The Sun at its Zenith - Ocean thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Request to view at the Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C

The Sun at its Zenith - Ocean

Photograph
1856 (made)
Artist/Maker

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.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Albumen print from a collodion-on-glass negative
Brief Description
"The Sun at Zenith, Normandy" 1856-9.; 19thC, Townshend Bequest; Le Gray, Seascape, Normandy
Physical Description
Photograph of sea and clouds
Dimensions
  • Image length: 37cm
  • Image height: 27.5cm
  • Sheet length: 40.7cm
  • Sheet height: 32.1cm
Gallery Label
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.
Historical context
Townshend bequest 1868
Subjects depicted
Summary
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.
Bibliographic References
  • 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.
Collection
Accession Number
67999

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record createdJanuary 28, 2004
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