Céline Gracieuse Laguarde

1873Biarritz, France | 1961Lausanne, Switzerland
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Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Girl with Carnation, 1905, full plate Halftone, private collection

French photographer.

Céline Laguarde’s work was recently rediscovered as part of the pictorialist movement, the first artistic one in the history of photography which originated in the late 19th century. She was one of the major figures of the French branch of this international movement at the start of the 20th century.
Born in the French Basque Country and relocated in Provence, C. Laguarde spent most of her life in Aix-en-Provence. Part of her career as a photographer was based in south-eastern France (particularly in Marseille and Nice). In 1901 she was accepted at the Salon du Photo-Club de Paris, the annual exhibition organized by the most prestigious French amateur association, which she joined as a member the following year. Through contact with its members she developed a preference for the most sophisticated and complex photographic processes of the time, primarily gum bichromate printing. Her masterful use of this pigment printing process earned her accolades from the critics, who saw in her a female and southern counterpart to Robert Demachy (1859-1936), the leader of artistic photography in France who first brought the process to prominence.

One of the main highlights of C. Laguarde’s career was her solo exhibition at the Casino de Nice in 1911. Her work had already undergone a visible shift at the time. While her practice over the previous decade was mostly dominated by studies of the female figure, and more broadly by a symbolist vein, her inspiration moved towards a more straightforward approach to portrait photography. Her effigies of male celebrities of the literary, artistic, musical and scientific worlds (including Maurice Barrès, Darius Milhaud, and Jean-Henri Fabre) – which reflected the company she kept and the diversity of her interests – made quite an impression at pre-war Salons. Such an orientation in this artistic genre, added to her status as a world-renowned female photographer, makes C. Laguarde’s case doubly exceptional in the field of French pictorialism.

International photographic periodicals reproduced many of her works until World War I, after which she almost completely cut herself off from the photography scene. Nearly a century would go by after her last successes until the public was able to rediscover some of her original prints at the exhibition Qui a peur des femmes photographes? 1839-1919 at the Musée de l’Orangerie in Paris in 2015. The following year, the Musée d’Orsay became the only public institution to hold a representative group of her photographs, most of which came from her private collection. An exhibition devoted to the rediscovery of C. Laguarde’s life and work, still largely unknown, is scheduled at the Musée d’Orsay for 2022.

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Thomas Galifot

Translated from French by Lucy Pons.

Publication made in partnership with musée d’Orsay.
© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions


© Archives of Women Artists, Research and Exhibitions
Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Stella, 1904, screen

Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Étude en brun, 1904, photogravure, first print series of 1904, board 21, private collection

Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Au Jardin Ensoleillé, c. 1905, private collection

Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Portrait de Mlle. S. de M., c. 1905, private collection

Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, Girl with Carnation, 1905, full plate Halftone, private collection

Céline Gracieuse  Laguarde — AWARE Women artists / Femmes artistes

Céline Laguarde, L’été, c. 1909, the Amateur Photographer & Photographic News, vol. L, 1305, p. 330, October 5th, 1909, private collection

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