Gustave Le Gray - The Great 19th Century French Photographer

Photographs by Gustave Le Gray in 1856 through 1857

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:Gustave Le Gray - Brig upon the Water - 1856. Albumen print - Height: 320.8 mm (12.63 in). Width: 406.4 mm (16 in). This is a favorite. Cloudy Sky Mediterranean Sea.  A very beautiful image. 1857Gustave Le Gray - Steamboat - 1857 - An albumen print from a collodion glass negative.  Photo was purchased in 1985.
:Gustave Le Gray - Brig upon the Water - 1856. Albumen print - Height: 320.8 mm (12.63 in). Width: 406.4 mm (16 in). This is a favorite.
:Gustave Le Gray - Brig upon the Water - 1856. Albumen print - Height: 320.8 mm (12.63 in). Width: 406.4 mm (16 in). This is a favorite. | Source
Cloudy Sky Mediterranean Sea.  A very beautiful image. 1857
Cloudy Sky Mediterranean Sea. A very beautiful image. 1857 | Source
Gustave Le Gray - Steamboat - 1857 - An albumen print from a collodion glass negative.  Photo was purchased in 1985.
Gustave Le Gray - Steamboat - 1857 - An albumen print from a collodion glass negative. Photo was purchased in 1985. | Source

Pictures by Gustave Le Gray - Beech Tree, Camel, Boat in Port

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The Beech Tree.  Dated between 1855 - 1857.  Albumen Silver Photo, by Gustave Le Gray. Gustave Le Gray Dromadaire d artillerie, Egypt, 1866.I think this is wonderful.  Look at the reflection on the water. Gustave Le Gray - Reine Hortense - 1856Another fascinating tree photo by Gustave Le Gray.  Taken in 1856.
The Beech Tree.  Dated between 1855 - 1857.  Albumen Silver Photo, by Gustave Le Gray.
The Beech Tree. Dated between 1855 - 1857. Albumen Silver Photo, by Gustave Le Gray. | Source
Gustave Le Gray Dromadaire d artillerie, Egypt, 1866.
Gustave Le Gray Dromadaire d artillerie, Egypt, 1866. | Source
I think this is wonderful.  Look at the reflection on the water. Gustave Le Gray - Reine Hortense - 1856
I think this is wonderful. Look at the reflection on the water. Gustave Le Gray - Reine Hortense - 1856 | Source
Another fascinating tree photo by Gustave Le Gray.  Taken in 1856.
Another fascinating tree photo by Gustave Le Gray. Taken in 1856. | Source

Clouds and Sky - Le Gray

Another black and white image of Gustave Le Gray's work.  It is so beautiful.  Also, I love the perspective, etc.  Albumen print.
Another black and white image of Gustave Le Gray's work. It is so beautiful. Also, I love the perspective, etc. Albumen print. | Source

1850's - Portraits - Le Gray

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Empress Eugénie of France (1826-1920).  1856, by Gustave Le Gray. A very beautiful portrait of Empress Eugenie.Victor Cousin by Gustave Le Gray, late 1850s.  A very excellent portrait.  It is quite impressive, that seems to almost capture the feelings themselves.Gustave Le Gray,  Giuseppe Garibaldi Palermo 1860.  Another portrait of Louis-Napoleon, President of the republic.  Dated 1852.  By Gustave Legray. Albumen silver print from paper negative. Portrait of Henri Le Secq - By Gustave Le Gray.
Empress Eugénie of France (1826-1920).  1856, by Gustave Le Gray. A very beautiful portrait of Empress Eugenie.
Empress Eugénie of France (1826-1920). 1856, by Gustave Le Gray. A very beautiful portrait of Empress Eugenie. | Source
Victor Cousin by Gustave Le Gray, late 1850s.  A very excellent portrait.  It is quite impressive, that seems to almost capture the feelings themselves.
Victor Cousin by Gustave Le Gray, late 1850s. A very excellent portrait. It is quite impressive, that seems to almost capture the feelings themselves. | Source
Gustave Le Gray,  Giuseppe Garibaldi Palermo 1860.
Gustave Le Gray, Giuseppe Garibaldi Palermo 1860. | Source
Another portrait of Louis-Napoleon, President of the republic.  Dated 1852.  By Gustave Legray. Albumen silver print from paper negative.
Another portrait of Louis-Napoleon, President of the republic. Dated 1852. By Gustave Legray. Albumen silver print from paper negative. | Source
Portrait of Henri Le Secq - By Gustave Le Gray.
Portrait of Henri Le Secq - By Gustave Le Gray. | Source

