Accompanying the current exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (Univ. of Chicago, $60), casts a spotlight on one of the most gifted photographers of the 19th century. Highlighting the works of the master photographer, Charles Marville, the monograph takes readers back to the mid-1800s, putting us among the people and on the boulevards of the “City of Lights.” Through opulent dusk and fog, Marville’s sepia-toned images capture the spirit and beauty of Paris as it underwent radical transformation through Napoleon III’s modernization program. Commissioned as the official photographer of Paris, Marville created pictures that testify both to the city of a bygone era and his own timeless talent.
The product of James W.P. Campbell’s savvy scholarship and the elegant photography of Will Pryce, the sumptuous The Library: A World History (Univ. of Chicago, $75) chronicles the evolution of this icon of civilization from its ancient Mesopotamian roots through myriad classical iterations, from sleek temples to learning and unusual boondoggles to our century’s efficient and highly functional structures. What they all have in common is their reflection of the culture, needs, and often hubris of their creators as well as highlighting the ongoing tussle between the priorities of the librarian and the whims and fanciful notions of library architects and patrons. With the number of physical books printed rising each year, these are likely to be issues we’ll be (gratefully) wrestling with for some time to come.
In Ansel Adams in the Canadian Rockies (Little, Brown, $30), follow Ansel Adams, one of America’s premier nature photographers, on his 1928 expedition with the Sierra Club. Full of breathtaking panoramic photographs, the book contains everything you’d expect from Adams: lush valleys, towering mountaintops, and awe-inspiring dances of darkness and light. Commemorating one of the earliest major projects in his artistic career, these gorgeous photographs testify to Adams’s burgeoning genius and well-trained eye for landscape images. With nearly one hundred pages of fascinating views, this book makes the perfect gift for lovers of the outdoors, photography buffs, and Adams fans the world over.