“THE IRREVOCABLE LINK BETWEEN TECHNIQUE AND THE MEANING OF IMAGES”: LÉCUYER’S MONUMENTAL HISTOIRE DE LA PHOTOGRAPHIE, WITH HUNDREDS OF ILLUSTRATIONS AND PHOTOGRAPHIC PLATES
LÉCUYER, Raymond. Histoire de la photographie. Paris: Baschet et Cie, 1945. Folio, original blind-stamped blue-green cloth, marbled endpapers, original lorgnon bicolore (3-D glasses) housed in front pastedown pocket. $700.
First edition of this definitive French history, describing in extraordinary visual detail photography’s earliest developments through to its revolutionary impact on space exploration, with a rich history of printing methods and innovators such as Niépce and Muybridge, and a survey of artistic, scientific and journalistic highlights, featuring hundreds of black-and-white and color illustrations, including an original 1932 8-1/2 by 12 inch print, a full-page framed image of a calotype negative and its positive print, and the volume’s original “lorgnon bicolore” for viewing several three-dimensional images within.
One of the earliest and most comprehensive 20th-century studies of photography, this beautifully illustrated Histoire de la photographie succeeded Beaumont Newhall’s 1937 survey, which had focused only on “photographic categories regarded as artistic… It fell to Raymond Lécuyer to attempt, in 1945, to show the irrevocable link between technique and the meaning of images. The effect was to recognize that photography had achieved an immediate maturity, contemporary with its invention” (Frizot, 10). In addition, “there was only one history of photography—that of Raymond Lécuyer—available in France” from its publication in 1945 to 1967, thus providing European photographers with a distinctive sense of their unique role in the development of this young technology—and art (American Photography in France). This landmark folio history, with text in French, is arranged both chronologically and thematically, providing a sumptuous and informative record that provides conclusive evidence of the medium’s key impact in establishing “the visual foundation of modern society” (Frizot, 13). Rarely found complete, given the frequent excision of plates.
Text and plates fresh and bright with only light scattered foxing. An about-fine copy of this important photographic history.