History of Food Photography – Part 4
While the first colour photograph appeared in 1861, colour photography in cookbooks waited until the 1930’s - colour printing was difficult. Colour food photography appeared as early as 1935, when Nickolas Murray first adapted the three-colour carbro process. McCall’s commissioned Murray to create colour photographs for their cooking and food pages. He used the colour carbro process to make rich and colourful photographs of food spreads for the magazine and for other advertisers through the 1950s. Within the context of commercial photography, the images’ rich colours grab the reader’s attention.
Nickolas Murray, Untitled, circa 1935
The image resembles Henry Fantin-Latour’s work. A key 19th century painter, he painted ‘Still Life: Corner of a Table’ in 1873 as his perception of a moment in bourgeois Parisian life, showing key indicators of class and lifestyle.
Henri Fantin Latour, Still life: Corner of a Table, 1873
His considered effort creates a natural, random arrangement of objects. His painting is detailed, realistic and reminiscent of still-life paintings from the 18th century by Jean Simeon Chardin (referred to in Part 2). Composition is clearly important. The plant in front fuses the items on the table, which stand out against the dark background, in contrast with the white tablecloth. This emphasises the objects and brings the viewers’ attention to the stunning effect of pink flowers reaching to the golden fruit in the dish above. Visual similarities in lifestyle, status and class are implied in both images and testify to a significant and perhaps even direct influence.