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03.06.2008 Metropolitan Museum Of Art : Framing a Century, un siècle de photographie exposé en treize artistes

« The exhibition tells the story of photography’s first one hundred years through the work of key figures who helped shape the aesthetic and expressive course of the medium: Gustave Le Gray, Roger Fenton, Carleton Watkins, William Henry Fox Talbot, Julia Margaret Cameron, Nadar, Édouard Baldus, Charles Marville, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Man Ray, Henri Cartier-Bresson, and Brassaï. The exhibition presents ten to twelve iconic works by each of these artists to convey a broad sense of their contributions to photography. Many of the works are drawn from the Museum’s 2005 acquisition of the Gilman Collection. » Read More

Malcolm Daniel, Curator in charge, Department of Photographs, has authorized us to reproduce the complete list of works that were exposed in Framing a Century, Masters Photographers for which no printed trace currently exists. Thirrteen photographers :

William Henry Fox Talbot, 1800–1877 (02.1)
Botanical Specimen, ca. 1835 The Oriel Window, South Gallery, Lacock Abbey, probably 1835 Bookcase at Lacock Abbey, 1839 Winter Trees, Reflected in a Pond, 1841–42 The Open Door, April 1844 Articles of Glass, 1841–44 Bust of Patroclus, August 9, 1843 The Boulevards at Paris, May–June 1843 Cathedral at Orléans, June 21, 1843 The Tomb of Sir Walter Scott, in Dryburgh Abbey, 1844 Loch Katrine Pier, Scene of the Lady of the Lake, October 1844 Plymouth from Mt. Edgcumbe, September 1845 Fruit Sellers, ca. 1845 Dandelion Seeds, 1858 or later; photogravure The Pencil of Nature, 1844–46 A Scene in a Library, 1841–44

Roger Fenton, 1819–1869 (02.2/08.2)
South Front of the Kremlin from the Old Bridge, 1852 Wharfe and Pool, below the Strid, 1854 Landing Place, Railway Stores, Balaklava, 1855 Roslin Chapel, South Porch, 1856
Falls of the Llugwy, at Pont-y-Pair, 1857 Salisbury Cathedral—The Nave, from the South Transept, 1858 Still Life with Fruit, 1860 Landscape with Clouds, probably 1856 Reclining Odalisque, 1858 Self-Portrait, February 1852 Rievaulx Abbey, the High Altar, 1854

Carleton Watkins, 1829–1916 (09.2)
“Grizzly Giant,” Mariposa Grove, California, 1861 The Town on the Hill, New Almaden, 1863 Sweat House, 1863 Cape Horn near Celilo, 1867
View on the Columbia, Cascades, 1867 Multnomah Falls, Oregon, 1867 San Francisco, from California and Powell Streets, 1864 Looking Up Among the Sugar Pines—Calaveras Grove, 1878 Devil’s Canyon, Geysers, Looking Down, 1868–70 Strait of Carquennes, from South Vallejo, 1868–69

Nadar, 1820–1910 (01.2)
Seated Model, Partially Draped, 1856–59 Standing Female Nude, ca. 1855 Théophile Gautier; Jules Janin, both, ca. 1856 Eugène Pelletan, 1855–59
Gioacchino Rossini, March 1856 Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri, 1855–60 Catacombs, Paris, April 1862 Nadar with His Wife, Ernestine, in a Balloon, ca. 1865 Self-Portrait in American Indian Costume, 1863 Alexandre Dumas, November 1855
Pierrot Laughing, 1855 (with his brother Adrien Tournachon) Pierrot Running, 1854–55 (with his brother Adrien Tournachon)

Julia Margaret Cameron, 1815–1879 (02.2)
Kate Keown; Philip Stanhope Worsley, both, 1866 Sir John Herschel, April 1867 Christabel, 1866 Zoe, Maid of Athens, 1866
Sappho, 1865 The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty, 1866 After Perugino. The Annunciation, 1865–66 Déjatch Alámayou, King Theodore’s Son, July 1868 Alfred, Lord Tennyson, July 4, 1866 The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere, 1874 Mrs. Herbert Duckworth, 1867

Gustave Le Gray, 1820–1884 (01.2/13.2)
Oak Tree and Rocks, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1849–52 Mission héliographique, Remparts, Carcassonne, 1851 Forest of Fontainbleau, ca. 1856 Tree Study, Forest of Fontainebleau, ca. 1856
Brig on the Water, 1856 Cavalry Maneuvers, Camp de Châlons, 1857 Imperial Yacht of Reine Hortense, Le Havre, 1856 Temple of Edfu, Égypte 1867 The Great Wave, Sète, 1857 Nude, ca. 1856 Portrait of Gustave Le Gray, 1854 (with Alphonse de Launay) Mediterrannean Sea at Sète, 1857

Charles Marville, 1816–1879 (01.2)
Man Lying beneath a Chestnut Tree, 1850–53 Allegorical Sculpture of Industry, Pont du Carrousel, 1852 South Portal, Chartres Cathedral, 1854 Cloud Study with the Dome of the Invalides, 1855–56 The Mummified Cat (Found in the Excavations of Rue de Constantine – Impasse Briare, 1860s Rue Estienne, from the rue Boucher, 1862–65 Cour Saint-Guillaume, ca. 1865 Arts et Métiers (Ancien Modèle), 1877 The Bièvre River near the Gobelins, ca. 1865

Édouard Baldus, 1813–1889 (01.2)
Château of Princess Mathilde, Enghien, 1854–55 Entrance to the Port of Boulogne, 1855 Group at the Château de la Faloise, 1857 Imperial Library of the Louvre, 1856–57
Lyon during the Floods of 1856, June 1856 Pont en Royans, ca. 1859 Tunnel, Vienne, ca. 1861 “The Monk,” La Ciotat, ca. 1861
Cloister of Saint-Trophîme, Arles, ca. 1861 “Eagle’s Beak,” La Ciotat, ca. 1861

Eugène Atget, 1857–1927 (01.4/01.6)
Organ-grinder, 1898–99 Versailles, The Orangerie Staircase, 1901 Water Lilies, 1910 or earlier 15, rue Maître-Albert, 1912 Ville d’Avray, 1923–25 Saint-Cloud, July 1921 Versailles, 1923 Versailles, 1923 Rue Asselin, 1924–25 Avenue des Gobelins, 1925 Avenue des Gobelins, 1927 Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève, 1924

Walker Evans, 1903–1975 (09.6)
East River, New York City, 1929 Torn Movie Poster, 1931 Votive Candles, New York City, 1929–30 Bedford Village, Westchester County, New York, 1931 Coal Dock Worker, 1933 Room at Louisiana Plantation House, March 1935 Negro Church, South Carolina, 1936 Alabama Tenant Farmer, 1936 Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936 Billboard, Birmingham, Alabama, 1936 Subway Passenger, New York, 1938–41 Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936

Henri Cartier-Bresson, 1908–2004 (01.6/04.6/05.7/10.6)
Allée du Prado, Marseilles, 1932 Hyères, France, 1932 Quai St. Bernard, Paris, 1932 Valencia, Spain, 1933
Barrio Chino, Barcelona, 1933 Andalusia, Spain, 1933 Santa Clara, Mexico, 1934 Seville, 1933
Sunday on the Banks of the Marne, 1936–38 Dessau, Germany, 1945 Calle Cuauhtemoctzin, Mexico City, 1934

Man Ray, 1890–1976 (01.6)
Woman, 1918 Marcel Duchamp, ca. 1920 Jean Cocteau; Kiki Drinking, both, 1922 Barbette Dressing, ca. 1926 Marcel Proust on His Death Bed, 1922 Frames from Emak Bakia, 1927 Rayograph, 1923–28 Jacqueline Goddard; Male Torso, both, 1930 Arm, ca. 1935 The Model, ca. 1933

Brassaï, 1899–1984 (01.6)
Pont Marie, Île Saint-Louis, 1930–32 A Pillar of the Corvisard Metro, 1945 Rainy Day on the Champs Elysées, 1931; Rain in Paris, ca. 1931 Morris Column in the Fog; Lesbian Couple at the Monocle, both, 1932 Big Albert’s Gang, Place d’Italie, 1931–32 Introductions at Suzy’s, 1932-1933 Street Fair, Boulevard St. Jacques, Paris, 1931 Kiki and Her Accompanist, Cabaret des Fleurs, ca. 1932 A Vagrant Sleeping in Marseille, 1935 Nude, 1931–34 Involuntary Sculpture (from a Retarded Person), 1932 Graffiti, Paris, 1944–45 ; Plane Tree, Paris, 1945 La rue Quincampoix and its hôtels de passe, 1933

Framing a Century

Master Photographers, 1840–1940

Although the history of photography is often recounted as a series of scientific and technological advancements, this exhibition tells the story of photography’s first century through the work of thirteen artists who helped shape the aesthetic and expressive course of the medium. They made their mark not only by mastering the chemistry and optics of photography but also by bringing to their work a sense of poetry, formal complexity, visual experimentation, or innovative subject matter.

