Calavas Frères (publishers) - ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales London Thursday, May 17, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Catalogue Essay

    While the cyanotype is one of the earliest photographic processes it has never outlived its appeal to artists and photographers. Christian Marclay, Robert Rauschenberg and Walead Beshty, among many others, have used this old but exceedingly flexible technique to create entirely new imagery. The remarkably large and striking cyanotype offered here, created over one hundred years ago, is strikingly contemporary in its size and dramatic impact. It is a perfect illustration of the clarity and beauty the technique was capable of achieving in the hands of an expert practitioner.

    This cyanotype was originally made to document and showcase a sample of Point de Gaze lace. It is a photogram, made without the use of a camera by laying the lace directly onto sensitised paper and exposing it to light. Where the lace prevented light from reaching the paper a white image was created; where the paper was exposed to light it produced the vivid and distinctive Prussian blue colour that is the hallmark of the cyanotype. White pigment seems to have been carefully applied to some of the more intricate details in order to make the white outlines of the delicate floral lace pattern form a bold contrast against the majestic blue background. Technically and aesthetically, the cyanotype was the ideal medium to portray this sample of lace whose patterns cascade dramatically across the deep blue background.

    In the late 19th Century, Calavas Frères published several folios and books of photographs for artists’ reference, notably figure studies by Louis Igout. The firm also produced books relating to textiles, including lace, leather, and blinds. The present cyanotype photogram was originally published within a lavish album of lace samples. The exceptional scale of this work distinguishes it from other smaller examples. A slightly smaller cyanotype from the same album is held in the collection of the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston.




Unique cyanotype photogram.
Sheet: 92.2 x 49.5 cm (36 1/4 x 19 1/2 in.)
Frame: 112.8 x 69.5 cm (44 3/8 x 27 3/8 in.)

Plate number in the image.

This work is unique.

£10,000 - 15,000 

Sold for £16,250

Contact Specialist
Genevieve Janvrin
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+33 1 53 71 77 87

Yuka Yamaji
Co-Head of Photographs, Europe
+44 20 7318 4098

ULTIMATE Evening & Photographs Day Sales

London Auction 18 May 2018