Jacques Henri Lartigue (June 13, 1894 – September 12, 1986) was a French photographer and painter, most famous for his photographs of automobile races, planes and fashionable Parisian women.
Presented with his first camera at seven, he illustrated a witty, sophisticated, and detailed large-format diary of his life (in some 125 volumes) with thousands of photographs. Lartigue was a privileged child, and he made the best of it. From the subjects of his pictures one would assume that the life of his family was dedicated wholly to the pursuit of amusement: the beach, the racetrack, beautiful woman in elegant costumes, heroic motor cars and daredevil drivers, flying machines, and all manner of splendid – including photography itself. Even if Lartigue had been an ordinary photographer, his document of these things would be precious, but he was in fact a photographer of marvelous talent.
He caught memorable images out of the flux of life with the skill and style of a great natural athlete – a visual athlete to whom the best game of all was that of seeing clearly. Lartigue had no perceptible effect on the development of twentieth-century photography, since his work was virtually unknown until a half-century and more after the best of it had been done. When his work came to light, it seemed to confirm the inevitability of what had happened in photography much later, when more mature and sophisticated photographers came to understand what the child had found by intuition.