Artist: Adolphe Braun (French, Besançon 1811–1877 Dornach)
Date: ca. 1854
Medium: Albumen silver print from glass negative
Dimensions: 37.5 x 41.9 cm (14 3/4 x 16 1/2 in.)
Credit Line: Gift of Gilman Paper Company, in memory of Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr., 1987
Accession Number: 1987.1161
Unlike many nineteenth-century photographs primarily intended as scientific records, this elegant flower study was meant for commercial application and only later was valued for its completeness and compositional finesse. Braun began his career as a draftsman at a large textile firm; in 1848 he opened his own photographic studio, where he produced images to be used as models by artists and designers.
Perhaps stirred by a gentle breeze during the long exposure, several of the blossoms (roses of Sharon and common roses) registered with a slight blurriness, making them appear almost to breathe and to reach beyond the dimensions of the photograph. Carefully arranged and photographed against a medium gray background, the petals, leaves, and stems are rendered with an exquisite clarity and tonal richness, masterfully recording their texture and fragility.