Tondo with Portrait Profile (Photosculpture)

Artist: Willy Selke
Period: 1899
Material: Bronzed plaster
Location: Albertina (Dauerleihgabe der Höheren Graphische Bundes-Lehr- und Versuchsanstalt)
Dimensions: ø ca. 40 cm
Scanned: 2016
Scanner: GOM ATOS III Triple Scan


Between 1897 and 1911, the Berlin-based photographer and sculptor Willy Selke registered a total of eight patents for the sculptural replication of three-dimensional forms. His method was to transfer the cartographic system of contour lines to photosculpture. Instead of François Willème’s radial profile sections, he used a film camera to make parallel sections of one half of a face in different lighting conditions. He took between thirty and fifty exposures and then enlarged them on silver bromide card, cut them out, and laid them on top of one another. Then the gradations were evened out using a modeling material, and gelatin solution was poured over them. According to descriptions by contemporaries, the reliefs were “remarkably portrait-like.”