“Framing a Century” also celebrates the Museum’s 2005 acquisition of the acclaimed Gilman Paper Company Collection, widely considered the finest collection of nineteenth- and early-twentieth century photographs in private hands. The Gilman Collection—by far the most important acquisition that the Metropolitan has ever made in the field of photography—meshed perfectly with the Museum’s existing holdings to create deep, rich bodies of work by many of the most important masters of the medium’s first hundred years. Among those now represented in far greater depth are the photographers featured in this exhibition: Roger Fenton, Gustave Le Gray, Carleton Watkins, William Henry Fox Talbot, Nadar, Julia Margaret Cameron, Edouard Baldus, Charles Marville, Eugène Atget, Walker Evans, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Man Ray, and Brassaï.

Major gifts in support of the Gilman Collection acquisition were received from Joyce F. Menschel; The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation through Joyce and Robert Menschel; Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee; Harriette and Noel Levine; Mr. and Mrs. Andrew M. Saul; Mrs. Walter H. Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation; Joseph M. Cohen; Jennifer and Joseph Duke; Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis; Cynthia Hazen Polsky; and The Alfred Stieglitz Society. Additional generous support was provided by the William Talbott Hillman Foundation; Robert Rosenkranz; the Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation; W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg; the Sam Salz Foundation; Heidi S. Steiger; and two anonymous donors. The Museum also expresses profound thanks to The Howard Gilman Foundation, which donated a substantial portion of the collection.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

South Front of the Kremlin from the Old Bridge, 1852

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.348

The engineer Charles Blacker Vignoles invited his friend Fenton to photograph a suspension bridge that Vignoles was building for Czar Nicholas I across the Dnieper River near Kiev. With little experience but with obvious proficiency in Gustave Le Gray’s waxed-paper-negative process, Fenton saw no reason to limit himself to that appointed task. When he returned to London in late November, his portfolio was filled with photographs of the landmarks of Kiev, Saint Petersburg, and Moscow—the first photographs of Russia seen by the British public.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Wharfe and Pool, below the Strid, 1854

Salted paper print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Gift, 2005

2005.100.8

Upon his return from Russia, Fenton turned his camera toward quintessentially English subjects—the ruined medieval abbeys of Yorkshire and the rivers, pathways, and ancient forests that inspired poets and weekend tourists alike to contemplate the course of history and commune with nature. At a well-known spot near Bolton Priory, Fenton dared to point his camera into the light—a move that contradicted the rules of proper photographic practice. Bringing rushing water, mist, sky, and sunlight together to create an effect of atmosphere naturally calls to mind the early paintings of J. M. W. Turner. Fenton surely knew Turner’s work and was himself compared to England’s greatest landscape painter by contemporary critics.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Landing Place, Railway Stores, Balaklava, 1855

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

2005.100.67

Commissioned by the Manchester publisher Thomas Agnew to document the Crimean War, Fenton departed for the Black Sea port of Balaklava on February 20, 1855, with two assistants, a letter of introduction from Prince Albert, five cameras, seven hundred glass plates, a wine merchant’s van refitted as a traveling darkroom, and thirty-six large chests of provisions.

His extensive documentation of the war—the first use of photography for that purpose—focused on the port, camps, and officers of the British and French armies, along with more picturesque subjects such as Zouaves, Turks, and Croats. It did not include photographs of the fighting itself, which was beyond the technical grasp of the medium. Nor did it depict the wounded and the dead, which would have offended both taste and the political beliefs of Fenton’s hoped-for clientele. Fenton departed the Crimea in late June with more than 350 negatives, prints of which he presented to Queen Victoria in August and exhibited in London in early September, just as news arrived of the Russians’ retreat and the allies’ victory.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Roslin Chapel, South Porch, 1856

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.6

At the fifteenth-century Roslin Chapel in Scotland, Fenton played with the relationship between the flat wall of Gothic masonry and the picture plane itself. He invites the viewer to go through the narrow doorway of the south porch, worn by centuries of footsteps, and to pass through the darkness of the chapel into the light of the garden and beyond, through the gateway and past the simple fence into the countryside.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Falls of the Llugwy, at Pont-y-Pair, 1857

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund and Mrs. Jackson Burke Gift, 1988

1988.1027

This zigzagging composition of water, rock, vegetation, and sky was made from the foot of Pont-y-Pair (Bridge of the Cauldron), a fifteenth-century stone bridge that still straddles the Llugwy River in the small artists’ colony of Bettws-y-Coed. Some of Fenton’s most dramatic landscape photographs were made during a trip to north Wales in 1857.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Salisbury Cathedral—The Nave, from the South Transept, 1858

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.9

The dark interiors of Gothic cathedrals posed a particular challenge for early photographers. By leaving the shutter open so long that the edges of shadows blurred with the movement of the sun, Fenton achieved the technical tour de force of making clearly legible the cathedral’s lofty ordinance while at the same time registering the nuances of semidarkness peculiar to the Gothic space.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Still Life with Fruit, 1860

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.15

During summer 1860 Fenton produced more than forty large, luxuriant, almost overripe still lifes. These exquisitely detailed assemblages of objets d’art, flowers, and exotic fruits stimulate the senses and demonstrate the capacity of photography to equal—and even surpass—painting in its many traditional roles. Perhaps these works, like so many of their seventeenth-century Dutch painted precedents, are also tinged with sadness over the achingly brief beauty of life. Fenton’s only son had died in April 1860 at age fifteen months.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Landscape with Clouds, probably 1856

Salted paper print from glass negative

The Rubel Collection, Promised Gift of William Rubel

L.1997.84.5

Like every other photographer of the period, Fenton faced a difficult technical problem: his photographic chemistry was not equally sensitive to all colors of the spectrum, and, as a result, a negative properly exposed for the landscape left the sky far overexposed. Fenton, contrary to common practice, exposed for the sky, letting the land go dark; he pushed the dark surface of man’s world—silhouetted trees, barely visible grazing sheep, distant hills and horizon—to the bottom edge of his composition and filled the page with a dreamlike sea of sky with waves of clouds stretching to infinite distance. His finest landscapes are not mere topographic records—depictions of a famous gorge or mountain—but rather expressions of man’s spiritual connection to nature.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Reclining Odalisque, 1858

Salted paper print from glass negative

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Anonymous, Joyce and Robert

Menschel, Jennifer and Joseph Duke, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gifts, 1997

1997.382.34

Fenton made a series of photographs inspired by the Victorian vogue for the exotic trappings of empire, modeled on the harem scenes and odalisques of Eugène Delacroix and Jean-Auguste-Dominique Ingres and motivated by his desire to elevate the status of photography by tackling themes more frequently treated in painting.

Reclining Odalisque is among the quietest pictures in his series. There are no cowering slaves or leering sultans, there is no music or dancing, there are few stage props, there is no narrative tale. The odalisque is simply there, a vision floating in darkness: the exquisite embodiment of Victorian fascination with the exotic and the erotic. She lies languorously on dark pillows set on layers of carpet; she is barefoot but crowned with golden coins; she wears loose-fitting, patterned harem pants and a blouse fully unbuttoned to reveal a hint of bare breast below gossamer; and she looks at us from the shadows in a subtly provocative way calculated to stir a Victorian gentleman’s imagination.

Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Self-Portrait, February 1852

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.285

In an improvised studio with overhead drapery to control the light, the thirty-two-year-old Fenton struck a jaunty pose for this self portrait. Perhaps timing the exposure, he set his open pocket watch on the book in his hands. This self-portrait is among Fenton’s earliest photographs.

In the decade that followed, he became the most celebrated and influential photographer in England, excelling in every genre of photography: majestic architectural views of England’s stately homes and ruined abbeys, Romantic depictions of the countryside, moving reportage of the Crimean War, intimate portraits of Queen Victoria and her family, enchanting Orientalist tableaux, and astonishingly lush still lifes.

*Roger Fenton

English, 1819–1869

Rievaulx Abbey, the High Altar, 1854

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, William T. Hillman Foundation Gift, 2005

2005.100.275

The romantic ruins of the early-thirteenth-century abbey of Rievaulx, much loved by artists, lie in a serene, steeply wooded valley in Yorkshire close to the family home of Fenton’s wife, Grace. It is probably Grace who is posed kneeling, as if in prayer, at the site of the high altar.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Oak Tree and Rocks, Forest of Fontainebleau, 1849–52

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 2000

2000.13

In the second quarter of the nineteenth century the Forest of Fontainebleau—forty thousand acres crisscrossed by footpaths and dotted with ancient oaks and anthropomorphic boulders—attracted a new generation of painters. They found in the light-dappled woods south of Paris a spiritual antidote for the tensions of modern urban life and a perfect subject for exploring the physical and expressive properties of their medium, free of academic strictures. Working alongside these pre-Impressionist painters and testing the limits of another medium was Le Gray, who had recently traded in his paint box and easel for a camera and tripod. In this unique early work, Le Gray conveys the sensuous experience of the sylvan interior, weaving the network of branches, patches of lichen, and sparkling vegetation into a tapestry of allover patterning that merges solid and void, substance and shadow.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

and Auguste Mestral

French, 1812–1884

The Ramparts of Carcassonne, 1851

Salted paper print from waxed-paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.34

In 1851 the Commission des Monuments Historiques, an agency of the French government, selected five photographers to make surveys of the nation’s architectural patrimony, intended to aid the Paris-based commission in determining the nature and urgency of the preservation and restoration work required at sites throughout France. Gustave Le Gray, already recognized as a leading figure on both the technical and artistic fronts of French photography, and Auguste Mestral, about whom very little is known, were among those selected for this first major act of government patronage of photography; they decided to travel together to document their assigned sites in southwestern and central France.

