The Art of the Photogravure
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History Chapters
Introduction
Niépce and Fizeau
William Henry Fox Talbot
Karl Klic & the Dust-Grain Photogravure
Emerson & Naturalistic Photography
Pictorialism & the Photo-Secession
Camera Notes & Camera Work
Straight Photography
Contemporary Photogravure
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The History of the Photogravure
Pictorialism & the Photo-Secession

INSPIRED BY EMERSON'S ideas and images, photographers began to explore the expressionistic potential of photography. This movement, known as Pictorialism, was characterized by painterly techniques involving soft focus lenses and heavily manipulated printing processes like gum bichromate and bromoil. George Davison's famous image, The Onion Field, is an early example of an impressionistic or pictorial photograph. Its soft focus was achieved using a pinhole lens.

Pictorial photographers considered themselves serious amateurs—motivated by artistic forces rather than those of financial gain. In Europe they formed salons and clubs like The Linked Ring Brotherhood, The Royal Photographic Society (of England) and The Photo-Club of Paris. And in America in 1902, Stieglitz established the group called the Photo-Secession. He chose the name "Secession" because of its use by some societies of avant-garde artists in Germany and Austria to denote their independence from the academic establishment.

Photogravure proved to be an effective tool for the pictorialists, aiding in their mission to convince a skeptical audience that photography had significant expressive potential. For once, the qualities of gravure enabled them to more accurately reproduce the subtle and beautiful character of their images in books, journals and limited editioned portfolios.

The value of photogravure in establishing photography as a fine art was emerging. line

backnextCamera Notes & Camera Work

George Davidson, The Onion Field
George Davison, 1854-1930.
The Onion Field. 1889.
Photogravure print. 15.4 x 20.5 cm