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Gelatin Silver Prints

Silver gelatin prints are photographs printed on plate or papers coated with a silver salt and gelatin solution. In 1871, glass plates were coated with the emulsion, which spreads easily over the surface like a glue film, and soon afterwards gelatin silver papers were produced commercially for more portability.

Silver chloride is particularly suited for contact printing, and by the 20th century, was the preferred photographic material for black and white prints. The most popular papers in use had been albumen coated, but gelatin silver prints tend to resist fading and yellowing better and supplanted this method fairly quickly. While early art photographers, such as the Pre-Raphaelites, shot deliberately in soft focus, favoring a blurred image that worked well with the albumen print process, silver gelatin papers were more suited to other effects.

Photographers in the early part of the 20th century preferred the glossy surface of silver gelatin prints, as many sought the sharpest detail and tone that the medium can provide. Though the gelatin silver print fell out of favor and were replaced by color methods, many contemporary photographers continue to use the silver gelatin process for the rich depth of tone and light and dark contrast they can achieve with the process.


Quick Facts

  • Edweard Muybridge, known for his motion photographs, intended to create a book of humans and animals in action, breaking down each millisecond of objects and bodies engaged in movement. His first success was to show a horse in gallop
  • Later experiments of Muybridge's were printed using the gelatin dry plate method, and the sharpness of the prints was suited for scientific study
  • When printing his Equivalents, abstract images of clouds and sky, Alfred Stieglitz chose to develop them as gelatin silver contact prints. The Equivalents were a reaction to prove his camera skills and laid the groundwork for the abstract photography of his contemporaries

Recommended Items at Auction

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Balthasar Burkhard, 1944-2010, Falkenflügel (Falcon Wing)
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Balthasar Burkhard, 1944-2010, Falkenflügel (Falcon Wing)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF8,000- CHF12,000
CHF7,0001 Bid
Albert Steiner, 1877-1965, Bei Hotel Jungfrau auf Wengernalp
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Albert Steiner, 1877-1965, Bei Hotel Jungfrau auf Wengernalp
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF600- CHF900
CHF5000 Bids
Seydou Keïta, 1921-2001, Untitled (Two Men)
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Seydou Keïta, 1921-2001, Untitled (Two Men)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF2,000- CHF3,000
CHF1,8000 Bids
René Burri, 1933-2014, Le Corbusier at his Studio
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
René Burri, 1933-2014, Le Corbusier at his Studio
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,500
CHF9000 Bids
René Burri, 1933-2014, Im Gesundheitsministerium, Rio de Janeiro
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
René Burri, 1933-2014, Im Gesundheitsministerium, Rio de Janeiro
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF3,000- CHF4,000
CHF2,6000 Bids
Jannis Kounellis, 1936-2017, Manifesto per un teatro utopistico
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Jannis Kounellis, 1936-2017, Manifesto per un teatro utopistico
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF800- CHF1,200
CHF7000 Bids
Charles Gatewood, 1942-2016, Female Nude In Woods
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Charles Gatewood, 1942-2016, Female Nude In Woods
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF400- CHF600
CHF3600 Bids
Axel Hütte, Düsseldorf, 1987
Dec 02, 2:00 PM CET
Axel Hütte, Düsseldorf, 1987
by Kunsthaus Lempertz KG
Est: €1,000- €1,200
€7500 Bids
Compagnie des Forges et Aciéries de la Marine et d'Homécourt Usine de St Chamond
Nov 29, 2:00 PM CET
Compagnie des Forges et Aciéries de la Marine et d'Homécourt Usine de St Chamond
by Millon Riviera
Est: €1,500- €3,000
€1,2000 Bids
David Hamilton
Dec 04, 10:00 AM CET
David Hamilton
by Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden
Est: €180- €360
€1800 Bids
Michel Comte, 1954, Helena Christensen, Vogue Italia
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Michel Comte, 1954, Helena Christensen, Vogue Italia
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF1,000- CHF1,500
CHF9000 Bids
Hans Finsler, 1891-1972, Untitled (*)
Nov 30, 6:00 PM CET
Hans Finsler, 1891-1972, Untitled (*)
by Germann Auction House Ltd
Est: CHF600- CHF1,000
CHF5000 Bids

Sellers Who Sell Gelatin Silver Prints


Germann Auction House Ltd

Germann Auction House Ltd

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunsthaus Lempertz KG

Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden

Kunstauktionshaus Schloss Ahlden

Millon Riviera

Millon Riviera