Oscar Gustave Rejlander

Datesborn Sweden, 1813 - 1875
DiedLondon (?), England

Seeing the fold of a coat sleeve in a photographic portrait prompted Oscar Gustave Rejlander to give up painting for photography. In 1853 Rejlander, eager to learn the wet-collodion process of photography in just one day, paid a hurried visit to a photographer's studio in London. As implied in the name, the wet-plate glass negative had to be used while the collodion was still damp, and the process was not easy to master. Nevertheless, after a three-and-a-half-hour crash course in photography, Rejlander was turned loose.

Rejlander lived in the industrial town of Wolverhampton, England, and specialized in genre scenes of domestic life, using his friends and neighbors as models. Believing that photography would make painters more careful draftsmen, he earned a modest living making photographic studies for artists, probably including Sir Lawrence Alma Tadema. Rejlander is best known for his combination prints, elaborate genre and allegorical scenes made from multiple negatives carefully joined, printed on a single large sheet of paper, and then rephotographed to create a seamless image.