Saturday Lecture: The invention of photography and its impacts on Modernism

Ref: C2422074

In 1839 and 1841, two different photographic processes were revealed to the public: the daguerreotype and the calotype. The new type of images thus produced challenged the art world's old habits. For example, what was to become of portrait painters when photographers could do a much better job in a fraction of the time and money? If photography could deliver greater accuracy in its rendition of the world, what of painting? We will first describe the invention of several photographic processes. We will then consider how painters used photographs and how they felt challenged by this new type of images. Finally, we will see how photographs encouraged painters to practice painting differently, helping them devise pictorial innovations.

Course aim

In this thought-provoking lecture we will come back on the invention of photography in 1839 and its first 50 years of existence. We will consider how this new type of images contributed to the development of modern art.

Do I need any particular skills or experience?

  • No skills or experience needed
  • This course is suitable for beginners and improvers

By the end of the course I should be able to:

  • Describe how photography was invented
  • Describe ways in which painters used photographic images
  • Discuss the impact the invention of photography had on modern painting

How will I be taught?

  • The WEA tutor will use a range of different teaching and learning methods and encourage you and the group to be actively involved in your learning

What kind of feedback can I expect?

  • A range of informal activities will be used by the tutor to see what you are learning which may include quizzes, question and answer, small projects and discussion

What else do I need to know?

  • Nothing else is needed

Pre-course work, reading and information sources

  • No pre reading or pre course work is required

What can I do next?

  • Progress to another WEA course

Download full course information sheet

Saturday Lecture: The invention of photography and its impacts on Modernism


This course is funded by the Greater London Combined Authority but is also open to residents of other areas.

As a registered charity, and to meet our funders’ requirements, we need to check a few things with you before you enrol. Please check the details below to ensure you meet the basic eligibility critiera:

  • You are paying the standard fee (with a credit or debit card) or you are on any of the qualifying benefits
  • You have a valid email address so that you can receive confirmation of your booking
  • You have been resident in the UK, EU or EEA for the last 3 years
  • You are aged 19 years or older on 1st September 2020
  • You declare that the address you provide is correct and that you will provide evidence of this and your eligibility to live and work in the UK
  • You have read and accept our standard terms and conditions

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