New Realities: 19th century photography

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April 10, 2017

New Realities: 19th century photography

This summer, a major retrospective of 19th-century photography will be presented at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A collection of three hundred photos will show how varied photography was immediately after its invention in 1839.

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This summer, a major retrospective of 19th-century photography will be presented at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam. A collection of three hundred photos will show how varied photography was immediately after its invention in 1839.

New Realities will include portraits, nudes, cityscapes and travel photos, as well as scientific and commercial photography and the first amateur snapshots. The exhibition will feature work from leading photographers like William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Roger Fenton and Gustave Le Gray, alongside anonymous surprises which have never previously been shown. Anna Atkins, the first woman photographer, is considered one of the highlights of the exhibition. Dutch photographers George Hendrik Breitner and Willem Witsen will also be represented.

Revolutionary medium

Today, photography is a universal language that everyone speaks and understands, but this was far from the case in the early days of the medium. There is a vast contrast between the casual snapshots of today and the experiments of the earliest photographers, which took such great effort to produce. Photography introduced an entirely new way of seeing and representing reality.

New Realities

The exhibition will demonstrate how people used the camera, from personal life to the scientific world. New Realities will cast light on how photography established its position as an artistic medium, initially with subjects and compositions derived from painting.