Art Essay Example with the Article Review on Photography in France in the Early 1850s

Published: 2022-03-23
Art Essay Example with the Article Review on Photography in France in the Early 1850s
Type of paper:  Essay
Categories:  Art
Pages: 4
Wordcount: 889 words
8 min read

Article and author information

The author, associate professor Margaret Denton, is a staff at the University of Richmond in the department of art and art history. She has recently been focusing on the intersection between painting and photography in France in the 19th century. At the institution, she teaches various courses which include American and European art she was given a distinguished educator award to recognize her coaching skills at the institution. The title of the article is "Francis Wey and the Discourse of Photography as Art in France in the Early 1850s: 'Rien n'est beau que le vrai; mais il faut le Choisir.'" The title reveals how photography has changed the art industry since its introduction in the mid-1800s.Article Overview

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Margaret Denton wrote this article to show how photography has changed the art industry and currently considered as the modern idea embraced by artists. The author wanted to reveal that photography is a form of higher art that should be considered in its pure state. Additionally, she wanted to show that art was revolutionizing and so artists should embrace the new technique to share their creativity with the world. The author used the discourse of Francis Wey who was French critic, writer, and linguist who pioneered the writings to promote photography in art.

In the past 20 years, the authors on the topic of photography have been endeavoring to designate the photography in the 19th century as a form of art. The author revealed photography as a modernized enterprise to expose the social and utilitarian roles, or at least minimize the importance of those roles so that it could attain the status of purified high art. Moreover, photography is considered a significant discourse which developed during the 19th century, but the article focused specifically on its occurrence in France. The article focuses on the contribution of Francis Wey who was a writer, critic, and linguist. Wey was also a member of the societe heliographique that was founded in the mid-1800s to promote photography as an art. Weys analysis on photography revealed its ability to reconcile the fantasy and harmony. He stated that the images were unnatural and profoundly unsettling as they had no mist and their clarity improved the legibility for viewers to enjoy. Wey recognized that photography was an accomplished art which was monumental that could depict the exact forms within the environment. He preferred traditional art vocabularies such as contours and light to emphasize his delight in the change that photography had brought to the art industry.

The audience of Wey's paper was the general public since his opinion on the photography was published in the la Lumiere issue of 1851. This was a publication that was accessible to all French people who could access the article. He wanted to sensitize both the artists and the enthusiasts of art that photography was a new technique to prepare quality artwork that people should embrace and learn to enjoy. He used simple language that could be understood by the general public he said that he could understand how the photographs could be produced in such perfect forms despite being aware of the entire process. Wey said that he could only liken the product of photography to witchcraft. Such statement revealed that he considered the images from the art of photography as magical. That language was simple enough for anybody to imagine the kind of art photography was able to produce. Wey mentioned reality and dreams to enable people to understand that photography presented images as they were and in their highest quality compared to traditional paintings using mist and other features that compromise the clarity of an image being viewed.

Analysis and Evaluation

The thesis of the article was "to examine Wey's attempts to situate photography within a general aesthetic discourse in which traditional principles of harmony are reconciled with Realist aims." The main words that confirm that this was the thesis or the purpose of the article include the need to examine attempts.... (8), where the article elaborates further on his explanations concerning how photography has been able to achieve the harmonization of traditional elements of photography which are fantasy and reality. The argument in the article includes his claim that photography offered a clear image which cannot be achieved in the traditional painting techniques. Also, Hippolyte Bayard was mentioned as among the contributors of the images that Wey examined which makes the artist a sophisticated one to have won the interest of such a renowned critic and writer. The author used various university press release journals and books to present her information. The words that were used and considered key in the article included reality and fantasy, which the authors used appropriately. For instance, she interchanged fantasy and dreams and relativity with the surrounding environment.

The author concluded that photography was a new form of art and probably supersedes the traditional art. The argument was convincing especially the clarity and preciseness of the resultant images when compared with the traditional painting that not only could have missed some elements of the surrounding environment but also the clarity of the image.


Denton, Margaret. "Francis Wey and the Discourse of Photography as Art in France in the Early 1850s:'Rien n'est beau que le vrai; mais il faut le Choisir'." Art History 25, no. 5 (2002): 622-648.

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