Cloudy Sky, Mediterranean Sea, from the album “Vistas del Mar”

Gustave Le Gray1857

The Art Institute of Chicago

The Art Institute of Chicago
Chicago, United States

Trained in Paris as an academic painter, Gustave Le Gray gained renown for his revolutionary process of photographing seascapes. Because of technical limitations, photography could not satisfactorily depict sky and sea simultaneously; in a single image, the sky would appear washed out, while the water looked too dark. Le Gray resolved this shortcoming by combining two negatives (one for sea and one for sky) made at different exposure times. Although this solution represented a manipulation of photographic technique, rather than being understood as duplicitous, it was seen as an expansion of the medium’s possibilities. Looking back at the most significant accomplishments in photography of 1857–58, Marc-Antoine Gaudin, a critic for the journal “La lumière,” proclaimed Le Grey’s seascapes “the event of the year.” This photograph was originally bound with others in a single album, “Vistas del Mar,” comprising an extremely rare collection of these seascapes.


  • Title: Cloudy Sky, Mediterranean Sea, from the album “Vistas del Mar”
  • Creator: Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
  • Date Created: 1857
  • Physical Dimensions: 30.9 × 41.7 cm
  • Type: Photograph
  • External Link: The Art Institute of Chicago
  • Media: Albumen print
  • Credit Line: The Art Institute of Chicago, Hugh Edwards Fund, 1971.577.2
  • Artist: Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)

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