Jacques Henri Lartigue was born near Paris on 13 June 1894. When he was seven years old, he was given a camera which stimulated an interest in photography. However, he was destined for a formal art training and by the end of World War I was working as a full-time artist. Painting, in fact, was his profession. The pictures that he took as a child and a young man were very much personal records of family, friends and events – indeed snapshots might seem a fair description. However, his painter’s eye gave them a quality and insight that made them quite unique.
Although much of their present appeal lies in their nostalgic and historic value, it is Lartigue’s perception that has made them much more than mere snapshots.
Jacques Henri Lartigue was obviously fascinated by movement and the camera’s ability to freeze and record passing moments and his approach to photography is quite different to that required by painting. He made little or no attempt to control or compose his pictures in an ‘arty’ way. While the preoccupation of many contemporary photographers was to make their photographs appear as much like paintings as possible, Lartigue’s pleasure lay in the uniquely spontaneous qualities of the camera. In addition to the more commonplace black and white images of the period, he also experimented with color photography and produced some equally evocative images using the auto chrome process.
He died on 12 September 1986.