Léonard de Selva - Collection Gems

Bridgeman Images is proud to represent the Léonard de Selva image archive which comprises a diverse mix of photographs, illustrations and paintings which he collected over his lifetime


 

Construction of the metro: tunnel under the Seine (b/w photo, circa 1900), French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Construction of the metro: tunnel under the Seine (b/w photo, circa 1900), French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

The Life and the photographic collection of Léonard de Selva

 

First World War, rescue post in the trenches of the French Armee. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
First World War, rescue post in the trenches of the French Armee. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Jeanne Morcellet in her piece Léonard, C’est Autre Chose (Léonard, he is something else) describes him like this:

 First of all, a physical appearance: an imposing silhouette, a leather jacket - or a canvas jacket - azure colour, big faded blue eyes, a squared haircut, a poetic smile and imposing bacchantes. A very 19th century look, between Balzac and Flaubert, animated by an atypical gait, heavy and airy at the same time, which did not cease to survey the world, the small one as the large one. Léonard de Selva, a sentimental photographer, with a graceful voice and polished words, curious about others and landscapes, was born somewhere, on the moon, he says, and in 1942. 

 

First World War, a French infantry regiment, with a gas mask, in reconnaissance in ruins after a release of gas. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
First World War, a French infantry regiment, with a gas mask, in reconnaissance in ruins after a release of gas. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Léonard de Selva grew up in Sarzeau, in Brittany with his father, a Spanish emigrant and oyster farmer. Léonard de Selva was one of nine children in his family. 

 

Girl, wearing a dress and a lace hat, Brittany 1912-1913 (b/w photo), French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Girl, wearing a dress and a lace hat, Brittany 1912-1913 (b/w photo), French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images


His family lived in a house-castle between the golf course and the ocean. An epizootic got the better of the small farm in which they lived on so the Selva’s abandoned the open sea for the city, Vanne, Saint-Nazaire and then Paris. 

 

Portrait of a couple of the bourgeoisie taking the aperitif in the Abbey of Septfontaine. Photography around 1886 by Paul Emile Theodore Ducos (1849-1913) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Portrait of a couple of the bourgeoisie taking the aperitif in the Abbey of Septfontaine. Photography around 1886 by Paul Emile Theodore Ducos (1849-1913) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Paris, the city where Selva discovered photography, by chance. Selva began working in Paris as an apprentice labourer before being employed by commercial photographer Jean-Pierre Sudre. Sudre, described by Jeanne Morcellet as a perfectionist, precise, meticulous master craftsman, introduced Selvas to the camera and showed him how to retouch and repaint with a brush. 

 

Le Tango, comedy by Mr. and Mrs. Jean Richepin - in “Happy Life” of 05/01/1914, French School, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Le Tango, comedy by Mr. and Mrs. Jean Richepin - in “Happy Life” of 05/01/1914, French School, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
 
 
Portrait of two young military at the Abbaye of Septfontaines, Bourmont (Haute Marne), 1870-1886 (b/w photo), Ducos, Paul Emile Theodore (1849-1913) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images
Portrait of two young military at the Abbaye of Septfontaines, Bourmont (Haute Marne), 1870-1886 (b/w photo), Ducos, Paul Emile Theodore (1849-1913) / Private Collection / Bridgeman Images

 

In this period he learns the secret of photography: the grain, the nuances, the light. Behind the Pantheon, he spends hours in the lab. At the same time, Léonard de Selva travelled across France and the world photographing landscapes and people to illustrate tourist guides, reviews and magazines, later to embellish beautiful books and monographs.
 
He collaborates with all major French publishers, such as Hazan, Gallimard, Hachette, Bordas, Hatier, Laffond, Plon and Picquier.

 

Customs search. Painting by Remy Cogghe (1854-1935), Oil On Canvas, 1890. French Art, 19th century / Musee la Piscine, Roubaix, France / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Customs search. Painting by Remy Cogghe (1854-1935), Oil On Canvas, 1890. French Art, 19th century / Musee la Piscine, Roubaix, France / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Finally, images were used to feed exhibitions. The first exhibition was organised at the Cantini Museum in Marseille in 1968, at the invitation of Jean Pierre Sudre. To this first one, many more will follow in Paris, Montreal, Seoul, Vietnam, Arles, Vichy, Saint-Malo. 
 

 

Footballer - in “La Vie au Grand Air”, March 1914, Unknown Artist / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Footballer - in “La Vie au Grand Air”, March 1914, Unknown Artist / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Monster: “Basil or dragon fraudulently fabricates with a ray”, according to Gesner (1558), Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) (after) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Monster: “Basil or dragon fraudulently fabricates with a ray”, according to Gesner (1558), Conrad Gesner (1516-1565) (after) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Léonard's photographic career is linked to his numerous trips. A commission from an agency, a publisher, a plane ticket with an open return, once the commission is completed, he stays on-site and browses in libraries, explores museums, rummages in the archives of collectors.

