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Camille de Silvy - River Scene (1858) - Checklist

ThumbnailCamille Silvy 
River Scene 
Albumen print 
10 1/8 x 14 in 
J. Paul Getty Museum 
The J. Paul Getty Trust (90.XM.63) 

ThumbnailCamille Silvy 
Book cover for "Camille Silvy: River Scene, France" by Mark Haworth-Booth 
Book cover 
J. Paul Getty Museum 
The J. Paul Getty Trust 
Feedback Id: EE/133Click on image for details 
[Copyright and Fair Use Issues]
Contextual notes: 
The best landscape photographs go beyond the arrangements and proportions of land, water and sky and take the viewer into the realms of memory and emotion.
Here we see the Huisne river near the birthplace of Camille Silvy as he saw it in 1858 with the bands of clouds, wooden rural buildings and brick walls scattered on the left bank with column-like trees cutting vertical lines into the sky - a boat with a man sitting in it and a woman standing close by. On the right there is the meadow with some people on the grass. We can see the details of the picture but it represents far more than that - it has within it a harmony of elements that we feel comfortable with. We can all wish that we had been on the bridge that day with him and we yearn for past that has gone but are glad that he has shared a moment of Arcadian tranquility with us.
All is not as simple as it seems in this Arcadia; the print is a complex combination print that merges different images to create the harmonious whole. In the book on this image by Mark Haworth-Booth he argues the intriguing point that it is proto-impressionist - bringing together the edge of a town where it melds into a rural setting and at the same time mixes the social levels of the society with the country bourgeoisie and the working class.
In 1990 one of the leading exponents of color photography, Stephen Shore, was commissioned by the J. Paul Getty Museum to re-photograph exactly the same site but he obtained a very different image. You get a record shot of a place as it is but with none of the emotion. It is not that Stephen Shore is not a great photographer, he is, but his approach and sensibilities to landscape photography are totally different.
[Thanks to Mark Haworth-Booth for his insights on this.]
John Shaw's Nature Photography Field Guide 
John Shaw
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Lee Friedlander
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The Worlds Top Photographers and the Stories Behind Their Greatest Images: Wildlife 
Terry Hope
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