No monument on their itinerary yielded more dramatic images than Carcassonne, its thirteenth-century fortifications an outstanding model of medieval military architecture. The city’s double walls, punctuated with towers, provided the photographers with a subject admirably suited to catching the nuances of light and shadow on geometric surfaces and one also resonant with historical import. Recalling an epoch long since vanished, the Tour de la Vade—the largest and most impregnable of the city’s towers—dominates this picture, dwarfing in scale, as it does in antiquity, the simple grave markers near its base. Here, Le Gray and Mestral present an essay on the place of man and his works in the passage of time.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Forest of Fontainbleau, ca. 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.47

Le Gray returned to the Forest of Fontainebleau in the mid-1850s with a larger camera and glass negatives. In contrast to the flickering abstraction of his earlier pictures, the later Fontainebleau photographs generally emphasize broader effects of light and shadow. Following the sandy road straight back from the picture plane, the viewer progresses from impenetrable shadow (probably emphasized by some providential error in exposure) to the foliage at the right, past the massive tree trunks standing like primitive colossi and toward the crest of the road and bright sky. But more than recounting the experience of an incidental passage through a landscape, Le Gray’s photograph is a powerful drama about darkness and light, a palpable expression of the unknown and the ethereal.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Tree Study, Forest of Fontainebleau, ca. 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, Joyce and Robert Menschel, The Howard Gilman Foundation, Harrison D. Horblit, Harriette and Noel Levine and Paul F. Walter Gifts and David Hunter McAlpin Fund; and Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Harry H. Lunn Jr., 1987

1987.1011

Here, Le Gray broke with his more usual habit of photographing the noble, aging oaks for which the forest was famous and focused instead on the seemingly insignificant brush springing from a tree trunk. Pointing his camera into the light, Le Gray celebrates a momentary epiphany of observation, a sparkling display of light and life, rendered in the golden hues characteristic of his prints from the mid-1850s.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Brig on the Water, 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gift of A. Hyatt Mayor, 1976

1976.645.1

With its single ship in the midst of a vast expanse of sea and twilight sky, Le Gray’s Brig on the Water evoked romantic notions of the lone individual in a sublime universe. It was among the most famous and widely distributed photographs of the nineteenth century, enjoying enormous success in England as well as in France; a London printseller’s advertisement in the Times in November 1856 made the incredible claim of “800 copies subscribed for in two months.”

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Cavalry Maneuvers, Camp de Châlons, 1857

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.49

For six weeks in August, September, and October 1857, twenty-five thousand men from the French Imperial Guard conducted exercises under the command of Napoleon III to inaugurate a vast military camp at Châlons-sur-Marne. Le Gray was commissioned to take photographs of the camp, the inaugural events, and the officers. The pictures were later bound in albums and presented by the emperor to his highest-ranking officers.

The skillfully executed maneuvers, like the imperial celebrations, religious services, and elaborate entertainments that also marked the inaugural weeks, were intended as much for the pleasure of the emperor and the thousands of day-trippers who came to watch as for the improvement of the troops. Far from the chaos of real battle and the unfamiliarity of foreign terrain, the regiments of infantry and cavalry moved in precisely coordinated lines across some thirty thousand acres of flat countryside. Silhouetted on the horizon in the early morning mist, this highly trained and well equipped military force could easily be mistaken for a battalion of toy soldiers.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

The Imperial Yacht La Reine Hortense, Le Havre, 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2005

2005.100.273

Le Gray photographed the imperial yacht in the port of Le Havre in July 1856, just before it set off for Greenland and Spitzbergen on an expedition led by the emperor’s cousin Prince Napoleon, the tallest of the men standing in the bow. The sleek vessel’s rigging and guys seem to secure its perfect placement within Le Gray’s frame.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Temple of Edfu, 1867

Albumen silver print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.192

At the age of forty, Le Gray closed his studio, abandoned his wife and children, and fled the country to escape his creditors. He joined Alexandre Dumas, setting sail from Marseille on May 9, 1860, “to see,” in Dumas’s words, “places famous in history and myth . . . to raise the dust of a few ancient civilizations.” For Le Gray, the voyage provided both an escape and new subjects to photograph. After being abandoned in Malta following a conflict with Dumas two months into the voyage, Le Gray eventually made his way to Lebanon and finally Egypt. There, he spent the last twenty years of his life as a photographer and as a drawing tutor to the sons of Isma’il Pasha, the Ottoman ruler of Egypt. He never returned to France.

This photograph shows members of the party accompanying Isma’il Pasha’s sons on a journey through Egypt. Freed from the desert sands less than a decade before, the Temple of Horus at Edfu, built between 237 and 57 b.c., was remarkably well preserved and monumental. It is tempting to recognize Le Gray himself in European clothing, standing at the left.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

The Great Wave, Sète, 1857

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gift of John Goldsmith Phillips, 1976

1976.646

The dramatic effects of sunlight, clouds, and water in Le Gray’s seascapes stunned his contemporaries and immediately brought him international recognition. At a time when most photographers found it impossible to achieve proper exposure of both landscape and sky in a single picture, Le Gray often solved the problem by printing two negatives on a single sheet of paper—one exposed for the sea, the other for the sky—sometimes made on separate occasions or in different locations. His marine pictures caused a sensation not only because their simultaneous depiction of sea and heavens represented a technical tour de force but also because the resulting poetic effect was without precedent in photography.

Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Nude, ca. 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.274

Only four nude studies by Le Gray are known. In this striking image, the photographer departed from the usual academic treatment of the nude, such as he might have learned from his years in the painting studio of Paul Delaroche, in favor of a spirit more akin to that of the Symbolists. The daybed’s velvet upholstery, the tassels on the pillow, and the heavy curtain fabric have a reassuring and familiar presence, but the serpentine locks of hair evoke Medusa and hint at strangulation, while the legs and feet cross and tense in the manner of a crucifixion. Withdrawn in sleep—or is it death?—the beautiful young woman reminds one of a drowning victim, an Ophelia freshly recovered from the Seine, a theme favored by the painters and poets of Paris.

Alphonse De Launay

French, 1827–1906

Gustave Le Gray, 1854

Salted paper print from glass negative

Purchase, Daniel Blau Gift, and 2005 and 2007 Benefit Funds, 2008

Gustave Le Gray, the central figure in French photography in the 1850s, was famed not only for his sylvan studies in Fontainebleau Forest and his dramatic seascapes but also for his technical innovation and photographic instruction. At his studio near the Barrière de Clichy in Paris he taught more than fifty photographers their art; among them were some, including Roger Fenton, who are now considered part of the pantheon, and others, such as Alphonse De Launay, who were nearly lost to history.

In this remarkably spontaneous and expressive portrait, Le Gray’s protégé perfectly captured both the ease of a master enjoying his success and the cockiness of the man who, six years later, would flee his creditors, abandon his wife and children, sail the Mediterranean with Alexandre Dumas, and end his days in Egypt as tutor to the Pasha’s sons. Some credit must also go to Le Gray, whose active participation—perhaps even directing his pupil—accounts for much of the picture’s success.

*Gustave Le Gray

French, 1820–1884

Mediterranean Sea at Sète, 1857

Albumen silver print from two glass negatives

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

2005.100.48

Le Gray was the central figure in French photography of the 1850s—an artist of the first order, a teacher, the author of several widely distributed instructional manuals, and a master photographer of landscape, architecture, portraiture, and many other subjects. In many of his most theatrical seascapes, Le Gray printed two negatives on a single sheet of paper—one exposed for the sea, the other for the sky—sometimes made on separate occasions or at different locations. Although the relationship of sunlight to reflection in this example was carefully considered and the two negatives were skillfully printed, one can still see where they were joined at the horizon.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

“Grizzly Giant,” Mariposa Grove, California, 1861; printed ca. 1876

Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Elisha Whittelsey Collection, The Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1972

1972.643.3

Watkins made his name with views of the extraordinarily beautiful Yosemite Valley, which he photographed repeatedly over a twenty year period, beginning in 1861. With his livelihood dependent on sales of his California views to tourists, Watkins no doubt made this image with a mind to impressing Easterners and propagating the notion that the West was America’s own Garden of Eden. To illustrate its awesome scale, Watkins posed the explorer Galen Clark at the base of the massive three-hundred-year-old tree known as the Grizzly Giant. Along with Yosemite Valley, the Big Trees in the Mariposa Grove were on every early tourist’s route through the region.

Following his bankruptcy in 1875, Watkins lost his gallery and negatives to his competitor Isaiah West Taber. Without crediting him, Taber continued printing the most famous of Watkins’s early Yosemite images, including this one.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

The Town on the Hill, New Almaden, 1863

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1989

1989.1083

In 1863 Watkins was hired to make a photographic survey of the quicksilver (mercury) mining operations in New Almaden, near San Jose, California. Quicksilver—used to bond with, and weigh down, the finest particles of gold that might otherwise float away in the sluicing process—was essential to the gold-mining industry, and the mining of quicksilver itself became a profitable enterprise.

