Recently I had the opportunity to see an exhibition of painters who inspired early photographers and the photographs that changed painting. (Painting with Light. Art and Photography from the Pre-Raphaelites to the modern age. Until 25 September 2016 Tate Britain)
The blurb read:
"This exhibition celebrates the visual links between early photography and British art, bringing together fascinating vintage photographs and stunning paintings including Pre-Raphaelite, aesthetic and impressionist works.
Spanning 75 years across the Victorian and Edwardian ages, the exhibition showcases the experimental beginnings of photography right through to its flowering as an independent international art form. These are displayed alongside the paintings which they inspired and which inspired them.
This is the first time works by John Everett Millais, Dante Gabriel Rossetti, JAM Whistler, John Singer Sargent and others will be shown alongside photographs by pivotal early photographers such as Julia Margaret Cameron and Alvin Langdon Coburn."
I had one of those "Dah to self" moments because I hadn't really thought about artists using early photography as an "aide memoire", as is done so frequently these days. But of course they would have been seduced by how easy it was to capture the likenesses. It must have saved so much time & money compared with the detailed working sketches/paintings & the multiple sittings necessary before the development of photography. The images were fascinating - Here are a few.
Just before leaving for London I had been experimenting with Jill Greenberg-style lighting demonstrated so elegantly, if controversially, in the series "End Times". My model is herself an aspiring painter. After I had returned, & much to my delight, she sent me her self portrait, aided by my photograph. It was an interesting collaboration, albeit very humble in the face of the past & present masters. Interestingly Jill Greenberg has just done a series of photographs of paintings entitled "Paintings" turning the tables on painters who use photography as their source material.