Self Portrait Of Gustave Le Gray

By Gustave Le Gray, who lived from 1820 through 1884.  This is a cropped form of the photo.  Image in the public domain.
By Gustave Le Gray, who lived from 1820 through 1884. This is a cropped form of the photo. Image in the public domain. | Source

Gallery Of Images by French Photographer Gustave Le Gray

Early photography was a unique art. This is a celebration of an amazing French photographer, Gustave Le Gray. The range of subject matter as well as his growth as a photographer can be seen in his images.

Le Gray was trained as a painter who eventually held some exhibitions, and later taught and inspired. He studied art under Paul Delaroche, and Francois Edouard Picot. Later he turned to photography. Photography was still a relatively new medium at the time and Le Gray had some interesting technical innovations to bring to the table. Not only that, he became an amazing teacher to others wanting to learn photography, some having become rather notable.

Some of the noted photographers that he taught were Olympe Aguado, Maxime Du Camp, Charles Negre, and Henri Le Secq. It is probably fair to say he continues to inspire to this day.

Le Gray made his daguerreotypes by 1847, and they included scenes of nature, buildings of all kinds, and portraits. Later he traveled to various places and caught some amazing images that got him some real publicity, like Palermo under Sicilian bombing during skirmishes with revolutionary forces, etc. So you can see he has a wide range of subject matter that he dealt with while photography was still in its infancy really.

If you have the time to look up the information on his life, there are some interesting twists and turns, ups and downs. He made a living for instance being a professor of drawing, and also made some money with his own little photography shop. It is said that he probably died July 30th, 1884 in Cairo, Egypt.

Gustave Le Gray has been known to bring a lot of imagination to photography in his time. He is a great study to those that love the history of photography. My hope is that you get a feel for Gustave Le Gray's works as you look at his photography through the lens of what he had in the time in which he lived.

Le Gray's pictures tell a story of their own, and seem to really capture the light and shadows, detail, feeling, and texture of many of his subjects. There are several images to small to really appreciate. To ensure that you see all images in a larger format, make sure to click on the smaller thumbnails or view the slide show. My hope is that you get a feel for this artistic photographer just by looking at some of the things he captured, and how he did it.

Castle and Port - Gustave Le Gray

Brest Gustave Le Gray - 1858.  A spectacular image and subject.
Brest Gustave Le Gray - 1858. A spectacular image and subject. | Source

Paris Palais du Louvre - Pavillon Molien - Gustave Le Gray 1859

Albumen Print,  Height: 36.7 cm (14.4 in). Width: 47.9 cm (18.9 in).  There is a red ink stamp in lower right corner of print that reads "Gustave LeGray."
Albumen Print, Height: 36.7 cm (14.4 in). Width: 47.9 cm (18.9 in). There is a red ink stamp in lower right corner of print that reads "Gustave LeGray." | Source

Gustave Le Gray - Photographs Water Scenes

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Jean Baptiste - Gustave Le Gray - Mediterranean with Mountain, 1856/1859.  Albumen Print.The Great Wave, Sète, 1857.  Being someone that loves the ocean, I found this rather interesting.  Albumen silver print from glass negative; 33.7 x 41.4 cm (13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in.)1857 - Albumen Silver - Gustave Le Gray - Cloudy Sky on Mediterranean Sea.
Jean Baptiste - Gustave Le Gray - Mediterranean with Mountain, 1856/1859.  Albumen Print.
Jean Baptiste - Gustave Le Gray - Mediterranean with Mountain, 1856/1859. Albumen Print. | Source
The Great Wave, Sète, 1857.  Being someone that loves the ocean, I found this rather interesting.  Albumen silver print from glass negative; 33.7 x 41.4 cm (13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in.)
The Great Wave, Sète, 1857. Being someone that loves the ocean, I found this rather interesting. Albumen silver print from glass negative; 33.7 x 41.4 cm (13 1/4 x 16 5/16 in.) | Source
1857 - Albumen Silver - Gustave Le Gray - Cloudy Sky on Mediterranean Sea.
1857 - Albumen Silver - Gustave Le Gray - Cloudy Sky on Mediterranean Sea. | Source

