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Léon Bovier 
Christ au tombeau 
[Photo-Club de Paris / 1896, Pl. VI] 
1896 
  
Heliogravure / Photogravure 
6.5 x 15.8 cm 
  
Photoseed 
Photograph courtesy PhotoSeed.com 
  
 
LL/14331 
  
Country: Belgium: Brussels
 
Bovier, (1865-1923) was the founder of the important Belgian artistic photographic movement known as L'Effort in 1901. This is a very unusual image because it is one of the first known examples of Jesus Christ portrayed in a photograph. Making reference to this image in a biographical article on Bovier in the book Impressionist Camera: Pictorial Photography in Europe, 1888-1918 (page 163) "This subject, one of the most common in art, was achieved on a canvas-type paper sensitized by means of a process Bovier had invented himself. (interestingly - Bovier made his living as a photographic materials supplier in Brussels-editor) Its presentation immediately divided critics: "On the one hand, we can praise Bovier's attempt at the religious genre, but on the other we should remind him that photography cannot possibly express the supernatural or the divine." Conversely, an article in Photograms of the Year for 1896 praised the work as "a masterstroke that succeeds wonderfully in rendering the dual nature-divine and human-of the Son of God. Death is handled with skill and the whole work is extremely powerful." (Ibid)
 
The American photographer Fred Holland Day may have also been influenced by this photograph. In the book: F. Holland Day: Suffering The Ideal (Twin Palms Publishers: 1995) An interesting analysis of the efforts (including starvation) that Day undertook to make a series of self-portraits as Christ beginning in July of 1898 is discussed. A very similar picture to this Bovier photograph is one that Day did in 1898 and titled "The Entombment" (Plate #28 in the book). Day also depicted Jesus in an 1896 study that serves as the book's frontispiece titled: Study for Crucifixion (Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division, PH Day, F., No. 119.)
 
Another photographer who explored religious imagery by means of genre photography (no known examples of any representations of Jesus are known however) is the important British photographer Julia Margaret Cameron.
 
Plate (Graveur) by Fillon et Heuse
Printed by Ateliers Charles Wittmann
 
Included in the "Troisième Exposition d'Art Photographique" of the Photo-Club of Paris (1896) 
 

 
  
 
  
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