Rare and extraordinary fine salt print of Constantine.
J.B. Greene's life was short, yet it includes some of the boldest compositions and most dramatic landscapes of any early photographer. His depictions of the hill town of Constantine, especially, frequently evoke Cezanne in their use of space, of light and dark, and flattening of form.
This image from Constantine is from Greene's last group of photographs executed in Algeria in 1855-56.
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 on 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.