The Infant Photography Giving the Painter an Additional Brush

Oscar Gustave Rejlanderabout 1856

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Oscar Rejlander's photograph could be read as a metaphor of his own career. The additional "brush" or image-making tool provided by photography to painters was evident from the beginnings of the medium. Many early practitioners arrived at photography from painting, as did Rejlander. Photographs were often thought of and used as sketching tools for painters. Although photographs never managed to signal the death of painting as initially predicted, they did frequently assume the function that drawing had traditionally held in relation to painting.

Compositionally, this is an unusual photograph. Rejlander employs a narrative device from painting: the use of figures, or parts of figures, as allegorical representations for ideas. A very young child represents the infant medium of photography. The Painter appears only as a hand extending into the frame at the upper left, although the traditional arts are also represented by the sculpture reproduction in the lower left corner. The Infant Photography, identified by the camera on which the child supports himself, faces away from the camera, his features totally obscured. The mirror behind the child gives a clear reflection of Rejlander at his camera, making this image.


  • Title: The Infant Photography Giving the Painter an Additional Brush
  • Creator: Oscar Gustave Rejlander
  • Date Created: about 1856
  • Location Created: London, England
  • Physical Dimensions: 6 × 7.1 cm (2 3/8 × 2 13/16 in.)
  • Type: Card photograph
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Albumen silver print
  • Terms of Use: Open Content
  • Number: 84.XP.458.34
  • Culture: British
  • Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Creator Display Name: Oscar Gustave Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813 - 1875)
  • Classification: Photographs (Visual Works)

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more


Google apps