City of Uzerche, Corrèze in France, By Gustave Le Gray

I find this one to be absolutely fascinating, with the river and bridge in the corner, to the details of the windows on the buildings.  Very beautiful and interesting, and so much texture.
I find this one to be absolutely fascinating, with the river and bridge in the corner, to the details of the windows on the buildings. Very beautiful and interesting, and so much texture. | Source

More About Gustave Le Gray - Paper Photography and More

Gustave Le Gray was looking for ways to get better quality images with his photos, "crispier" images. As you can see from many of the images shared here, that he seemed to achieve sharper images over time. He used paper, waxed paper, salt, etc and different effects were achieved. He predicted that the "entire future of photography is on paper." He began experimenting with different variations in 1847. He found that paper negatives needed to be waxed prior to sensitization to yield better images, for example.

Le Gray, with his artistic background, his passion for photography, ability to travel and his drive to experiment and grow, he brought so much to us today. I am thankful for his perspective on life (as seen through his lense), and how he captured such a wide range of images so well and so artistically. From castles to train stations, and famous portraits to the humble tree, he was an incredible photographer worth remembering.

Interesting Architecture - Photos by Gustave Le Gray

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Gustave Le Gray, The Tour St-Jacques, 1859.  The depth and texture that these images exhibit is incredible. Gustave Le Gray - Saint Savin, (Vienne).  1847/1855.  My eyes were drawn to the texture in the wall to the detail of the steeple on the church.  Salted paper print.Pantheon photo, Paris, Gustave Le Gray.  Not dated, and possibly an earlier image of Le Grays.  Albumen print - Height: 50 cm (19.7 in). Width: 39.7 cm (15.6 in)..
Gustave Le Gray, The Tour St-Jacques, 1859.  The depth and texture that these images exhibit is incredible.
Gustave Le Gray, The Tour St-Jacques, 1859. The depth and texture that these images exhibit is incredible. | Source
Gustave Le Gray - Saint Savin, (Vienne).  1847/1855.  My eyes were drawn to the texture in the wall to the detail of the steeple on the church.  Salted paper print.
Gustave Le Gray - Saint Savin, (Vienne). 1847/1855. My eyes were drawn to the texture in the wall to the detail of the steeple on the church. Salted paper print. | Source
Pantheon photo, Paris, Gustave Le Gray.  Not dated, and possibly an earlier image of Le Grays.  Albumen print - Height: 50 cm (19.7 in). Width: 39.7 cm (15.6 in)..
Pantheon photo, Paris, Gustave Le Gray. Not dated, and possibly an earlier image of Le Grays. Albumen print - Height: 50 cm (19.7 in). Width: 39.7 cm (15.6 in).. | Source

Gustave Le Gray - Village, Old Train Station, Solar Effect on Ocean, and Soldiers Cavalry Maneuvers

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Village by the waterfront.  What an interesting image and capture.  Train station with train and coal depot by Gustave Le Gray.Solar Effect in the Clouds--Ocean.  Albumen Print. Gustave Le Gray."Guards Behind Breastwork - Cavalry Maneuvers."  This one is an example of an albumenized salted paper print.  By Gustave Le Gray in 1857
Village by the waterfront.  What an interesting image and capture.
Village by the waterfront. What an interesting image and capture. | Source
Train station with train and coal depot by Gustave Le Gray.
Train station with train and coal depot by Gustave Le Gray. | Source
Solar Effect in the Clouds--Ocean.  Albumen Print. Gustave Le Gray.
Solar Effect in the Clouds--Ocean. Albumen Print. Gustave Le Gray. | Source
"Guards Behind Breastwork - Cavalry Maneuvers."  This one is an example of an albumenized salted paper print.  By Gustave Le Gray in 1857
"Guards Behind Breastwork - Cavalry Maneuvers." This one is an example of an albumenized salted paper print. By Gustave Le Gray in 1857 | Source

