Salt print from a paper negative
23 x 30 cms (9.04 x 11.79 ins)
1854 JHG5681 signed and annotated 'p. 19' in the negative
Mounted on bristol paper with a reference and annotation in pencil on the lower right.
Literature: Plate 19 of a series of studies on vegetation entitled 'Paysages'. Referenced in the Musée d'Orsay's archives of Egyptologist and fellow photographer Deveria, who was bequeathed Greene's negatives: ''Au dessus de Louxor''.
J.B. Greene's life was short, yet it includes some of the boldest compositions and most dramatic landscapes of any early photographer. One of J.B. Greene's most well known pictures, this study typifies Greene's aesthetic in which the greatest monuments are often rendered obliquely and are poetically evoked rather than being depicted directly or overtly. In his studies of nature, this ability to respond instinctively resulted in pictures such as the present one in which the most unpromising and unremarkable view of some trees results in a picture that continues to intrigue and engage to this day.
Andre Jammes and Eugenia Parry Janis, writing in The Art of the French Calotype noted: Greenes work is atypical...His monuments and especially landscapes seem distinctly distant. Nor do they really seem to be of anything in the normal sense. Greene also had an exceptional attitude toward the representation of landscape space. In the manner of Chinese landscape painters on scrolls, his lens seems to scan a terrain rather than extract it as a fixed whole from a single vantage point. The effect of this is greatly heightened by the emphasis on tonal nuance and an interest in slender sketches of transparent land masses rather than the usual emphasis on a solid monument surrounded by a site.
In Greenes pictures, the monuments and the sites are organically fused and seem made of the same stuff. At age twenty-two, such insights were precocious in the extreme, and his invention regarding expanses of uncharted space takes on greater meaning in the light of the evidence that seems to place him in an American context. It had been rather difficult to imagine an insular English sensibility capable of conceiving such boundless horizons in photography. (p. 1212, no. 186)
Bruno Jammes was responsible for the reemergence of factual information onf Greene. In an article published in the journal History of Photography (vol. 5, no. 4, October 1981, pp. 305-324) titled John B. Greene, an American Calotypist, Jammes traces the few known sources on Greenes life and career and discovers others, illustrating the essay with more than a dozen views by the photographer and Egyptologist.