Musée d'Orsay: Lady Filmer Photomontage

Lady Filmer

Lady Mary Georgiana Caroline Filmer (1840-1903)
Circa 1864
Albumen print, gouache, ink, pencil on paper
H. 25.7; W. 23 cm
© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski

Photo-montage [Photomontage]

Lady Filmer, a member of Victorian "society" practised photomontage as art brut before the term was invented. She is known to have produced several albums full of fantasy and humour with watercolour scenes decorated with photomontages. This plate comes from one of these albums, taken apart in the 1970s, and is mainly about the royal family and the Prince of Wales, the future Edward VII.

This type of collage immediately brings to mind those by another young British woman, Lady Georgiana Berkeley, whose "Lewis Carroll" style anticipated the surrealist collages. But with the geometric look and the motif on her umbrella, with heads hanging off it like pompoms, this creation by Lady Filmer also prefigures the constructivist photomontages, in particular those of Moholy-Nagy and Rodchenko. It is quite possible that the Surrealists and the Constructivists knew these works, even if their direct sources for photomontage came mainly from the fantasy postcards of the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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