Some older and later photos by Le Gray

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Chateau de Fontainebleau - France. Castle reflecting in the water by Gustave Le Gray.Gustave Le Gray, The Salon of 1852.  Gustave Courbet's Young Women from the Village (40.175) is visible in Le Gray's view of the Salon of 1852.  Salted paper print from waxed-paper negative.City of Carcassonne France, 1851, by Gustave Le Gray.City of Carcassonne in France by Gustave LeGray - 1951This is called Study of Trees and Pathways, done by Gustave Le Gray in 1949.  Method used is salt, from a wax calotyped negative.
Chateau de Fontainebleau - France. Castle reflecting in the water by Gustave Le Gray.
Chateau de Fontainebleau - France. Castle reflecting in the water by Gustave Le Gray. | Source
Gustave Le Gray, The Salon of 1852.  Gustave Courbet's Young Women from the Village (40.175) is visible in Le Gray's view of the Salon of 1852.  Salted paper print from waxed-paper negative.
Gustave Le Gray, The Salon of 1852. Gustave Courbet's Young Women from the Village (40.175) is visible in Le Gray's view of the Salon of 1852. Salted paper print from waxed-paper negative. | Source
City of Carcassonne France, 1851, by Gustave Le Gray.
City of Carcassonne France, 1851, by Gustave Le Gray. | Source
City of Carcassonne in France by Gustave LeGray - 1951
City of Carcassonne in France by Gustave LeGray - 1951 | Source
Source
This is called Study of Trees and Pathways, done by Gustave Le Gray in 1949.  Method used is salt, from a wax calotyped negative.
This is called Study of Trees and Pathways, done by Gustave Le Gray in 1949. Method used is salt, from a wax calotyped negative. | Source

Gustave Le Gray - Poll

Before seeing this, were you familiar with Gustave Le Gray, the French Photographer?

  • Yes
  • No
  • I had only heard the name.
  • Some other answer.
See results without voting

Gustave Le Gray's Pictures of Palermo

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Ruins in Palermo, Photo by Gustave Le Gray in 1860.June of 1860 - Gustave Le Gray Photographer - PalermoPalermo 1860, Gustave Le Gray PhotoPalermo - Picture by Gustave Le Gray
Ruins in Palermo, Photo by Gustave Le Gray in 1860.
Ruins in Palermo, Photo by Gustave Le Gray in 1860. | Source
June of 1860 - Gustave Le Gray Photographer - Palermo
June of 1860 - Gustave Le Gray Photographer - Palermo | Source
Palermo 1860, Gustave Le Gray Photo
Palermo 1860, Gustave Le Gray Photo | Source
Palermo - Picture by Gustave Le Gray
Palermo - Picture by Gustave Le Gray | Source

© 2014 Paula

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Comments 4 comments

lions44 profile image

lions44 2 years ago from Auburn, WA

I had not heard of Mr. Le Gray. Those were extraordinary shots, especially the one of the port. The way he captured light with a black and white shot in the 1850s! Thx very much. Voted up and shared.


PsychGeek profile image

PsychGeek 23 months ago from UK

These are such wonderful photographs. I have learnt so much reading this, I was not aware of this photographer before. Great Hub, thank you for sharing with us! Voted up.


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 23 months ago from The Midwest, USA Author

Lions, I too love the photo of the port, and was blown away by what he could accomplish in the 1850s. I came across his work, and had also never heard of him before and decided to do some research and look at his other images and story. I am glad you stopped by and looked and commented, thank you!


oceansnsunsets profile image

oceansnsunsets 23 months ago from The Midwest, USA Author

PsychGeek, I am so glad you liked the photos, and learned something new! I was impressed because of the fact he took these in the 19th century, and didn't have what we do at our disposal today. I'm glad you stopped by and commented, thank you!

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