Debunking the Myth of How Early Photography Influenced Painting

A complex dialogue between two art forms

Christopher P Jones

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‘Carte de visite’ of Prince Lobkowitz (1858) by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri. Albumen silver print from glass negative. 20.0 × 23.2 cm. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, U.S. Image source The Met (open access)

It’s often said that the invention of photography “freed” painters from the need to slavishly represent reality in their work. If a photograph could capture a real-life scene in a matter of moments, then why spend days and weeks toiling over a painted version?

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