My Cousin Andre Haguet, c. 1902

“My Cousin Andre Haguet, c. 1902

In Front of the Lens

In front of the lens are Lartigue’s family and friends. Much of the charm surrounding his photographs come from their spontaneous feel – as if he is capturing a light-hearted moment of joy or excitement with those he is closest to rather than a meticulously staged piece. His subjects are running and jumping, they, and the photographs, exude an irrepressible spirit and joie de vivre.

Guitty (Marguérite Bourcart) jugando en la orilla La Barre de L'Adour, Biarritz 1905

Guitty (Marguérite Bourcart) jugando en la orilla La Barre de L’Adour, Biarritz 1905

Bichonnade Leaping, 1905

Bichonnade Leaping, 1905

Behind the Lens

Jacques-Henri Lartigue (1894-1986) was given a camera at the age of 8 and from then on documented every aspect of his life. However, Lartigue thought of himself primarily as a painter and began painting to earn a living in 1918. It was not until 1963, at the age of 69, that he was ‘discovered’ as a photographer. A selection of his work was exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art, New York. In 1974 he was commissioned by the President of France, Valéry Giscard d’Estaing, to take his official portrait. Yet, perhaps most valuable are his amazing body of photographs that filled numerous albums which documented the beauty and spontaneity of those that surrounded him, and the beauty and spontaneity of life itself. In 1979 he donated his work to the French nation, becoming the first living photographer to do so.

Lartigue's brother Zissou, 1905

Lartigue’s brother Zissou, 1905

M. Plitt teaching his dog Tupy to jump over a brook,  1911

M. Plitt teaching his dog Tupy to jump over a brook, 1911

St. Moritz, 1913

St. Moritz, 1913

Rico Broadwater, Gugy Kuhn, and Lisbeth Thomas on a pedal-boat, Deauville, 1917

Rico Broadwater, Gugy Kuhn, and Lisbeth Thomas on a pedal-boat, Deauville, 1917

Skier's tumble, Chamonix 1919

Skier’s tumble, Chamonix 1919

Suzane Lengien, Nice, 1921

Suzane Lengien, Nice, 1921 

Storm in Nice, France, 1925

Storm in Nice, France, 1925

Sala au rocher de la vierge, Biarritz, 1927

Sala au rocher de la vierge, Biarritz, 1927

Jeannine Lehmann, Royan, 1926

Jeannine Lehmann, Royan, 1926

Vera, Villepion, Arlette and Bibi, Cannes, 1927

Vera, Villepion, Arlette and Bibi, Cannes, 1927

Bibi, Arlette and Irene Tormenta, Cannes, 1927

Bibi, Arlette and Irene Tormenta, Cannes, 1927

1938

1938

The Bigger Picture

Jacques-Henri Lartigue continued his work as a photographer, painter and writer until his death in Nice on September 12 1986, he was 92 years old. He left behind more than 100,000 photographs, 7,000 pages of diary and 1,500 paintings.

Water skiing championships, Juan-les-Pins, September, 1938

Water skiing championships, Juan-les-Pins, September, 1938

About The Author

Avatar of Sophia
Assistant Curator

Sophia joined the Retronaut team as a researcher in 2014. After graduating from Liverpool in 2013 with a BA in Ancient History, she moved to London and now works at Bletchley Park as a volunteer archivist. From test shots of Lauren Bacall to space suits for dogs, working for Retronaut means that Sophia can keep exploring the moments where history, culture and photography collide.

2 Responses

  1. Jimmy A

    The photograph of the gentleman throwing the dog over the stream is my favourite – a comic gem.

    Reply

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