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Cloudy Sky, Mediterranean Sea

A work made of albumen print, no. 16 from the album "vistas del mar".
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of albumen print, no. 16 from the album "vistas del mar".




Gustave Le Gray
French, 1820–1884

About this artwork

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.


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Photography and Media


Gustave Le Gray


Cloudy Sky, Mediterranean Sea


France (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

Made 1857


Albumen print, No. 16 from the album "Vistas del Mar"


Signed recto, lower right, on image, in red pencil [?]: "Gustave Le Gray"; blind stamped recto, on album page, lower center: "PHOTOGRAPHIE / GUSTAVE LE GRAY & C / PARIS"; inscribed recto, on album page, lower left, in brown ink: "[illegible/cut off]"; printed recto, on paper affixed to album page, lower right, in black ink: "CIEL CHARGÉ_Mer Médit [erranée/cut off]; unmarked verso


Image/paper: 30.9 × 41.8 cm (12 3/16 × 16 1/2 in.); Album page: 50.8 × 64.2 cm (20 × 25 5/16 in.)

Credit Line

Hugh Edwards Fund

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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