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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Louis Crette

Other: Luigi Cretté 
Other: Luigi Lodoisch Crette 
Dates:  1823 - 1872
Born:  Kingdom of Sardinia, Nice [now France]
Active:  France / Italy
Few biographical details are known about this photographer. He was born in Nice in 1823 and it seems that he started to photograph while there. He showed works in London (1852) Paris (1855) always with the patronage of Antoine Claudet. He was also a contemporary of Le Gray whom he knew.
The exact date that he started working in Turin is not certain but he took salt paper prints of Vittorio Emanuele II (1820–1878) and other Turin dignitaries including Camillo Benso, conte di Cavour (1810-1861) prior to 1860. On 5 July 1861 he took the place of photographer Luigi Montabone at a studio at Via della Rocca # 47/49 in Turin where he worked until the end of 1865. He then took the place of the photographer Balbiano d'Aramengo in Via di Po #39 in Turin and this studio was taken by the photographer Greborio in 1867.
[Additional information provided by Marco C. Antonetto]

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Louis or Luigi Crette
French, 1823-1872

Called the "Le Gray of Nice," Crette was active as a photographer in Rome on the via della Rocca, during the early 1850s and was also a portraitist to King Victor-Emmanuel. At the exposition of London in 1852, his work was supported by Antoine Claudet. Around 1858, he was established in Nice, where he achieved some views that stand as examples of his great mastery. In 1862, he was established at 5, rue Saint-Etienne (as referenced in G. Calmette, Annuaire des Alpes-Maritimes, 1862). In 1866, he opened a studio in Rome, via Po, #39. He lived the rest of his life in Turin. Crette spent some time with Le Gray during his voyage to the south of France in 1859-60.
The above is a modified transcription from the French in Sylvie Aubenas, Gustave Le Gray, 1820-1884, (Paris: Bibliotheque nationale de France, 2002) 162, note 37. In Aubenas's book, there seems to be some confusion about Crette and whether or not Crette Romet is the same person. The latter seems to have been a painter in Paul Delaroche's studio and the former, a photographer working in the south of France, yet they are referenced under the same index entry in the back of the Le Gray monograph (from Russell Lord, Hans Kraus Gallery).
Crette exhibited in 1852, London, Society of Arts. His exhibit number was 453 and the full title of his work on display was "Chateau of Chillon" (process: wax paper). The exhibitor was a Mr. Claudet (Photographic Exhibitions in Britain 1839-1865: Records from Victorian Exhibition Catalogues, see reference below).
In May of 1860, Crette visited with Le Gray and Alphonse Karr, a friend and neighbor, in Nice. Earlier in the month, Le Gray had boarded a ship with Alexandre Dumas for a tour of the Mediterranean. The following day after the old friends' initial meeting, Crette and Le Gray took several photographs of a group luncheon. A member of that group, poet Theodore de Banville, wrote, "Crette and Le Gray implored us to face their camera, and as I write this, I am casting an eye at their marvelous miniature, which is as big as an ordinary letter, and which contains one hundred portraits of vivid resemblance." According to Janis, none of these images taken by Le Gray and Crette have ever surfaced, though a unique photograph exists of a garden that might be Karr's property. This photo is housed in the Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris, dated 1860 by the library (Janis, 129-130, 164-165, 173; photograph p. 127). It was said that Le Gray and Crette took "three or four photographs of the rose arbor, of the guests that it sheltered, of our host, [and] of charming little Jeanne [Karr's daughter]" (Aubenas, 162-163).
Among many scientists and artists, Crette went to Le Gray's studio in Paris to experiment with silver nitrate. Aubenas states that Crette would later become photographer to the King of Piedmont (338).
From Etudes Photographique from the SFP: 89 "Fête de l'empereur français à Milan, décoration de la cathédrale. D'après une photographie de M. L. Crette, photographe du roi de Sardaigne", L'Illustration, n° 161, 27 août 1859, p. 161
"Tableaux et sculptures [D'après les photographies de M. Trantoul, à Toulouse.]", L'Illustration, n°810, 4 sept. 1858, p. 149
Russell Lord, Hans Kraus Gallery
Photographic Exhibitions in Britain 1839-1865: Records from Victorian Exhibition Catalogues, web site:
Eugenia Parry Janis. The Photography of Gustave Le Gray Chicago: The University of Chicago Press, 1987 (This book accompanied an exhibition on Le Gray held at The Art Institute of Chicago, Sept. 18 to Dec. 6, 1987)
Sylvie Aubenas, et. al. Gustave Le Gray: 1820-1884 Los Angeles: Getty Publications, 2002 (This book accompanied the exhibit, "Gustave Le Gray, photographe (1820-1884)," Manzart and Mazarine galleries, Paris, March 19 to June 16, 2002)
Lempertz, Photography Catalog on-line, April 2006:
Artnet, auction results:
[Contributed by Lee Gallery]  

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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
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