The Centenary of Photography

The Academy, invited to take part in this ceremony marking the centenary of a truly French invention, indeed one of the most admirable to emerge in the course of the nineteenth century, could not fail to pay its own respects tour great compatriots who hit on the principle of photography and were the first to fix an image of visible objects by employing the very light those objects reflect.

We, however, are a Society devoted particularly to the cult of Letters, which at first glance show no obvious affinity to photography, nor do they appear to be more affected by it in spirit or practice than by many other products of human ingenuity.

We all know that drawing, painting, and the imitative arts as a who were able to exploit this power of a sensitized plate to capture forms instantaneously. Directly the process of fixation made it possible to study, at one’s leisure, beings in motion, a great many errors of observation came to light: the renderings of certain artist, persuaded that they had caught a horse’s gallop or a bird’s flight, were proved, but this means, to be utterly fanciful. Thanks to photography, the eye grew accustomed to anticipate what it should see, and to see it; and it learned not to see nonexistent things which, hitherto, it had seen so clearly.

Yet, this possession of the means of reproducing natural and living appearances through a simple transformation of physical energy seems to have had no certain effect on Letters nor to offer them any marked advantage.

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