In one photo, a girl offers a bracelet to a winged lady. In another, pedals and shards of a vase fly across dark space.
By hanging photos beside oil paintings, the National Gallery in London intends to take a provocative look at how photographers use fine art traditions to explore and justify the possibilities of their art.
Named Seduced by Art, this is the first major exhibition of photography held in the National Gallery running from Wednesday to Jan. 20 next year. It will feature some 90 photographs alongside selected portraits, still-life, religious and historical paintings.
The National Gallery is famous for its collection of paintings, including well-known pieces from old-time masters.
"This time we are looking into the relations of paintings with photos so as to broaden the horizon," said Christopher Riopelle, curator of post-1800 paintings at the gallery.
The exhibition shows its visitors how complicated the relations could be. "Every photo here relates to the painting in a different way," he explained.
An example he gave was Thomas Gainsborough's "Mr and Mrs Andrews," which was finished in 1750. "Mr and Mrs Andrews were just married, and they sat happily on their farm to show their wealth," Riopelle said.
Beside the painting was a photo taken by Martin Parr, in which a young couple posed in their apartment. "They just moved into the house and were proud to show their happiness. These two pieces are just about the same thing," he said, although the need of young couples changed throughout time.
Another art pairing impressed visitors immensely. Maisie Broadhead created Keep Them Sweet in 2010, as an allegory that reproduced a 17th century Baroque painting, Simon Vouet's La Richesse, using family members as her model. A woman and two babies dressed exactly the same way as in the painting, except the little daughter was wearing a nappy.
To Hope Kingsley, another curator with the Gallery, photography is "the momentary impression of the world." "They are quick to look at and instantly dismiss," she said.
French painter Ignace-Henri-Theodore Fantin-Latour is known for his flower still-lives. Inspired by his "The Rosy Wealth of June," photographer Ori Gersht froze a bouquet of roses with liquid nitrogen, before hiding among the flowers small explosive charges. With a high-speed digital camera, he managed to capture the moment the petals shatter into icy shards.
Gustave Le Gray showed the power of storm as seen in Peder Balke's The Tempest. "He took a number of photos and stitched them together," Kingsley said. "The foreground, the sea and the sky were captured instantaneously on three negatives," he added.