Broken Stones. Ruins and the Picturesque in Vintage Photography

15.03.2012 • 05.05.2012

Broken Stones. Ruins and the Picturesque in Vintage Photography

Broken Stones. Ruins and the Picturesque in Vintage Photography installation view


A broken stone has necessarily more various forms in it than a whole one; a bent roof has more various curves in it than a straight one; every excrescence or cleft involves some additional complexity of light and shade, and every stain of moss on eaves or wall adds to the delightfulness of colour. Hence in a completely picturesque object, as an old cottage or mill, there are introduced, by various circumstances not essential to it, but, on the whole, generally somewhat detrimental to it as cottage or mill, such elements of sublimity - complex light and shade, varied colour, undulatory form, and so on - as can generally be found only in noble natural objects, woods, rocks, or mountains. This sublimity, belonging in a parasitical manner to the building, renders it, in the usual sense of the word, "picturesque." - John Ruskin

James Hyman Photography is pleased to present an exhibition that explores the theme of the ruin in vintage photography by juxtaposing vintage works by some of the most important early French and British photographers with images of destruction in the Second World War. The exhibition begins with photographs taken by Gustave Le Gray in the Middle East and Roger Fenton of the Crimean War that address the status of the ruin both as the result of the passage of time and of the ravages of war. The exhibition explores these two aspects - the effects of the elements and of man - through a selection of works by, among others, Eugene Atget, Edouard Baldus, Roger Fenton, Gustave Le Gray and Henri-Victor Regnault.

The exhibition also addresses the development of a picturesque of ruins in photography that drew from conventions in painting, and that found expression in early photographs of Roman ruins in France and Italy and Egyptian ruins in the Middle East.

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