Back to home page
Read about the gallery
Find out more about the artists artists
Visit the gallery shows online
Our guide to collecting photography
Explore some of the photography online
Get more information
Find out more about  the services we offer
Special events
Email Kate at the gallery
Address information
Last exhibited September 20-November 1, 2003


Behind the Gare St. Lazare, 1932


"Shooting a picture is holding your breath as all your faculties focus on capturing fleeting reality; then taking a picture becomes a moment of great physical and intellectual delight.
It is a matter of putting your brain, your eye and your heart in the same line of sight. It is a way of life." *

You can read more about Henri Cartier-Bresson below, or go straight to the image gallery.

To find out more about this artist please contact katestevens@hackelbury.co.uk

*(from Henri Cartier-Bresson, collection Photo Poche No.2, Edition Nathan)

One of the best known and most revered photographers alive today, Henri Cartier-Bresson has lived through an amazing period in history. During 1948-50 alone he was in India for the death of Gandhi, China for the last six months of the Kuomintang and the first six months of the People’s Republic, and in Indonesia for independence. He has managed without fail to be in the right place at the right time, and his particular method and perspective have resulted in a remarkable document of twentieth century life and times.

This is however just one facet of a photographic career spanning over fifty years. Looking at the breadth and depth of his work we ultimately find a self-portrait of the artist woven through this extraordinary and uniquely observed portrait of our time. Taken individually, each image has it's own story to tell, a moment in time that offers, as Cartier-Bresson has described it the possibility ñ through forgetting yourself ñ of recording in a fraction of a second the emotion of the subject, and the beauty of the form. In considering Cartier-Bresson’s work it is impossible to ignore his concept of "The decisive moment": form, line, texture, tonality, contrast, and geometric composition carrying an importance equal to, but also inextricable from, the content. It is his mastery of this concept, this fraction of time unique to photography, that which has helped to make him such a prominent and pivotal figure in the history of the medium.

"Regarded by the French as a national treasure, mentioned as a touchstone in almost every article in the popular photographic press, emulated by legions of photographers, Cartier-Bresson has delighted and informed millions with his photographs" Claude Cookman, Henri Cartier-Bresson The man, the image & the world. A retrospective (Thames & Hudson, 2003)

Henri Cartier-Bresson was born in France in 1908. He trained as an artist before beginning his photographic career in the early 1930ís, spending time on the Ivory Coast, in Europe, Mexico & the USA. In 1940 he was captured by the Nazis and spent three years in prisoner-of-war camps before escaping to join the Paris resistance. From 1944-45 he took a series of portraits of writers and artists for Editions Braun, including Matisse, Braque, Bonnard, Claudel and Rouault. In 1946 he spent over a year working in the USA on the so-called "posthumous" exhibition of his work, proposed by the Museum of Modern Art in New York when he was believed to have died during the war.

In 1947 Cartier-Bresson founded the co-operative photographic agency Magnum, along with Robert Capa, David Seymour (Chim) , William Vandivert & George Rodger. Since then he has traveled all over the world capturing not just news, but unique moments in our history.

Cartier-Bresson’s first book, Images à la sauvette, with a cover by Matisse, was published in France in 1952 by Tèriade. This was also published in New York with the alternative title The Decisive Moment. 1954 marked the beginning of a long collaboration with Robert Delpire with the publication of Les Danses a Bali. In this year he was also the first photographer to be allowed into the USSR during the period of dètente.

In 1955 Tèriade published Les Europèens, with a cover by Mirö, and in 1958-59 Cartier-Bresson returned to China for three months for the tenth anniversary of the People’s Republic of China.

1963-66 Cartier-Bresson traveled in Mexico, Cuba, Japan and India. It was in 1966 that he terminated his active working relationship with Magnum Photos, although the agency distribution retains his archives.

Cartier-Bresson continued to travel and photograph until 1975 when he decided to concentrate on drawing. Exhibitions of his photographic work have maintained his presence in galleries & museums worldwide, and he has been celebrated with awards and prizes and numerous birthday celebrations. In 2000 he made plans with his wife Martine Franck & daughter Mèlanie, to set up the Fondation Cartier-Bresson, to provide a permanent home for his collected works as well as an exhibition space open to the other artists. The foundation won state-approved status in 2001, and was opened in the spring of 2003.

Henri passed away on July 3rd 2004, aged 95.


The photographs of Henri Cartier-Bresson were first exhibited at the Julien Levy Gallery, New York, in 1933. His first museum show was at the Museum of Modern Art New York, in 1947. Since then he has been continually exhibited in major galleries, museums and institutions around the world. This spring saw the long-awaited opening of the Henri Cartier-Bresson Foundation, alongside De qui síagit-il? Henri Cartier-Bresson, a retrospective exhibition at the Biblioteque Nationale. Located in the Montparnasse district of Paris, the foundation will house the Cartier-Bresson archive and bring to the public conferences and exhibitions about photographers and other talented individuals from his sphere of influence.

To find out more about Henri Cartier-Bresson we have listed below a small selection of books that we recommend, from the key early ones to those that have been published most recently. If you are searching for an out-of-print title we will be happy to source it for you.

2003 Henri Carter-Bresson: the man, the image & the world. A retrospective (Thames & Hudson, UK)
2001 Landscape/townscape (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1998 Tète à Tète (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1997 Europeans (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1995 Henri Cartier-Bresson & the Artless Art (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1994 A Propos de Paris (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1991 America in Passing (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1979 Henri Cartier-Bresson: Photographer (Thames & Hudson, UK)
1963 Photographies de Henri Cartier-Bresson (Text by Henri Cartier-Bresson. Delpire Editeur) UK edition: Jonathan Cape. US edition: Grossman
1955 Les Europèens (Devised and published by Tèriade. Text by Henri Cartier-Bresson) The Europeans (Simon & Schuster, New York)
1952 Images à la Sauvette (Devised and published by Tèriade. Text by Henri Cartier-Bresson) The Decisive Moment (Simon & Schuster, New York)

If you enjoy the work of this artist, you should also look at the work of fellow Magnum members Elliott Erwitt & Marc Riboud, along with his countryman and peer, Willy Ronis.

You can also see our new gallery of work by Henri's wife, renowned photo-journalist Martine Franck.


Back to top of page


All prices are subject to change without notice and availability is subject to prior sale. Please call or email the gallery for current pricing & availability. Thank you!

© 2003 Hackelbury Fine Art, Ltd. Copyright for all images is held by the respective artist or estate and they may not be reproduced in any form without express premission. All rights reserved.