Watkins’s clients hoped to use his photographs to convince potential investors of the promise of the New Almaden site. To this end Watkins made numerous views documenting the mining process and showing the town to its best possible advantage. Capitalizing on the calm of the hazy early morning and a picturesque vantage point, he portrayed the mining camp as a charming mountain village possessing an appealing tidiness and an air of perfect tranquility.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Sweat House, 1863

Albumen print from glass plate negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.339

In 1857 a reservation was created north of Mendocino to resettle the native Pomo people, and Fort Bragg was established to oversee it. Ethnographic studies were not typical of Watkins, but he found in this man-made structure something of the monumentality that also caught his eye in nature.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Cape Horn near Celilo, 1867

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.109

When Watkins traveled up the Columbia River, he photographed both natural and manmade landmarks—the rocky outcrops and cascades and the towns, mills, and docks along the way. His path followed that of the Oregon Steam Navigation Company, which likely commissioned him. It would be easy to surmise that the centrality of the rails in this photograph is evidence of Watkins’s business agenda. But one might also interpret the picture, made one hundred miles up the Columbia from Portland at the farthest point in his survey, as a visual metaphor for Manifest Destiny, the belief that the United States was destined to span the continent with its sovereignty. The artful balance Watkins achieved between nature and man’s incursion into nature—between the valley etched in the land by the river and the railroad laid down alongside it—suggests that whether he saw Cape Horn as a commercial opportunity or as a symbolic representation of a national doctrine, he also recognized it as a providential place of aesthetic and moral harmony.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

View on the Columbia, Cascades, 1867

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Warner Communications Inc. Purchase Fund and Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1979

1979.622

For the type of large-format landscapes that Watkins produced along the Columbia River in Oregon, the physical demands of the process were great. Since there was as yet no practical means of enlarging, Watkins’s glass negatives had to be as large as he wished the prints to be, and his camera had to be large enough to accommodate them. Furthermore, the glass negatives had to be coated, exposed, and developed while the photographic emulsion remained tacky, requiring the photographer to transport a traveling darkroom as he explored the virgin terrain of the American West. The crystalline clarity and classic balance of Watkins’s remarkable “mammoth” prints attest to his virtuosic mastery of the process and his consummate artistry. Perhaps it was the very laboriousness of the process that led Watkins to plan his exposures with such perfect calibration, aligning his frame with the tree at the left, for instance, and waiting for the precise moment when the sun would begin to reveal its form and highlight the texture of its rough bark.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Multnomah Falls, Oregon, 1867; printed later

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.174

Watkins’s uncommon technical virtuosity and artistic talent won praise at home and an award at the 1867 Exposition Universelle in Paris. That year, he opened the storefront Yosemite Art Gallery to sell his prints in San Francisco, and he also made new pictures, the most glorious of his career, in Oregon and along the Columbia River. He made two views at Multnomah Falls: one describes the falls as a sheer straight plunge of uninterrupted verticality; this one uses the distance between upper and lower falls to play hide-and seek with the towering trees, cascading water, and hidden pool.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

San Francisco, from California and Powell Streets, 1864;

printed ca. 1876

In the “Ambroise Bernard Album”

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gift of Carole and Irwin Lainoff, Ruth P. Lasser and Joseph R. Lasser, Mr. and Mrs. John T. Marvin, Martin E. and Joan Messinger, Richard L. Yett, and Sheri and Paul Siegel, 1986

1986.1189

From 1853, when he first settled in the city, until 1906, when he lost his studio in the earthquake, Watkins made San Francisco his home. The city’s transformation from a sparsely settled outpost to a crowded boomtown built on riches of the 1849 gold rush naturally attracted the photographer’s attention. While Watkins’s majestic landscapes—particularly his photographs of Yosemite—are obvious precedents for the twentieth-century photographer Ansel Adams, images like the one displayed here, with its compression of foreground and background elements and rigorous pictorial structure, inspired Walker Evans and others who recorded unheroic elements of the built environment in documentary-style photographs.

This album was assembled in 1877 and presented to Ambroise Bernard in France by his brother, sister, and nieces living in California. The elaborate binding includes a monogram “AB” inset with gold, silver, and quartz that presumably came from the mines depicted in other photographs in the album—mines in which the Bernard family may well have been invested.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Looking Up Among the Sugar Pines—Calaveras Grove, 1878

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.556 (7)

This surprisingly modern worm’s-eye view of towering sugar pines—the largest species of pine—appears in an album of photographs made by Watkins in Yosemite Valley and, to the northwest, in the Calaveras Grove of big trees.

Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Devil’s Canyon, Geysers, Looking Down, 1868–70

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Rogers Fund, 1989

1989.1082

This tortured landscape shows Devil’s Canyon in Sonoma County, which is cited in William Bentley’s Handbook of the Pacific Coast (1884) as a “favored resort for pleasure seekers” from nearby San Francisco. Its chief feature was a crevasse six feet in diameter known as the “Steam Pipe,” a Dantean inferno from which steam bellowed forth with a blast that often exceeded the scream of a locomotive whistle.

*Carleton Watkins

American, 1829–1916

Strait of Carquennes, from South Vallejo, 1868–69

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.110

At twenty-one, Watkins left his home in Oneonta, New York, in search of gold rush fortune. When a daguerretotypist in San Francisco asked him to stand in for an absentee employee in 1854, he became a photographer. By 1861 he had established his own photographic business and made his name with a first series of “mammoth” views in Yosemite Valley.

Watkins was at the height of his commerial success and aesthetic prowess when he made this picture at the northermost end of San Francisco Bay, where the Sacramento River meets the bay at the Strait of Carquennes (known today as the Carquinez Strait). Tracks carried rail cars of Sacramento Valley grain right into A. D. Starr’s flour mill, which could then load its finished product directly onto Pacific-bound ships moored alongside.

Adrien Tournachon

French, 1825–1903

and Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Pierrot Running, 1854–55

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.43

In late 1853 Félix Tournachon (Nadar) paid Gustave Le Gray to teach photography to his younger brother, Adrien, and at the same time learned to use the camera himself. Promising to assist his brother, Félix set up a studio for him on the boulevard des Capucines. Adrien worked alone until September 1854 then turned to Félix for help. The two brothers collaborated until January 1855, when competitive friction ruptured the arrangement.

During the time they worked together, the brothers made a series of photographs of Charles Deburau that attracted much public attention and won the gold medal at the Exposition Universelle of 1855 in Paris. Designed as an elaborate publicity campaign for the photographers, the suite of more than fifteen photographs of characteristic expressions forms an episodic visual narrative of the comical misadventures of the pantomime character Pierrot. Necessarily immobile for the length of the pose, Deburau here simulates the chase, not by adopting a running posture but by miming the race. His reaching hands run forward like horses urged on by the charioteer, who leans into the wind of the breakneck speed described by his flying leg.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Seated Model, Partially Draped, 1856–59

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.42

This photograph traditionally has been associated with Scènes de la vie de Bohème, stories by Henri Murger based on the lives of his friends. The character Mimi, a girl of easy virtue, owed much to Murger’s girlfriend Lucille, who died of consumption. Although we cannot know whether this unique print portrays Lucille, the easy attitude of the woman’s pale thin body and her beguiling regard confirm her membership in the sorority of Mimis.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Standing Female Nude, ca. 1855

Salted paper print from glass negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1991

1991.1174

Nadar is known to have made only three female nudes. In one, the lower torso of the model is draped while the breasts are exposed; in the other, the reverse occurs; in both, the model looks directly at the viewer. In this picture, where the entire body is brazenly revealed, the woman shields her face, a generic Eve with a gesture of shame.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Théophile Gautier, ca. 1856

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.256

Ringmaster, publicist, and performer in a highly theatrical life, the legendary Nadar wore many hats—those of journalist, bohemian, left-wing agitator, playwright, caricaturist, and aeronaut. He had success in all these roles, but what he did best was collect a pantheon of friends whom he honored with his generous and perceptive photographic portraits.

The subject of this portrait, Théophile Gautier (1811–1872), was a poet, novelist, and engaging critic of art and literature who also defined the theory of art for art’s sake—art pursued for its own intrinsic perfection. In this portrait by his intimate friend, the hirsute and disheveled writer appears in his working clothes, an apt embodiment of Gautier’s self-description as “the terror of the bald and beardless bourgeois.”

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Eugène Pelletan, 1855–59

Salted paper print from glass negative

Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation Gift and Rogers Fund, 1991

1991.1198

The glaring eyes, tousled hair, and deliberate pose of Pierre-Clément-Eugène Pelletan (1813–1884) vividly suggest the fiery, passionate prose of his essays on art, philosophy, history, social issues, the nature of progress, and liberty. A few years before he took this photograph, Nadar wrote a thumbnail biography of the combative man it lionizes: “The number 1 French critic . . . who is at the same time a poet, a man of style, and a man with heart. . . . I have read critical articles by M. Pelletan . . . that moved me as much as a passage from Sand and interested me as much as a novel by Balzac.”

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Gioacchino Rossini, March 1856

Salted paper print from glass negative

Purchase, Marie-Thérèse and André Jammes and Annalee Newman Gifts, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, and Nancy and Edwin Marks Gift, 1993

1993.233

The italian composer and prolific master of lighthearted opera buffa Gioacchino Antonio Rossini (1792–1868) became the director of the Théâtre-Italien in Paris in 1824. After completing William Tell in 1829 he ceased writing and returned to Italy, where his nerves and health deteriorated. Upon moving back to Paris in 1855, the famous gourmand recovered his spirits and became a beloved fixture of Parisian society.

