From Sermons in Stones is a limited edition publication to accompany the exhibition From Sermons in Stones to Monsters of Modernity. Early French Photography and the Church.
The publication was first premiered at the exhibition's preview at AIPAD 2012, and has been reprinted on the occasion of the expanded exhibition at the gallery in May.
The publication includes an essay by Dr. James Hyman, as well as a presentation of the most substantial exhibitions of rare, early salt prints ever staged by a commercial gallery in London.
The title references the religious significance of the portal programmes of Gothic cathedrals with their multiple biblical scenes as well as the gargoyles of Notre Dame that were the mid-nineteenth century invention of Viollet-le-Duc.
The essay traces the ways in which the great Gothic churches and cathedrals of France were placed at the heart of their work by the most important French photographers of the 1840s and 1850s.
The artists presented include Edouard Baldus, Edmond Bacot, Hippolyte Bayard, Bisson Fe, Gustave le Gray, Ange Mailand, Pierre Manguin, Charles Marville, Charles Negre, Emile Pecarrere (Em. Pec.), Henri Le Secq, and Varin Freres.
In the publication, Hyman argues that daemons of science, positivism and modernism have conspired to obscure spirituality and humanism by equating photography with realism and photography of architecture with a merely documentary function.'"
Instead he proposes that
"The Gothic revival of the mid nineteenth century and specifically the legacy of Victor Hugo's novel, Notre Dame de Paris (1831) provided a lead towards a creative, subjective, even fantastic approach to the photographic motif. Whilst it may be more comfortable to ally early photographers, first to the enlightenment and then to Modernism, the preponderance of religious images suggests something more complex in their negotiation between the forces of church and state. The more one engages with content, as well as technique and form, the more one appreciates that the first years of photography in France - from patronage to production - are inextricably linked with a revived interest not just in France's cultural patrimonie, and specifically a renewed appreciation of this Gothic ecclesiastical past, but also religious revivalism.'"