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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Francis Bruguière

Born: Francis Joseph Bruguiere 
Other: Francis Joseph Bruguière 
Dates:  1879, 16 October - 1945, 8 May
Born:  US, CA, San Francisco
Died:  UK, London
Active:  US
American experimental photographer working with multiple exposures and abstracts.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Francis Bruguière
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Bruguière is best remembered for his experimental photographs, made mostly after World War I in London. But before then, he produced pictorial work in the United States and was recognized by Alfred Stieglitz.
Francis Bruguière was born into a wealthy banking family, on October 16, 1879, in San Francisco, where he spent his youth. He attended an East Coast boarding school and traveled in Europe with his parents, gaining an appreciation for art, music, and poetry.
In 1905, he made an extended visit to New York, where he studied photography with the painter/photographer Frank Eugene, and met Alfred Stieglitz, who invited him into the exclusive band of pictorialists, the Photo-Secession. Bruguière experienced the 1906 San Francisco earthquake, but stayed in the city to paint and establish a photographic portrait studio. He was exhibiting his pictorial photographs by 1908, when some of them were included in an arts-and-crafts exhibition in Oakland. The juries for the traveling American Photographic Salons accepted his work four times between 1908 and 1911. Stieglitz included Bruguière’s work in the important 1910 International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography at Buffalo’s Albright Art Gallery. And, in 1912, a San Francisco art dealer gave him a solo exhibition.
Bruguière’s images were reproduced in the American Annual of Photography in 1910 and 1911. He also made appearances in Stieglitz’s exquisite quarterly, Camera Work. In 1915, Bruguière contributed to the issue that comprised essays by various individuals on "What 291 Means to Me," a tribute to Stieglitz’s gallery, formerly known as the Little Galleries of the Photo-Secession. The October 1916 issue of the magazine featured a photogravure by Bruguière, picturing a young woman shyly diverting her eyes from the photographer and rendered in soft focus. Two years later, Bruguière issued the book San Francisco, made up of his pictorial images of the city, interspersed with free prose.
By 1919, Bruguière’s family wealth had faltered, and he was forced into making money. He moved to New York, where he established a studio to make portraits for such magazines as Vogue, Vanity Fair, and Harper’s Bazaar, and also performed work for the Theatre Guild. Even earlier, he had begun experimenting with modernist imagery, first making multiple exposures, for instance, in 1912. In the early 1920s, he was producing light abstractions, in both color and black and white. And, by 1927, he was accomplished at producing photographs of cut paper that were particularly avant-garde.
In 1927, he presented a one-person exhibition of abstract photographs, paintings, and watercolors at the Art Center, in New York. The next year he moved to London and had a solo show of his photographs in Berlin, prompting the German Secession to make him an honorary member. Nineteen twenty-nine was also a stellar year for his career as a modernist photographer.
Eleven of his pictures were included in the revolutionary Film and Foto show in Stuttgart. In addition, Lance Sieveking used Bruguière’s cut-paper images to illustrate his book Beyond This Point, and a solo show of work from the project was seen at a London gallery.
During the next decade, Bruguière continued to make modernist work, often collaborating with others. In 1930, he and Oswell Blakeston made England’s first abstract film, titled Light Rhythms, and a few years later the two produced the book Few Are Chosen. With E. McKnight Kauffer, he created modernist advertising photographs. In 1937, he designed photomurals, using the work of other photographers, for the entrance to the British pavilion at the Paris Exposition. At this time, his personal creative work employed such effects and techniques as bas-relief, solarization, and cliché-verre.
Around 1940, Bruguière became enchanted with Yoga, Taoist scripture, and the writings of C. J. Jung. As his health began to deteriorate, he ceased photographing and moved to the small English village of Middleton Cheney. He died there of pneumonia in 1945, on the day that peace was declared in Europe. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
If you find any errors please email us details so they can be corrected as soon as possible.

Further research

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Francis Bruguière
Family history 
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Visual indexes

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Internet biographies

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Getty Research, Los Angeles, USA has an ULAN (Union List of Artists Names Online) entry for this photographer. This is useful for checking names and they frequently provide a brief biography. Go to website
Grove Art Online ( has a biography of this artist. 
[NOTE: This is a subscription service and you will need to pay an annual fee to access the content.]
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Internet resources

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Francis Bruguiere ... 

Printed biographies

The following books are useful starting points to obtain brief biographies but they are not substitutes for the monographs on individual photographers.

• Auer, Michele & Michel 1985 Encyclopedie Internationale Des Photographes de 1839 a Nos Jours / Photographers Encylopaedia International 1839 to the present (Hermance, Editions Camera Obscura) 2 volumes [A classic reference work for biographical information on photographers.] 
• Beaton, Cecil & Buckland, Gail 1975 The Magic Eye: The Genius of Photography from 1839 to the Present Day (Boston and Toronto: Little, Brown & Company) p.143 [Useful short biographies with personal asides and one or more example images.] 
• Capa, Cornell (ed.) 1984 The International Center of Photography: Encyclopedia of Photography (New York, Crown Publishers, Inc. - A Pound Press Book) p.83-84 
• Coke, Van Deren with Diana C. Du Pont 1986 Photography: A Facet of Modernism (New York: Hudson Hills Press, The San Francisco Museum of Art) p.169 
• Fernandez, Horacio (ed.) 2000 Fotografía Pública: Photography in Print 1919-1939 (Aldeasa) p.72 [This Spanish exhibition catalogue is one of the best sources for illustrations of photomontage and book design for the period between the two World Wars.] 
• Witkin, Lee D. and Barbara London 1979 The Photograph Collector’s Guide (London: Secker and Warburg) p.99-100 [Long out of print but an essential reference work - the good news is that a new edition is in preparation.] 

Useful printed stuff

If there is an analysis of a single photograph or a useful self portrait I will highlight it here.

• Gruber, Renate and L. Fritz Gruber 1982 The Imaginary Photo Museum (New York: Harmony Books) p.242 
• Newhall, Beaumont 1982 The History of Photography - Fifth Edition (London: Secker & Warburg) [One or more photographs by Francis Bruguière are included in this classic history.] 
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