“I come from Rossini’s,” Léon Escudier wrote Nadar on March 5, 1856. “He will be free tomorrow from one-thirty to two. Do your utmost to make certain that we shall be alone. I have assured him that you will make a portrait worthy of him. Accordingly, prepare everything so that he won’t have to wait.” Nadar exposed two plates. On the other he caught only a vacancy, the trace of years of lethargy, but on this one, identical in pose, it is as if a cloud had lifted, revealing the puckish wit that had survived.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Jules Janin, ca. 1856

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Museum Purchase, 2005

2005.100.723

Jules Janin (1804–1874) was a theater critic who amused himself and his regular Monday readers with his vagabond imagination, capricious humor, and remarkably mobile opinions. Unsure, impressionable, and unfaithful in his passions, this patronizing man made enemies as easily as Nadar made friends. Still, his bubbly informal observations sometimes captured the ephemeral essence of the metropolis. Nadar’s opinion of the critic is plain. The wellpadded, proud, expansive little man rises in the picture space like a hot-air balloon—a dreamy inflated self with a hollow interior.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Pierre-Luc-Charles Cicéri, 1855–60

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gift of Marie-Thérèse and André Jammes, in memory of Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr., 1991

1991.1199

Unlike the portraits of Eugène Pelletan and Gioacchino Rossini displayed nearby, this image has been partially reworked by hand. The shadows beneath and behind the sleeve were painted on the print while the highlights on the shock of unruly white hair were added to the negative. The bright birdlike personality Nadar evoked was a painter, a decorator of the Opéra, and one of many illustrators of Baron Taylor’s famous book Voyages pittoresques et romantiques dans l’ancienne France.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Catacombs, Paris, April 1862

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew W. Saul Gift, 2005

2005.100.813

As the cemeteries of the central wards of Paris were successively closed and the bones transported to the catacombs, workers consolidated jumbled skeletal remains in “walls” up to thirty meters thick. Then, to make them less lugubrious, they faced those masses with patterns of skulls and crossed bones—a macabre embellishment in many variants. The adolescent romantic in Nadar doubtless delighted in the ghoulish decor.

This photograph was made with the artificial light of a Serrin Regulator, an early arc lamp.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Nadar with His Wife, Ernestine, in a Balloon, ca. 1865; printed 1890s

Gelatin silver print from glass plate negative

Gilman Collection, Museum Purchase, 2005

2005.100.313

In 1862 Nadar and Jules Verne founded the Society for Aerial Navigation Research. Nadar’s enthusiasm was so great that Verne named the protagonist of his 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon Ardan, an anagram of Nadar. Even though Monsieur and Madame Nadar’s balloon ascension ends at the edge of the painted sky, this photograph nonetheless captures the relationship between the possibility of human flight and imagination.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Self-Portrait in American Indian Costume, 1863

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.267

Known around the world as the finest portrait artist of Second Empire Paris, Nadar was a giant of a man with a shock of red hair, a thousand friends, and a gift for self-promotion. Given his multiple careers and his sociability, nothing would have been more to Nadar’s liking than a costume ball. However, the fancy dress balls that were all the rage—glittering affairs thrown by the emperor and his wealthy aristocratic friends—also waved a red flag before the rabid Republican Nadar. Outfitting himself as a Native American was certainly a subversive gesture, for if the Indian was exotic to the Frenchman, he was also antigovernment and distinctly endangered, a noble outcast mirroring Nadar’s image of himself.

Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Alexandre Dumas, November 1855

Salted paper print from glass plate negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.371

Félix Tournachon (Nadar) first met Alexandre Dumas (1802–1870) in the 1820s, when the young author brought manuscripts to his father, Victor Tournachon, to publish. After admiring Dumas’s swashbuckling historical dramas at school, Félix became his friend in the 1840s. In 1855 the two men dreamed of writing a play together, but they collaborated on only this portrait, made in November of that year.

Seated casually, his hands folded comfortably on his cane, Dumas addressed Nadar with a jovial vivacity suggesting the camaraderie that was their wont. His lively expression surely owes something to the interest he took in his friend’s conversation, but it also derives from Nadar’s uncanny ability to draw from his sitters their most characteristic expressions. He avowed that even though anyone could learn to photograph in a single session, what could not be taught was “a feel for light” and a quick intuition for “the moral comprehension of one’s subject . . . which permits the most familiar and favorable resemblance, the intimate one.”

*Adrien Tournachon

French, 1825–1903

and Nadar

French, 1820–1910

Pierrot Laughing, 1855

Gelatin-coated salted paper print (vernis-cuir)

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998

1998.57

As Adrien Tournachon’s photographic studio began to founder shortly after opening, his brother Nadar came to his aid by asking the mime Charles Deburau to pose in the character of Pierrot for a series of photographs that would draw public attentio to the studio. Here, Pierrot, having eaten his fill or perhaps stolen a kiss, is feeling devilishly good and savors his fortune with Parisian waggishness.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Kate Keown, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2005

2005.100.265

Cameron, a Victorian wife, mother, and (from the age of fortyeight) avid amateur photographer, surrounded her family with eminent British artists and writers whose literary tastes and moralistic values she shared. Of the painters, her closest friend and mentor was G. F. Watts, who had a broad painterly manner, sacrificing detail for psychological effect, and a huge appetite for Italian art that swept from Giotto to Titian. In her early work, Cameron aspired to an Italianate style that was indebted to Watts’s example. As intense in her pursuit of her artistic goals as any professional, Cameron acquired a larger camera in 1866 and made a series of impressive lifesize heads; she inscribed this one For the Signor and gave it to Watts. He likely recognized the model as Kate Keown, daughter of a neighbor in Freshwater on the Isle of Wight. Even so, the picture is not a portrait but a concept—of idealized beauty somewhat in the style of Botticelli—that manages to convey, like many great Renaissance portrayals, a reserved yet profound impression of animate inner life.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Sir John Herschel, April 1867

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Robert Rosenkranz Gift, 2005

2005.100.25

Cameron’s technique was unorthodox. She purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures (counted in minutes, when others did all they could to reduce exposure times to a matter of seconds). No commercial portrait photographer of the 1860s, for instance, would have portrayed Sir John Herschel (1792–1871)—the nation’s preeminent scientist and mathematician, considered the equal of Sir Isaac Newton—as Cameron did in 1867. In Cameron’s portraits, there are no classical columns, no piles of weighty volumes, no scientific attributes, no academic poses, for Herschel was to her more than a renowned scientist; he was “as a Teacher and High Priest,” an “illustrious and revered as well as beloved friend” whom she had known for thirty years. It was he who had written to her in Calcutta of Talbot’s invention when the art of photography was in its infancy, and it was he who sent her the first photographs she had ever seen. Thus, her image of him would be no stiff and formal effigy; she had him wash and tousle his hair to catch the light, draped him in black, brought her camera in close to his face, and photographed him emerging from the darkness like a vision of an Old Testament prophet.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Philip Stanhope Worsley, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.27

Philip Stanhope Worsley was an Oxford-educated poet who translated the Odyssey and part of the Iliad into Spenserian verse. Tubercular since childhood, he died at the age of thirty at Freshwater, where Julia Margaret Cameron also lived. The intensity of Worsley’s intellectual life and something of its tragedy are vividly conveyed in Cameron’s portrait, made the year of his death. Isolating his face against an indistinct background, she placed his raised and baleful gaze at the very center of the picture. To her subject’s hypnotic gravity she added intimations of sacrifice, swathing the body and engulfing the great head, rendered nearly lifesize, in dramatic darkness.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Christabel, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1941

41.21.26

Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,

Like a youthful hermitess,

Beauteous in a wilderness.

—Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Coleridge’s unfinished poem “Christabel” (1816) tells the story of a young woman debased by sorcery. A dark poem, full of rolling fog and lesbian innuendo, “Christabel” was the kind of tale that appealed to the Victorian palate—a soup of sexual transgression and moral repair. Cameron’s niece May Prinsep appears here as the ethereal Christabel before her corruption. The long exposure time and soft-focus technique lend the work its idealizing gravitas while, paradoxically, intensifying the realistic presence of the individual before the lens. For all her “high art” aspirations, Cameron was always quick to note that her images were “from life.”

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Zoe, Maid of Athens, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and Muriel Kallis Newman Gifts, 1997

1997.382.38

Here, Cameron photographed May Prinsep, her sister’s adopted daughter. By allowing Prinsep’s slight movement and by intentionally softening the focus, Cameron instilled a sense of breath and soul in this living apparition, for the true subject of her photograph was a poetic evocation of love and longing. “Maid of Athens, ere we part, / Give, oh, give me back my heart!” begin the verses composed by Lord Byron as he left Greece in 1810. In the poem that inspired Cameron, Byron swore, “By those tresses unconfined, / Wooed by each Aegean wind; / By those lids whose jetty fringe / Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge; / By those wild eyes like the roe, / Zoë mou sas agapo [My life, I love you].”

