Gallery 98

ART EPHEMERA 1960s – 1990s

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Roger Lannes de Montebello (1908-1986): An Artist’s 40-Year Quest for 3-D Photography

Left: Roger Lannes de Montebello, drawing by Moïse Kisling, c. 1933, courtesy of Roger de Montebello
Right: Roger Lannes de Montebello, photographed 1981


Marquis André Roger Lannes de Montebello (1908-86) is not a name familiar to the art world. Although Philippe de Montebello, the former Metropolitan Museum director is well-known, few people have heard about his father Roger de Montebello and his life-long creative obsession with three-dimensional photography. As much inventor as artist, de Montebello’s achievements have been undercut by new technology. In the words of Philippe de Montebello, “By now, I would have thought, holograms and beyond, that his 3D process is little more than a curiosity.”

Roger de Montebello began his creative career in the rarefied pre-World War II French art world.  Before turning his creative energy to 3-D photography he was a portrait painter and an art critic.  His wife, Germaine Wiener de Croisset, was the half-sister of Marie-Laure de Noailles, the famous patron of the Surrealists.  De Montebello himself collaborated with Salvador Dali, who shared his interest in optical effects.

De Montebello described his quest for a true 3D image as follows: “Imagine…a photograph of a woman wearing earrings adorned with a glittering De Beers diamond.  You see one earring.  Walk slowly past the photograph so you are viewing it from gradually changing angles… The earring from one ear recedes from view while its twin [appears] in turn on the other ear.”

Building on theories first postulated in the early 20th century, de Montebello developed a new type of camera that produced individual transparencies each consisting of 2,644 separate exposures.  When such a transparency is seen through a “lens-viewing screen” (another invention of de Montebello’s), the multiple exposures merge into a single 3-D image that changes depending on the viewer’s position.

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In his early patents de Montebello called his technique “Space Photography.” He also used the terms “Integral Photography” and later “Fly’s Eye Photography.” Despite the vast amounts of time and money he devoted to the project over a 40-year period (first in France and then the United States), de Montebello was never fully satisfied with the results, especially in terms of his invention’s commercial application.

Today, new technology – holograms and computer-assisted digital animation — have totally bypassed de Montebello’s conception. Although his work may now appear to be a relic of an increasingly remote analog era, both the photographs and de Montebello’s finely executed working drawings are intriguing. He may never have achieved the seamless 3-D realism that he sought, but his Fly’s Eye pictures, best seen mounted on a light box, have an uncanny, otherworldly quality.

Gallery 98’s  collection of Roger de Montebello materials includes many completed Integram 3-D photographs, each consisting of an original photo transparency and a lens screen that integrates the multiple exposures on the transparency into a 3–D image.  The collection also includes de Montebello’s “Crystal Chrome” camera, the casting molds used to make the lens screens, notebooks filled with his notes and drawings, meticulous renderings on graph paper and vellum, documentary photographs, and various other ephemera.

This material was acquired from M. Henry Jones who worked with de Montebello at the Globus Brother’s studio from the mid-1980s right up to his death, and continues today to improve the Integram process by using new computer capabilities and fabrication techniques. Jones’ recent Integram 3-D photographs are notable for their larger size and seamless 3-D effect. M. Henry Jones’ relationship with de Montebello is just one aspect of his broader interest in art and technology. Visitors to Gallery 98 may remember an exhibition of Henry Jones’ earlier photo cut-outs.

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Please click the individual items below for explanatory information and pictures of related items from the de Montebello collection. The collection is being offered as a single lot although some items are available individually.

Portrait Photograph of Roger Lannes de Montebello with CrystalChrome 3D Camera, 1984

Roger Lannes de Montebello (inventor), CrystalChrome 3D Camera, 1984

Roger Lannes de Montebello (inventor), CrystalChrome 3D Camera #4, 1985

Building the CrystalChrome Camera and the CrystalChrome Viewing Screen, 1985

Detail from the photo transparency for “Man with Camel Cigarettes” showing 50 of its 2,644 exposures. View the final 3D photograph here.

CrystalChrome Viewing Screen, 1984. When this screen is placed over an Integram transparency a 3D image appears.

Portrait of Baby Alice Globus, Integram 3D Photograph, 1984

Portrait of M. Henry Jones, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Portrait of Gerard, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Clarinet, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Roger de Montebello, Hand Holding a Hot Dog, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Man with Camel Cigarettes, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Jell-O Box, Integram 3D Photograph, 1985/86

Small Portrait of Roger Lannes de Montebello, Integram 3D Photograph mounted by M. Henry Jones on a portable light box, 1990s

Large Portrait of Roger Lannes de Montebello, Integram 3D Photograph with new technology developed by M. Henry Jones, 1985-2005

Integrated Images Inc., a company created to develop and market the CrystalChrome Camera and Integram 3D Photographs, 1983-86

Marketing the CrystalChrome Camera. Logo designs (1983/84) by Roger Lannes de Montebello and publicity material produced for the New York Coliseum Photo Show (October 1985)

Roger Lannes de Montebello, working drawings and illustrated research notes, 1983-86

Patent Illustrations for “Space Photography,” a predecessor to the Integram system, 1951

Roger Lannes de Montebello, notebooks and illustrated research notes, 1960s-1970s

The Integram System. Photo layouts illustrating the Integram process and its component parts, 1977