Oscar Gustav Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813–1875)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 16.8 x 22.1 cm (6 5/8 x 8 11/16 in.)
Mount: 21.2 x 28.9 cm (8 3/8 x 11 3/8 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005
Not on view
Oscar Gustav Rejlander took up the camera in 1853 because he could not support himself from the proceeds of his portrait paintings. Although he photographed nudes, expressive heads, and other subjects for painters to copy, he pursued his own art as well. To that end he concocted elaborate genre scenes and moral allegories that made him famous (and when tastes shifted, infamous), but he also made photographic portraits that have yet to go out of style. Behind his London house Rejlander built an unusual studio with five oddly shaped, judiciously placed windows that gave him virtual command of his illumination. Like a film director Rejlander posed his sitters informally and obliquely in the filtered light, sparing them the glare and self-conscious interrogation of direct camera confrontation. The freshness and vivacity he thus achieved are evident in this portrait of a brother and sister, gazing as on their future in a glowing hearth. Clasped in affectionate embrace, the well-dressed Constable children had clearly attended that "school of sympathy, tenderness, and loving forgetfulness of self" which was the ideal Victorian family.
Inscription: Signed and inscribed in ink on mount, recto BL: "O.G. Rejlander"; BR: "Mr. & Miss Constable 1866"
[Janet Lehr, New York, by 1989]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, February 29, 1989
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.
Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.
National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Julia Margaret Cameron," August 19, 2013–January 5, 2014.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Photographs. "Grand Illusions: Staged Photography from the Collection," August 10, 2015–November 15, 2015.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. no. 22.