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Sappho, 1865

Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke and Anonymous Gifts, 1997

1997.382.39

Cameron often pressed Mary Hillier, a beautiful young house servant at Freshwater, into photographic service. Here, she poses as Sappho for a profile portrait in the Florentine quattrocento style, perhaps inspired by the chromolithographic reproductions of Italian paintings distributed by the Arundel Society, of which Cameron was a member. The image has such presence that Cameron decided to print it despite having broken the negative.

Precisely what the picture has to do with the Greek poet of Lesbos is unclear, especially since Cameron inscribed another print of the same image Adriana. The titles of two close variants reveal that by looking left instead of right Hillier was apparently transformed from Sappho into Dora or, when photographed from one step farther back, Clio. Although Cameron often set out to portray a certain ideal, she also titled pictures after the fact—sometimes because the image seemed to embody the character of a certain literary or biblical figure, but sometimes, one suspects, quite simply because there was more of a market for images of the Virgin, Sappho, or Christabel than for portraits of the photographer’s niece or a parlor maid from the Isle of Wight.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1941

41.21.15

This photograph takes its title from John Milton’s poem L’Allegro, a celebration of life’s pleasures:

Come, and trip it as you go

On the light fantastic toe;

And in thy right hand lead with thee

The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty.

Cameron sent a print of this image to Sir John Herschel (1792–1871), the preeminent scientist and mathematician, who wrote back, “That head of the ‘Mountain Nymph Sweet liberty’ (a little farouche & égarée [timid and distraught] by the way, as if first let loose & half afraid that it was too good to last) is really a most astonishing piece of high relief—She is absolutely alive and thrusting out her head from the paper into the air. This is your own special style.” Herschel seized upon the photograph’s most striking quality, its startling sense of presence and of psychological connection with the viewer.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

After Perugino. The Annunciation, 1865–66

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Bequest of James David Nelson, in memory of Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr., 1990

1990.1074.3

In a style aesthetically allied to the work of the Pre-Raphaelite painters, Cameron depicted narrative scenes drawn from Christian, classical, and Arthurian stories. It is sincerity of sentiment, rather than imitative iconography, that imbues her work with an aura of devotion and claims for it a place equal to sacred art of the past.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Déjatch Alámayou, King Theodore’s Son, July 1868

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.239

Déjatch Alámayou was taken to England after the British defeat of the Ethiopians at the battle of Magdala and the suicide of his father, Tewodros (Theodore) II, emperor of Ethiopia, in April 1868. Queen Victoria took an interest in Alámayou and saw to his education and protection, placing him in the care of Captain Tristram Speedy, who, like Cameron, had a home on the Isle of Wight. Speedy brought the child to Cameron’s house shortly after his arrival in England, and Cameron made ten photographs of the captain and his charge posed among Ethiopian exotica. In this image, the young orphaned prince cradles a little white doll and stares sadly into space, seemingly lost in thought. His name, Alámayou, means “I have seen the world.”

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Alfred, Lord Tennyson, July 4, 1866

Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Michael and Jane Wilson, and Harry Kahn Gifts, 1997

1997.382.36

When Cameron’s husband retired in 1848 from the Calcutta Council of Education and the Supreme Council of India, they moved to England, settling first in Tunbridge Wells, near Charles’s old friend the poet Henry Taylor, and later in Putney Heath, near the poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson and his wife. For Cameron, these men were not merely friends and neighbors but also intellectual, spiritual, and artistic advisors. In 1860, while her husband was in Ceylon checking on the family coffee plantations, Cameron visited the Tennysons’ new home at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight and promptly purchased two cottages next door, which she joined together as the new family home. Cameron’s friendship and determination knew no bounds—indeed, her kindness could be overbearing at times. It took three years of pleading before Cameron convinced Tennyson (who jokingly referred to her models as “victims”) to sit for his portrait.

Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere, 1874

In Alfred Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, and other Poems

David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1952

52.524.3.10

In 1874 Cameron was asked by her friend and neighbor Alfred, Lord Tennyson to illustrate a new twelve-volume edition of his Idylls of the King, a recasting of the Arthurian legend in which the poet laureate projected the downfall of Victorian society. Disappointed by the publication, which contained only three images reproduced as wood engravings, Cameron issued her own extravagant folio with twelve large original photographs and a frontispiece portrait of Tennyson himself. She lavished great care on this, her last project, making more than 180 exposures of her family and friends posed as living embodiments of the moralizing episodes.

*Julia Margaret Cameron

English, 1815–1879

Mrs. Herbert Duckworth, 1867

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

2005.100.26

Cameron rarely made portraits of women; rather, when she photographed them, they appeared as representations of some biblical figure or as a mythological muse, a sybil, or a saint. One exception was her niece, Mrs. Herbert Duckworth, née Julia Jackson, whom she portrayed some forty times without guise. This portrait, which is usually trimmed to an oval, suggests an antique cameo carved in deep relief. Its success lies partly in its subject’s actual beauty and partly in the way the photographer modeled it to suggest Christian and classical ideals of purity, strength, and grace.

This photograph was made the year Julia Jackson, the photographer’s twenty-one-year-old niece, married Herbert Duckworth. Three years later she was a widow and the mother of three children. Her second marriage, in 1878, to Sir Leslie Stephen, produced the painter Vanessa Bell and the writer Virginia Woolf. In her novel To the Lighthouse (1927), Virginia portrayed her mother as the searching, sensitive Mrs. Ramsay, ever suspended in thought. She “bore about with her, she could not help knowing it, the torch of her beauty; she carried it erect into any room that she entered.”

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Botanical Specimen, ca. 1835

Photogenic drawing (facsimile)

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.840

This evanescent trace of a botanical specimen is among the earliest photographs known, dating from Talbot’s first period of experimentation with images produced solely by the action of light and chemistry. These earliest successful trials were cameraless images—what today we would call photograms. Here, the plant was laid directly on top of a sheet of photosensitized paper, blocking the rays of the sun from darkening those portions it covered and thus leaving a light impression of its form. Leaves, ferns, grasses, and other plants were often the subject of these early photogenic drawings, for Talbot was a serious and enthusiastic amateur botanist and envisioned the accurate recording of such specimens to be among the important practical applications of his invention.

The original print, acquired by the Metropolitan as part of the Gilman Collection, remains too light-sensitive for exhibition and, like the two images hanging to the right, is therefore represented here by a facsimile.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

The Oriel Window, South Gallery, Lacock Abbey, probably 1835

Photogenic drawing negative (facsimile)

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and Anonymous Gifts, 1997

1997.382.1

This mysterious view through the diamond-paned oriel window of Talbot’s home is one of the earliest camera images in existence—a remarkable relic of the inventor’s earliest experiments. He brushed a piece of writing paper with salt and silver nitrate and placed it in a small wooden camera stationed on a mantel opposite the window for an exposure that may have lasted hours. The image is tonally reversed—a negative, though the term did not yet exist—as the paper darkened most where it recorded the bright light of the windowpanes.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Bookcase at Lacock Abbey, 1839

Photogenic drawing from paper negative (facsimile)

Gilman Collection, Gift of the Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.629

By taking a photogenic drawing negative made in the camera (here, trimmed irregularly) and placing it on top of a second piece of sensitized paper, as he had done earlier with plant specimens, Talbot could reverse the tones of his picture a second time to produce a positive print. The early results, particularly when photographing in interior light, were soft and ephemeral, as if the rows of books, floating vases, and handless clock were apparitions rather than solid objects.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Winter Trees, Reflected in a Pond, 1841–42

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.2

By 1841 Talbot had improved his chemistry to permit faster exposures, clearer negatives, and stronger, more permanent prints. For some pictures he turned his camera toward subjects traditionally thought suitable for artistic representation—scenes of picturesque beauty or sites of historic interest. For others he arranged objects or people in aesthetic tableaux. For still others, such as this one, Talbot surely must have viewed the world through his camera and found on its ground glass an abstract composition that he would not have envisaged as a picture without the framing and spatial flattening characteristic of photographic observation.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

The Open Door, April 1844

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Joseph M. Cohen and Robert Rosenkranz Gifts, 2005

2005.100.498

Among the most widely admired of Talbot’s compositions, The Open Door is a conscious attempt to create a photographic image in accord with the renewed British taste for seventeenthcentury Dutch genre painting. In his commentary in The Pencil of Nature (displayed in the case nearby), where this image appeared as plate 6, Talbot wrote, “We have sufficient authority in the Dutch school of art, for taking as subjects of representation scenes of daily and familiar occurrence. A painter’s eye will often be arrested where ordinary people see nothing remarkable.” With this concept in mind, Talbot turned away from the historic buildings of Lacock Abbey, his home, and focused instead on the old stone doorframe and simple wooden door of the stable and on the humble broom, harness, and lantern as vehicles for an essay on light and shadow, interior and exterior, form and texture.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Articles of Glass, 1841–44

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel and Harrison D. Horblit Gift, 1988

1988.1047

This simple image, included in Talbot’s Pencil of Nature, was a convincing demonstration of the new medium’s ability to record a subject—light reflected on glass—that had traditionally challenged the talents of the best painters.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Bust of Patroclus, August 9, 1843

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gift of Hans P. Kraus Jr., 1988

