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Gustave Le Gray 
The Breaking Wave 
[Album "Vistas del Mar"] 
Albumen print 
41.4 × 33.6 cm (image/paper); 64.5 × 50.8 cm (album page) 
Art Institute of Chicago 
Hugh Edwards Fund, Reference Number: 1971.577.10 
(Curatorial description, Accessed: 12 August 2021)
Trained as a painter before taking up photography around 1847, Gustave Le Gray was highly regarded for his composition as well as his technique. His seascapes, which were publicly exhibited in London and Paris in 1857 to great acclaim, displayed his technical mastery: he combined two negatives—one exposed for the sea, the other for the sky—to render a scene otherwise unable to be captured photographically. Moreover, Le Gray managed to arrest a breaking wave in this dramatic vertical image, an accomplishment almost unheard of at a time when exposures required several seconds. This photograph comes from an extremely rare album of Le Gray’s seascapes possibly assembled for a Spanish patron. 

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