phenomenon in which extreme over-exposure at an intense point of light reverses the tones on the negative.

Collodion-on-glass negatives were introduced in 1851. Le Gray adopted them in preference to paper negatives to achieve maximum sharpness coupled with even faster exposure times. The glass plate was covered with a solution of ether and guncotton (cotton steeped in nitric and sulphuric acids). It was then sensitised. The negative had to be exposed in the camera while still wet and developed immediately afterwards. []

Techniques

Albumen process

Subjects depicted

Seascape; Sun

Categories

Photographs

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.