1988.1159

Sculpture was a perfect subject for photography: immobile, reflective, and decidedly artistic. In this case, the subject is Talbot’s plaster reproduction of a Hellenistic bust of the Greek hero of the Trojan War, Patroclus. This image and a variant appeared as plates in The Pencil of Nature, and in the accompanying text Talbot expounded on the variety of pictures that could be made simply by changing the vantage point of the camera and varying the lighting.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

The Boulevards at Paris, May–June 1843

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.609

Talbot traveled to Paris in May 1843 to negotiate a licensing agreement for the French rights to his patented calotype process and to give firsthand instruction in its use to the licensee, the marquis of Bassano. Although his business arrangements ultimately yielded no gain, Talbot’s views of the elegant new boulevards of the French capital are highly successful, a lively balance to the studied pictures made at Lacock Abbey. Filled with the incidental details of urban life, architectural ornamentation, and the play of spring light, this photograph, unlike much of Talbot’s earlier work, is not a demonstration piece but rather a picture of the real world. The animated roofline punctuated with chimney pots, the deep shopfront awning, the line of waiting horses and carriages, the postered kiosks, and the characteristically French shuttered windows all evoke as vivid a notion of mid-nineteenth-century Paris now as they must have when Talbot first showed the photographs to his friends and family in England. A variant of this scene, taken from a higher floor in Talbot’s Paris hotel, appears as plate 2 in The Pencil of Nature.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Cathedral at Orléans, June 21, 1843

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, Barbara Schwartz Gift, in memory of Eugene M. Schwartz and Rogers Fund, 1996

1996.5

Talbot passed through Orléans in June 1843 en route to Paris.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

The Tomb of Sir Walter Scott, in Dryburgh Abbey, 1844

Salted paper print from paper negative

The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace and Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gifts, 1997

1997.382.4

Talbot’s second photographically illustrated book, entitled Sun Pictures in Scotland and published in 1845 with no text other than a list of plates, transported the reader via photography to sites on the borderlands celebrated by Scotland’s greatest poet and novelist, Sir Walter Scott. This image from Sun Pictures is a romantic expression perfectly suited to the writer. His tomb is embedded in the shadows of the Gothic ruin, itself nestled among the trees that grow where columns of the transept once rose, the entire scene in turn subsumed in the deep, rich tones of the salted paper print.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Loch Katrine Pier, Scene of the Lady of the Lake, October 1844

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

2005.100.261

Like the image of trees and their reflection exhibited nearby, one senses that Talbot discovered this dramatic composition of light and dark triangles stretching from corner to corner while looking at the ground glass of his camera. This image is among the most compelling in Sun Pictures in Scotland.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Plymouth from Mt. Edgcumbe, September 1845

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.578

Mount Edgecumbe, the home of Talbot’s sister Caroline, occupied a strategic position opposite the busy port of Plymouth on England’s southwest coast. Here, Talbot’s carefully posed figures (who likely include his wife, Constance, and his photographic protégé Calvert Jones) help direct the eye from the battery situated in the private gardens of the estate across the water to the navy’s Victualling Office and, in the background to the left, to the softly rendered port and city beyond.

Attributed to William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Fruit Sellers, ca. 1845

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005

2005.100.607

Talbot was not only a man of learning and a Fellow of the Royal Society but was also a member of Great Britain’s landed gentry. Following the death of his father, six-month-old Henry Talbot was named the sole heir to the sprawling and somewhat ruinous estate known as Lacock Abbey. Established in 1232, the abbey was converted into a private residence and its church demolished after the dissolution of the monasteries by Henry VIII in 1539. The fifteenth-century cloisters of the abbey are the setting for this scene, which may have been set up—or perhaps even taken—by Calvert Jones, a close friend and photographic disciple who often visited Talbot’s home during this period.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

Dandelion Seeds, 1858 or later

Photogravure (photoglyphic engraving from a copper plate)

Rogers Fund, 2004

2004.111

It may at first seem surprising that Talbot spent the last twenty-five years of his life developing a process for printing photographs with ink rather than silver salts. Consider, however, that his early photogenic drawings remain so ephemeral that, despite their exceptional beauty, they can be exhibited only as facsimiles. Even Talbot’s far more stable prints, fixed with hypo (still the standard fixer for black-and-white photographs), were inconsistent in their permanence, many deteriorating in quick order; a reviewer of the 1862 International Exhibition in London described some photographs as “fading before the eyes of the nations assembled.” The rich, chocolaty salted paper prints displayed nearby are rare exceptions, their condition not typical of that of most early photographs. For Talbot, the search for a photographic process using permanent printer’s ink was thus a final step in the refinement of his earlier, still imperfect invention.

This photogravure is the only known impression of this image, a lively pattern of seeds that has both a strong graphic quality and an exceptional delicacy. Like Talbot’s earliest photogenic drawings, it is a cameraless image, in this case made by placing dandelion seeds directly on the coated copper plate.

William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

The Pencil of Nature, 1844–46

Salted paper prints from paper negatives

Gift of Jean Horblit, in memory of Harrison D. Horblit, 1994

1994.197

Talbot’s negative-positive photographic process, first made public in 1839, would change the dissemination of knowledge as had no other invention since movable type. To demonstrate the paper photograph’s potential for widespread distribution—its chief advantage over the contemporaneous French daguerreotype—Talbot produced The Pencil of Nature, the first commercially published book illustrated with photographs. With extraordinary prescience, Talbot’s images and brief texts proposed a wide array of applications for the medium, including portraiture; reproduction of paintings, sculptures, and manuscripts; travel views; visual inventories; scientific records; and essays in art.

Despite—or perhaps because of—the revolutionary nature of Talbot’s undertaking, The Pencil of Nature was not a commercial success. Today, fewer than forty substantially complete copies—many quite faded—are extant. This example, containing all twentyfour plates and still in its rare original fascicle covers, was formerly in the collection of Talbot’s daughter Matilda.

*William Henry Fox Talbot

English, 1800–1877

A Scene in a Library, 1841–44

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.172

An exceptional student, first at Harrow and later at Cambridge, Talbot was a man of great learning and broad interests. Mathematics, astronomy, physics, botany, chemistry, Egyptology, philology, and the classics were all within the scope of his investigative appetite. The Philosophical Magazine, Miscellanies of Science, Botanische Schriften, Manners and Customs of the Ancient Egyptians, Philological Essays, Poetae Minores Graeci, and Lanzi’s Storia pittorica dell’Italia are among the volumes represented in this photograph, a sort of intellectual self-portrait of the man who invented paper photography. Paradoxically, A Scene in a Library, which appears as plate 8 in The Pencil of Nature, was taken outdoors, where the light was stronger.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Man Lying beneath a Chestnut Tree, 1850–53

Salted paper print from paper negative (Blanquart-Évrard Process)

Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1946

46.122.3

Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Évrard pursued William Henry Fox Talbot’s negative/positive experiments and by 1851 was confident enough to open a factory in the outskirts of Lille, in northern France, that cleared the way to mass-producing photographs in the same quantities as traditional prints. At last, photography could hope to succeed as both art and industry. A frequent collaborator of Blanquart-Évrard, Marville contributed more than one hundred photographs, mostly architectural views, to the publisher’s many portfolios.

This image is atypical of Marville’s oeuvre. Its atmosphere of intimacy and nonchalance evokes the achievements of the wealthy amateur photographers of the time more than the architectural views usually associated with Marville. It was published in Blanquart-Évrard’s album Études photographiques (1853), the title of which suggests that such pictures were intended as studies for artists.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Allegorical Sculpture of Industry, Pont du Carrousel, 1852

Salted paper print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis Gift, 2005

2005.100.357

Louis Petitot’s allegorical sculptures of Industry, Abundance, the City of Paris, and the Seine graced the old Pont du Carrousel, built in the 1830s, as they do its modern replacement. Beyond the documentary value such a photograph might possess, Marville may have been attracted to the relationship between the towering, muscular embodiment of modern progress and the impromptu vendor’s table below.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

South Portal, Chartres Cathedral, 1854

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke and Anonymous Gift, 2000

2000.292

The great Gothic cathedrals were a favorite subject of French photographers in the early 1850s, a period of reawakened interest in the nation’s medieval past. Chartres, in particular, was photographed extensively by Henri Le Secq, Charles Nègre, Émile Pécarrère, Paul Berthier, Édouard Baldus, and others. Marville’s photograph is less a document of the jamb figures than a study of deep swaths of shadow and strong sunlight hitting them. Through the open door and arched portal one glimpses an exterior lamp suspended in the sun, a magical detail that pulls the eye through the space and reminds one of the modern world beyond the cathedral walls.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Cloud Study with the Dome of the Invalides, 1855–56

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.353

From his studio on the rue Saint Dominique, Marville photographed the Parisian sky under various weather conditions and effects of light.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

The Mummified Cat (Found in the Excavations of

Saint-Germain-en-Laye), ca. 1862

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.205

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Rue de Constantine, ca. 1865

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1986

1986.1141

Trained as a painter and an illustrator, Marville began photographing in 1851, and by 1862 he was named “photographer of the city of Paris.” In the service of Napoleon III, he photographed Baron Haussmann’s vast program of demolition and construction in Paris. Although he photographed the modern city that replaced old Paris, he is best known for his documents of the picturesque and insalubrious districts slated for destruction. Marville’s photograph of the rue de Constantine shows an expectant moment prior to demolition on the Île de la Cité.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Impasse Briare, from the Cité Coquenard, 1860s

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis Gift, 2005

2005.100.362

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Rue Estienne, from the rue Boucher, 1862–65

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis Gift, 2005

2005.100.358

The buildings that lined the rue Estienne, already being torn down when Marville made his photograph, disappeared to make way for the rue du Pont-Neuf.

