Gustave Le Gray (1820-1884) was the most important photographer of the Second Empire in France, and initiated a new way of seeing. His students were amateurs from all different social backgrounds, and following the vision of their teacher they pioneered a new esthetique that was in complete rupture with the traditional teachings of the time.

This avant-garde modernist movement created images that surprised the public for their audacity, their perfection and their constant experimentation. The list of students includes Le Secq, Negre, Greene, Salzmann, Bérenger, Delaunay and Du Manoir.

The exhibition opens with a selection of works by Le Gray and an in-depth exploration of the common practices of the group: treatment of the subject, composition, obsession for shapes and geometry, and care for the print.

A second part shines a light on five more or less known students: Charles Negre, Henri Le Secq, John B. Greene, Alphonse Delaunay and Adrien Tournachon. The works of the latter are a revelation since some of his portraits, which are very acclaimed for some, were until today attributed to his famous brother Felix Nadar. Through the presentation of 160 prints (most of them unpublished) the exhibition proposes a new reading of the beginnings of photography.

— Anne de Mondenard et Marc Pagneux

The exhibition catalog (in French) is a wonderful resource for discovering some of this remarkable early photography.