How Did the Invention of Photography Affect the History of Painting?

did-invention-photography-affect-history-painting Credit: images by Tang Ming Tung/Moment/Getty Images

After the introduction of the daguerrotype, a precursor to the photograph, in 1939, French painter Paul Delaroche is said to have declared, "From today, painting is dead." In essence, however, what it produced was a widening of the scope of what painting could encompass in Western art.

Until that point in history, painting relied on fixed subjects and a process that took a certain amount of time to achieve the desired realistic result. Photography offered a new way of viewing the world in images that could capture fleeting, momentary effects of light and movement that were impossible under traditional studio conditions. Since the introduction of photography, Western painting has branched into the diverse genres of the modern era including impressionism, expressionism, surrealism, cubism and more. All of these modern forms of painting involve the depiction of a different way of visualizing reality.

By the late 19th century, many French artists, such as Pierre Bonnard and Edouard Vuillard, were using photographs to document subjects or effects and then produced paintings based on the photographs. From the early days of photography, painters also found inspiration in the medium. Edgar Degas and others included elements like under- and over-exposure and experimented with their own photography.

Photography is now considered its own art form, and many contemporary artists use both painting and photography in multimedia pieces,