National Gallery of Art - EXHIBITIONS

Image: Photographic Discoveries: Recent Acquisitions, March 26 - July 30, 2006

This exhibition is no longer on view at the National Gallery. Please follow the links below for related online resources or visit our current exhibitions schedule.

Image: Charles Marville
French, 1816 - c. 1879
Rue de la Bûcherie, 1865/1869
albumen print from collodion negative, image: 32 x 27.1 cm (12 5/8 x 10 11/16 in.)
mount: 60 x 42.5 cm (23 5/8 x 16 3/4 in.)
Anonymous Gift
2002.144.1 In the last few years the National Gallery of Art has significantly expanded its holdings of both 19th- and 20th-century European and American photographs. Presenting approximately 70 works by such celebrated photographers as William Henry Fox Talbot, Eugène Atget, Alfred Stieglitz, Aleksandr Rodchenko, and Brassaï, this exhibition highlights significant new acquisitions of photographs made during the first century of the medium's history, from the early 1840s to the 1940s.

Organized around the theme of discovery, the exhibition demonstrates how photographers sought to understand techniques for making pictures using this new medium. While it reveals how early photographers explored subjects traditionally depicted by the other arts—such as portraiture, landscape, and still life—it also describes how they came to recognize and exploit the ways in which photography infused these subjects with vitality and meaning. The exhibition also explores how the evolving techniques of photography not only enabled its practitioners to perfect their craft, but also to discover innovative ways of examining and representing the world.

Organization: Organized by the National Gallery of Art, Washington.

Sponsor: This exhibition is made possible through the generous support of the Trellis Fund and The Ryna and Melvin Cohen Family Foundation.


Photographic Beginnings: Selections from the National Gallery of Art Library
Selected Highlights
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This exhibit of books and publications focuses on the birth of the photographic process. Items on view range from early pre-photographic experiments with the camera obscura to Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre's original 1839 publication in which he describes his process, early descriptions of William Henry Fox Talbot's "sun pictures" (now referred to as calotypes), and the first publications to feature photographic illustrations.