Henri Berssenbrugge


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(1873–1959), Dutch photographer. Born in Rotterdam, he studied painting at the Akademie van Beeldende Kunste (1892–96), but was self-taught in photography, setting up his first, shared, studio in 1907 in Rotterdam, then working in The Hague (1917–39). Both studios attracted the cultural elite of musicians, politicians, writers, and artists. As a portraitist, Berssenbrugge cultivated an unposed look, avoiding artistic backgrounds and eschewing retouching; although he also experimented with a variety of printing techniques, such as gum and oil printing, for his pictorialist compositions, including a method he called ‘Fototechnick’. However, his favourite subjects were street photographs and ordinary people. Beginning with farmers and gypsies in Brabant, he continued in Rotterdam when he opened his studio, moved on to other Dutch and Belgian villages, and to Paris, Milan, and London. Always seeking a natural, if slightly romanticized, view of everyday life, he sought his subjects in their own environment, whether urban alleyway or country village.


From The Oxford Companion to the Photograph in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Photography and Photographs.

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