 

 
The laughter of the Kaiser (William II) - in “ Modern Germany”, 1914 / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
The laughter of the Kaiser (William II) - in “ Modern Germany”, 1914 / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

The passion for old documents, those that speak of a territory, a region, a country; the love for the unknown becomes the basis for his incredible archive. Selva forms alliances even if he doesn’t speak a foreign language as he is an excellent communicator.

 

A chef scout in 1941- in “Boys Scouts” by E.E Reynolds, ed. 1944, coll. M de la Villeon, American Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
A chef scout in 1941- in “Boys Scouts” by E.E Reynolds, ed. 1944, coll. M de la Villeon, American Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

"In a society where you don’t understand anything, if you go slowly, you can talk to the whole world’, ‘a photographer is a curious walker of the eye’ - Léonard de Selva"  

 

First World War, German spy airball caught by the French Armee. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
First World War, German spy airball caught by the French Armee. Photography, 1914-1918, Paris, French Photographer, (20th century) / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

The archives of Léonard de Selva contain a diverse mix of photographs, illustrations and paintings which he collected over his lifetime. Some of the collection's images are colourful, informative, decorative, older and contemporary. These images in this list hold individual narratives. 

 

First World War 1914-1918: Aircraft types of the time, the English SE-5 and the German Fokker D-7, -in “The History of Aeronautics”, 1938., Unknown photographer, (20th century) Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
First World War 1914-1918: Aircraft types of the time, the English SE-5 and the German Fokker D-7, -in “The History of Aeronautics”, 1938., Unknown photographer, (20th century) Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Selva’s images are full of intrigue and the experience of journeys that twist and turn. Images in this collection are driven by Selva’s intrigue in others, architecture and horizons. Elegance, style and harmony are all characteristics of Selva’s photographs and collections that enquire an invitation to closer looking! 

 
The gymnast's movement on the arçon horse decomposed thanks to the chronophotograph of Etienne-Jules Marey in “La Vie au Grand Air” of March 1913, Unknown Artist / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
The gymnast's movement on the arçon horse decomposed thanks to the chronophotograph of Etienne-Jules Marey in “La Vie au Grand Air” of March 1913, Unknown Artist / Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

The Tourneries, the name he uses to describe his 360° panoramic images, are made by juxtaposing 9 to 12 vertical photographs, taken with a wide-angle lens first on film and then digitally. He collated the tourneries together in a limited edition book that uses the Traditional Chinese bookbinding, also called stitched binding, which allowed him to be free from the strict booklet pagination and that highlighted the beauty of his work.

 
The interior of the palace deprives Alak Krishna deb (Raja Naba Krishna str.), in Kolkata. Photograph by Leonard de Selva, India, 2004. / Calcutta, India / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
The interior of the palace deprives Alak Krishna deb (Raja Naba Krishna str.), in Kolkata. Photograph by Leonard de Selva, India, 2004. / Calcutta, India / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

The library of the temple of Haeinsa, containing the 81258 engraved boards of the tripitaka, or boudhic cannon. 360 degree panoramic by Leonard de Selva, Korea, 2005. / Haeinsa Temple, South Korea / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
The library of the temple of Haeinsa, containing the 81258 engraved boards of the tripitaka, or boudhic cannon. 360 degree panoramic by Leonard de Selva, Korea, 2005. / Haeinsa Temple, South Korea / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

 
Portrait of a young man, posing in the Abbey of Septfontaine, in Andelot Blancheville, near Chaumont in Haute Marne. Photography around 1886 by Paul Emile Theodore Ducos (1849-1913)/ Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Portrait of a young man, posing in the Abbey of Septfontaine, in Andelot Blancheville, near Chaumont in Haute Marne. Photography around 1886 by Paul Emile Theodore Ducos (1849-1913)/ Private Collection / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

Would you like to see more images from the Léonard de Selva collection on our website? View our selection.

Seven Deadly Sins: Envy by Boilly, 1824, Louis Leopold Boilly (1761-1845) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Seven Deadly Sins: Envy by Boilly, 1824, Louis Leopold Boilly (1761-1845) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

For any further information about this and other collections, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

  
Family gathering for the weekly outing of a family from the village of Bourmont in Haute-Marne (Haute Marne), circa 1880. Photography. Ducos Collection, French Photographer, (19th century) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Family gathering for the weekly outing of a family from the village of Bourmont in Haute-Marne (Haute Marne), circa 1880. Photography. Ducos Collection, French Photographer, (19th century) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Agricultural workers and their tools, fake, rateau-ertrier (rake ertrier), braid basket and recipient for the collection, in a farm near Bourmont in Haute-Marne, circa 1880. Photography. Ducos Collection, French Photographer, (19th century) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images
Agricultural workers and their tools, fake, rateau-ertrier (rake ertrier), braid basket and recipient for the collection, in a farm near Bourmont in Haute-Marne, circa 1880. Photography. Ducos Collection, French Photographer, (19th century) / Photo © Leonard de Selva / Bridgeman Images

 

Sources on Léonard de Selva

 

Les voyages de Léonard de Selva

Léonard, C’est Autre Chose

 


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