Gustave Gain and other pioneers of early color photography now at Musée de Normandie.

 Gustave Gain, Jeune fille accoudée à un mur, date unknown

I wish I had time to write a better post about Autochrome Lumière photography and the amazing life and images that Gustave Gain led and left. I first saw these images in the book  “Couleurs sensibles, photographies autochromes de Gustave Gain”, after my beau-parents had bought it at an exposition of autochrome photography currently showing at the Musée de Normandie in Caen. I was immediately transported by the sheer beauty of these stills and enthralled by his fascinating life story.

Born in 1876 in Cherbourg, Gustave Gain belonged to a family of scientists, world travelers and photographers. In addition to his career as a chemist at the Museum of Natural History in Paris, he practiced with talent the art of photography. The invention of Autochrome in the early twentieth century allowed a new access to the world of color. The collection presented in this book provides valuable insights into the past. Each landscape, each still life, each portrait, is composed with such a sensitive eye, much like a painter’s canvas. – Translated from

 Gustave Gain, Nature morte aux fleurs et fruits d’été
 Gustave Gain, Pierre Gain en élève studieux au balcon, circa 1909
 Gustave Gain, Géranium à la fenêtre

Colour was a latecomer to the practice of photography. It was not introduced until the invention of the autochrome process as developed by the Lumière brothers. Production on an industrial scale and, from 1907, its marketing led to a new way of viewing the world and of composing pictures. This is how photography walked in the footsteps of the Impressionists, for whom colour was central to their art. The “En couleurs et en lumière” exhibition will be presenting a selection of autochromes taken from some prestigious public and private collections (Musée d’Orsay, Société Française de Photographie, Cinémathèque Robert Lynen, Musée Albert-Kahn, Archives Départementales de la Manche). Photographed for the first time in colour, landscapes, monuments, portraits and genre scenes provide an unusual illustration of the tenuous links between colour photography, Impressionism and Neo-Impressionism. – Musée de Normandie

Gustave Gain, Pêcheuses sur la plage, Siouville-Hague (Manche)
  Gustave Gain, Plage de Diélette, Flamanville (Manche), circa 1920
 Gustave Gain, Adeline Gain, circa 1910

My belle mere’s family is from the region just south of Cherbourg where all the coastal shots  were taken. I love being able to recognise the beaches of Sciotot and Diélette and am totally in awe of the very formal garb they wear. Like my belle mère would say “Elles étaient chic à l’époque!”.

Gustave Gain, La route longeant la jalousie, circa 1908
Gustave Gain, autoportrait, self portrait

Links/further reading:

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1 Comment

  1. Alex

     /  September 26, 2013

    super beau !!!


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