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Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon - Eugene Bethemont, French Minister
Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon
Eugene Bethemont, French Minister
$1,500
Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon (attributed to) - Jean-François Mocquard
Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon (attributed to)
Jean-François Mocquard
$3,500
Henri Cartier-Bresson - Arrival of President Mao Zedong, Peking, China
Henri Cartier-Bresson
Arrival of President Mao Zedong, Peking, China
$18,000
Bruce Davidson - Laughing Ted Kennedy
Bruce Davidson
Laughing Ted Kennedy
$3,500
Alfred Eisenstaedt - John F. Kennedy
Alfred Eisenstaedt
John F. Kennedy
$2,500
Fox Photos - Princess Elizabeth Watches Birthday Parade at Windsor
Fox Photos
Princess Elizabeth Watches Birthday Parade at Windsor
$450
Keystone View Co. - J. D. Rockefeller Shaking Hands with a Little Boy
Keystone View Co.
J. D. Rockefeller Shaking Hands with a Little Boy
$50
J. H. Larrabee - Hon. Edward Everett
J. H. Larrabee
Hon. Edward Everett
$1,250
Maull & Polyblank - Major General William Fenwick Williams
Maull & Polyblank
Major General William Fenwick Williams
$350
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon) - François Pierre Guillaume Guizot
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon)
François Pierre Guillaume Guizot
$750
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon) - Jules Michelet
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon)
Jules Michelet
$750
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon) - Louis-Adolphe Thiers
Nadar (Gaspard Felix Tournachon)
Louis-Adolphe Thiers
$750
By Matt Damsker

From photography’s earliest days, portraits of politicians, scientists and the otherwise eminent tended to a formality that ensured a sense of dignity and a fitting seriousness of purpose. After all, these leaders and avatars of progress could not be depicted as men or women given to the slightest frivolity, human nature be damned. Thus, as this exhibit showcases, vintage19th-century images of French ministers, British royalty, or American senators and presidents are studies in stiff-backed rectitude or, in the case of princesses, softly ennobled womanhood.

Not surprisingly, photography’s early images of statesmen often show them seated, with pen in hand as if to sign an important treaty, exuding competence and diligence. Indeed, the seminal photographer Nadar granted an immemorial stature to his shadowed subjects. This held for the most famous, such as Abraham Lincoln or Samuel Morse, to the forgotten legislators of Lincoln’s day, as well as for the statesmen and great men up to and including much of the 1950s. But it is not long into the ‘50s that times, and photographic fashion, began to change.

By 1955, in fact, world leaders such as Winston Churchill are photographed in all their vulnerability, in some cases moved to tears, as photographers such as Larry Burrows and Henri Cartier-Bresson locate their subjects in the everyday world.

The 1960s, of course, would herald a loosening of photographic (and virtually all) tradition on a large scale, as photographers Vytas Valaitis and Paul Schutzer captured candid, utterly human moments in which icons like Jacqueline Kennedy are seen socializing merrily with the likes of Charles DeGaulle, while the Kennedy men are photographed at ease, in ways that herald a truly modern form of celebrity. The days of carefully stage-managed photographic moments--in which a Theodore or Franklin Roosevelt were glimpsed among the people, exuding a modern optimism–yielded to a new naturalism in photography. This exhibit chronicles the great distance between yesterday’s strict formality and today’s transparency.

Portraits of Famous People: Politicians, Scientists and Other Historical Figures
About This Exhibit
Image List

Exhibited and Sold By
Contemporary Works / Vintage Works, Ltd.

258 Inverness Circle
Chalfont, Pennsylvania   18914   USA

Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith

Email info@vintageworks.net

Phone +1-215-822-5662

Call for an Appointment

 

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