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Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography

Posted on April 18, 2024 - By Getty Publications
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Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography
Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography

Rare Photographs Showcased in First English-Language Volume on Hippolyte Bayard

This new Getty title delves into the oeuvre of a pioneering, yet often overlooked, French photographer

Hippolyte Bayard (1801–1887) is often characterized as an underdog in the early history of photography. From the outset, his contribution to the invention of the medium was eclipsed by others such as Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) and William Henry Fox Talbot (1800–1877). However, Bayard had an undeniable role in the birth of photography and its subsequent evolution into a form of art. He was a pioneer in artistic style, innovator in terms of practice, and teacher of the next generation of photographers.

Alongside an exploration of Bayard’s decades-long career and lasting impact, Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography (J. Paul Getty Museum, $65) presents—for the first time in print—some of the earliest photographs in existence. Among the Getty Museum’s rarest and most treasured photographic holdings is an album containing nearly 200 images, 145 of those by or attributed to Bayard. Few of these prints have ever been seen in person due to the extreme light sensitivity of Bayard’s experimental processes, making this an essential reference for scholars and photography enthusiasts alike.

This volume accompanies an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum from April 9–July 7, 2024.

Karen Hellman is former associate curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum. Her work focuses on the early history of photography, primarily in Europe.

Carolyn Peter is assistant curator in the Department of Photographs at the J. Paul Getty Museum and author of “The Many Lives of the Getty's Bayard Album” (Getty Research Journal, February 2022)


Hippolyte Bayar

Windmills of Montmartre, 1842, Salted paper print © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust


''''Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography'' Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography is a groundbreaking addition to photographic history, serving as the first English-language volume dedicated to Bayard's pioneering work. Through meticulous research and elegant writing, the book provides readers with a clear narrative and detailed timeline of Bayard's life and career, as well as the major events of the era he lived in. It unveils some of the earliest photographs ever produced, shedding light on Bayard's often overlooked contributions. With precision, the volume traces Bayard's journey and artistic vision, offering insight into his profound impact on photography's evolution. His experiments with light and chemicals, as well as his diverse subjects such as portraits, gardens, flowers, and street scenes of Paris, underscore his curiosity and ingenuity for his time. The book presents a treasure trove of early photographs, making it an essential addition to the collection of any enthusiast or scholar eager to delve into the genesis of photography and discover the enduring brilliance of Hippolyte Bayard.

As a French photographer familiar with his work through prior publications and exhibitions, I must admit that ''Hippolyte Bayard and the Invention of Photography'' is the most detailed and rich book I have read thus far about this forgotten pioneer.
I highly recommend it; it should be in any photographer's library!''
Sandrine Hermand-Grisel, All About Photo


''At last we have a comprehensive book in the English language about one of the most interesting of photography’s pioneers. Incessantly experimental and an omnivorous picture maker, Hippolyte Bayard is a photographer who has stood the test of time: as this copiously illustrated book demonstrates, his work is as fascinating today as it was in the nineteenth century.''
Geoffrey Batchen, Professor of the History of Art, University of Oxford


Hippolyte Bayar

Arrangement of Flowers, ca. 1839–43 Salted paper negative © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust



Hippolyte Bayar

Rue Royale, Paris, ca. 1840–49 Salted paper print © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust


About Getty Publications:
Getty Publications produces award-winning titles that result from or complement the work of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Getty Conservation Institute, and Getty Research Institute. This wide variety of books covers the fields of art, photography, archaeology, architecture, conservation, and the humanities for both the general public and specialists. Publications include illustrated works on artists and art history, exhibition catalogues, works on cultural history, research on the conservation of materials and archaeological sites, scholarly monographs, critical editions of translated works, comprehensive studies of Getty's collections, and educational books on art to interest children of all ages.


Hippolyte Bayar

Building with an Arched Entry, ca. 1840–49 Salted paper print © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust



Hippolyte Bayar

Three Feathers ca. 1842-43, Cyanotype © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust



Hippolyte Bayar

Self-Portrait in the Garden, 1847 Salted paper print © Hippolyte Bayard, Courtesy J. Paul Getty Trust


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