The J. Paul Getty Museum

The Infant Photography Giving the Painter an Additional Brush

Object Details


The Infant Photography Giving the Painter an Additional Brush


Oscar Gustave Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813 - 1875)




London, England (Place Created)


about 1856


Albumen silver print

Object Number:



6 × 7.1 cm (2 3/8 × 2 13/16 in.)

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Object Description

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.


Samuel Wagstaff, Jr., American, 1921 - 1987, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Experimental Photography: The Painter-Photographer (July 5, 1989 to October 7, 1990)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), July 5 to September 26, 1989
  • Williams College Museum of Art (Williamstown), July 28 to October 7, 1990
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
In Focus: Making a Scene (June 30 to October 18, 2009)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), June 30 to October 18, 2009
The Pre-Raphaelite Lens: British Photography and Painting, 1848-1875 (October 31, 2010 to May 29, 2011)
  • National Gallery of Art (Washington, D.C.), October 31, 2010 to January 30, 2011
  • Musée d'Orsay (Paris), March 6 to May 29, 2011
Oscar Rejlander: Artist Photographer (October 19, 2018 to June 9, 2019)
  • National Gallery of Canada (Ottawa), October 19, 2018 to February 3, 2019
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), March 12 to June 9, 2019

The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Collections. 7th ed. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2007), p. 299, ill.

Pauli, Lori; with essays by Jordan Bear, Karen Hellman, and Phillip Prodger. Oscar G. Rejlander: Artist Photographer. (Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada; New Heaven: Yale University Press, 2018), p. 232.