Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon

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Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon
Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon self-portrait, c1860.png
Self-portrait, c. 1860
Born(1818-01-09)9 January 1818
Died28 April 1881(1881-04-28) (aged 63)
Resting placeFontainebleau
Other namesExhibited in the Salon as "Adama" (1844 and 1848).
OccupationSculptor, portrait photographer
OrganizationSociété Française de Photographie
Georgine Cornélie Coutellier
(m. 1850; died 1878)
AwardsLégion d'honneur, 1870

Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon (9 January 1818 – 28 April 1881)[1] was a French sculptor and photographer.

Early career[edit]

Antoine Samuel Adam-Salomon was born to a French Jewish family on 9 January 1818 in La Ferté-sous-Jouarre, Seine-et-Marne, France. His father, Nathan-Herschel Salomon, intended for Antoine to have a career as a merchant.[2] Following a brief career as a modeler for the Jacob Petit pottery factory in Fontainebleau, he received a scholarship to study sculpture in Paris. He also traveled for studies to Switzerland and England.[3] His notable sculptures include busts of Victor Cousin, Odilon Barrot, Pierre-Jean de Béranger, Alphonse de Lamartine, Gioachino Rossini, and Marie Antoinette.[4]


After becoming established as a sculptor, Adam-Salomon studied photography under the portraitist Franz Hanfstaengl in Munich in 1858. He became a leading portrait photographer. Adam-Salomon returned to Paris where he opened a portrait studio in 1859; in 1865 he opened a second Paris studio.[5] In 1870 Adam-Salomon was made a member of the Société française de photographie and received the Légion d'honneur the same year.[6] Adam-Salomon's portrait photographs were considered to be among the best existing works during his lifetime, and were renowned for their chiaroscuro produced by special lighting techniques.[7]

Acceptance of photography as art[edit]

The photography of Adam-Salomon played a pivotal role in the mainstream acceptance of photography as an art form. For example, in 1858 the poet Alphonse de Lamartine described photography as "this chance invention which will never be art, but only a plagiarism of nature through a lens." A short time later, after seeing the photographs by Adam-Solomon, Lamartine changed his opinion.[8]

Critical praise[edit]

Coverage of Salomon's work in the French press outnumbered that of Félix Nadar by a ratio of ten to one. After the Paris Exposition of 1867, the reviewer for The Times (UK) described Salomon's pictures "matchless", "beyond praise," "the finest photographic portraits in the world."[9]

In the 1868 edition of the British Journal of Photography Almanac, editor J. Traill Taylor wrote:

The important discovery of the past year has been that M. Adams-Salomon, a Parisian photographer, has produced portraits of so high class as to show us the true capabilities of photography, and how much we have yet to overcome ere similar perfection can be claimed for the works of our average artists. It is far from being pleasant to know that we are so far behind the Parisians; but, believing such to be the case, the knowledge of the fact will, without doubt, rouse English artists to a sense of their shortcomings and the particular direction in which progress must be made.[10]

Selected works[edit]

Personal life[edit]

In 1850, Adam-Salomon married Georgine Cornélie Coutellier, a fellow artist. Coutellier was born a Christian, but converted to Judaism upon marrying Adam-Salomon, and embraced the Hebrew faith until her death in February 1878.[11] They had no children together.


  1. ^ "Antoine-Samuel Adam-Salomon". Ottawa: National Gallery of Canada. Archived from the original on 27 September 2011. Retrieved 1 September 2020.
  2. ^
  3. ^ Weill, Julien (1906). "ADAM-SALOMON, ANTONY SAMUEL". Jewish Encyclopedia. Kopelman Foundation. Retrieved 31 August 2020.
  4. ^ Berlioz, p139; Waters, p4.
  5. ^ Union List of Artists' Names
  6. ^ Turner, Grove Dictionary of Art.
  7. ^ Hannavy, p. 6.
  8. ^ Jay, p. 138.
  9. ^ Buerger, p. 56.
  10. ^ Taylor, p6.
  11. ^ Singer, Isidore; Adler, Cyrus (1901). "The Jewish Encyclopedia: A Descriptive Record of the History, Religion, Literature, and Customs of the Jewish People from the Earliest Times to the Present Day".


External links[edit]