The gates of early photography are wide open

On 15 November 2019, by Anne Doridou-Heim

A photographic opus echoed the Paris Photo fair and early prints by a recently recognised pioneer, Raymond de Bérenger (1811-1875), met with success.

Raymond de Bérenger (1811-1875), Les Portes de Sassenage, 1853, salted paper print from paper negative, 26.6 x 33.7 cm.
Result: €30,720

Although his name sounds familiar to very few people except those who esteem trailblazers, Bérenger was part of Gustave Le Gray's circle. A winter 2012 show at the Petit Palais in Paris showed the modernity of a master and his students who, breaking with Beaux-Arts teaching, came up with a new aesthetic. One of them overtook his mentor. A print of Fontainebleau Forest did not sell, but Bérenger’s Portes de Sassenage (Sassenage Gates), an 1853 print from a paper negative, fetched €30,720. His path was atypical: a marquis and politician, his career ended with the fall of the July Monarchy and he withdrew to his estate at Sassenage near Grenoble, where he devoted himself to photography. Around 1853, he photographed his castle, its grounds and the surrounding landscape. The captivating lines of construction, mastery of contrasts between shadow and light and quality of the prints prove he had thoroughly learned Le Gray’s lessons. A series from around 1854 of 15 highly realistic "Spanish Types" by another disciple, Alphonse Delaunay (1827-1906), whose work also deserves more attention, fetched €23,040.

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