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Cour Saint-Guillaume, ca. 1865

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

2005.100.378

Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

Arts et Métiers (Ancien Modèle), 1877

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2007

2007.167

Along with the wholesale redrawing of the map of Paris, Baron Haussmann transformed the urban experience by commissioning and installing tens of thousands of pieces of street furniture—kiosks, Morris columns, pissoirs, garden gates, and, above all, street lamps. By the time Haussmann stepped down as Napoleon III’s master urban planner in 1870, twenty thousand gas lamps had transformed Paris from a place where residents dared go out at night only if accompanied by armed men carrying lanterns into the City of Light. In this photograph from Marville’s final suite of pictures, the flux of humanity flows past in a blur as Gabriel Davioud’s street lights line the boulevard de Sebastopol like proud sentinels of the modern city.

*Charles Marville

French, 1816–1879

The Bièvre River near the Gobelins, ca. 1865

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1988

1988.1071

As the official photographer of Paris, Charles Marville documented the massive transformation of the city under Napoleon III and his city planner, Baron Haussmann, methodically recording the streets and buildings slated for demolition, preserving an image for future generations. By 1860 the Bièvre River, which cut across Paris near the Gobelins, had become a conduit for industrial waste from tanneries, cotton mills, dye works, and leather factories. Marville photographed the Bièvre and the workshops along its banks shortly before the river was covered over and shunted into the city’s sewer system.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Château of Princess Mathilde, Enghien, 1854–55

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund, by exchange, and The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift

through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1999

1999.228

The emperor’s cousin Princess Mathilde hosted a literary and artistic salon at her summer residence in the fashionable resort of Enghien, just north of Paris. In Baldus’s picture, her Italianate villa, shuttered for the winter months, is set within an irregular, softly muffled network of branches. The mood and mystery of the picture come from the tantalizing combination of Baldus’s powerful graphic sensibility and a coloristic impression of light and atmosphere, enhanced by the slight sfumato effect of the paper negative and salted paper print.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Entrance to the Port of Boulogne, 1855

Salted paper print from paper negative

Purchase, Louis V. Bell Fund, 1992

1992.5000

Boulogne-sur-Mer, the terminus of the railroad line from Paris, was the gateway for trade and travel between Victorian England and Second Empire France. It was also the arrival point for Queen Victoria’s state visit in 1855. This exceptionally rich, subtle print comes from an album commissioned by Baron James de Rothschild, owner of the line, for presentation to the imperial court on that occasion, a companion to one presented to the queen. Baldus’s photograph, showing the elegantly engineered jetties that guided vessels from the English Channel past the scruffy shoreline and into the protected harbor alongside the Boulogne station, masterfully renders the soft light and atmosphere pursued by Impressionist painters a decade later.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Group at the Château de la Faloise, 1857

Salted paper print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.50

This photograph and eight others taken on the same occasion were made at the château de la Faloise, the home of Frédéric Bourgeois de Mercey, the seated man in the white hat. Mercey, a founding member of the Société Héliographique, was the director of the finearts division of the Ministry of State, an agency whose patronage sustained Baldus throughout the 1850s. Baldus’s presence at Mercey’s country home suggests ties of friendship between this influential government arts official and the photographer at the high point of his career.

Situated somewhere between English “conversation pieces”—depictions of an aristocratic family with its stately home in the background, a genre of painting popular in the eighteenth century—and the representations of bourgeois leisure that would become a mainstay of Impressionist painting a decade later, the château de la Faloise pictures remind us of Baldus’s training as a painter and of photographers’ struggle in the 1850s to define their medium’s individual identity and its relation to the other fine arts.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Imperial Library of the Louvre, 1856–57

Salted paper print from glass negative

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1994

1994.137

In 1855 Baldus was commissioned to document the construction of the New Louvre, the vast complex linking the Louvre and Tuileries palaces that was the grandest of Napoleon III’s building projects. Beyond admirably fulfilling their documentary function, these large format views are among Baldus’s most carefully crafted and clearly articulated demonstrations of photography’s unparalleled capacity to represent architecture. They fully exploit the medium’s ability to render the play of light and volume and to record the most intricate details, unmediated by picturesque convention or personal style of draftsmanship. The façade shown nearing completion in this photograph faces the rue de Rivoli, opposite the Palais Royal, and is now an entrance to the Louvre museum. The passageway through the principal arch now leads to the glass pyramid designed by I. M. Pei.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Lyon during the Floods of 1856, June 1856

Salted paper prints from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.613a, b

Torrential rains in mid- to late May 1856 caused rivers to swell and low-lying areas to flood throughout France, particularly in the Saône and Rhône valleys, where the flood waters destroyed entire sections of Lyon, Avignon, Tarascon, and many smaller towns. By the time Baldus arrived, the river had largely returned to its banks, leaving him to record not the torrent itself but rather the ruinous shells of buildings and the eerily serene landscape of the postdiluvian city. This two-part panorama shows the hard-hit Brotteaux section of Lyon. Remaining true to his preferred subjects of landscape and architecture, Baldus was able to create a moving record of this natural disaster without explicitly depicting the human suffering left in its wake, as if the devastation had been of biblical proportions, leaving behind only remnants of a destroyed civilization. Sensing the dual nature of these pictures as both gripping historical documents and aestheticized pictures, the critic Ernest Lacan described his feelings as he examined the photographs of streets transformed into streams, houses overturned, and fields ravaged, all represented “with an exactitude unfortunately too eloquent.” “They are very sad pictures,” he concluded, “but beautiful too in their sadness.”

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Pont en Royans, ca. 1859

Salted paper print from paper negative

Louis V. Bell Fund, 1992

1992.5003

The cliff-bound town of Pont-en-Royans—where residents lowered buckets and nets into the river from their cantilevered houses—was a well-known destination for those visiting the picturesque sites of France. Baldus pushed the town to the very top of his picture and banished the horizon altogether, focusing on the rough rock surfaces of the ravine with a realism reminiscent of Courbet.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Tunnel, Vienne, ca. 1861

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.364.14

This view of the railroad station and tunnel at Vienne, twenty miles south of Lyon, is drawn from Baldus’s PLM album, displayed in the case nearby.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

“The Monk,” La Ciotat, ca. 1861

Albumen silver print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.364.64

This rock formation was among the concluding images in Baldus’s PLM album.

Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

Cloister of Saint-Trophîme, Arles, ca. 1861

In the album Chemins de fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.364.46

In 1861 the Chemins de Fer de Paris à Lyon et à la Méditerranée (PLM) Railroad commissioned Baldus to produce an album of views along its southern line, from Lyon to Marseille and Toulon. Addressing the relationship between history and progress, Baldus interspersed boldly geometric images of the railroad tracks, stations, tunnels, and viaducts with his classic views of historic architecture and the natural landscape. In so doing, he presented Second Empire engineers as the natural heirs to a great tradition of building that stretched back to Roman and medieval times.

The twelfth-century cloister of the Church of Saint-Trophîme in Arles, noted for its richly carved capitals, ranks among the most important examples of French medieval architecture and was among the sites that Baldus first photographed on his 1851 mission héliographique. In the context of the PLM album, this picture’s tunneling perspective and the repetition of arches link the famous cloister to the railroad tunnels and arched viaducts that are presented in a similar fashion elsewhere in the volume.

*Édouard Baldus

French, born Prussia, 1813–1889

“Eagle’s Beak,” La Ciotat, ca. 1861

Albumen silver print from paper negative

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.364.63

Baldus’s greatest commercial success came from his straightforward views of historic monuments and modern architectural and engineering projects. While seeking out features of the landscape that possess the same monumental presence as a Gothic cathedral or Roman aqueduct, he nonetheless brought a more lyrical sensibility to the depiction of the natural world. This view of a rock formation along the Côte d’Azur was among the final images in an album that Baldus produced for the Paris-Lyon-Méditerranée Railroad showing the route from Lyon to Toulon.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Organ-grinder, 1898–99

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.129

Although Eugène Atget trained as an actor at the National Conservatory in Paris, his love of the theater served him best when he abandoned the stage and took up the camera. In the late 1880s he began photographing whatever artists needed as models for their work, and by 1898 he had established his practice in Paris.

This photograph was part of a series devoted to the rapidly vanishing street trades, or petits métiers, of Paris. Posed in the street with the attributes of their trades, the knife-sharpener, breadboy, and fishwife were portrayed as stock characters acting generic roles. This image, the masterpiece in the series, broke all the rules. These street musicians are not types but vividly portrayed individuals, and their engaging performance is to the pose what the hurdy-gurdy’s music is to silence.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Versailles, The Orangerie Staircase, 1901

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.132

Of the thousands of sites Atget photographed in Paris and its environs, Versailles was his chief obsession. He worked there from 1901, when this photograph was made, until his death, not only because the royal palace was historically preeminent but also because he discovered many truths in the vast gardens. He came to see that they embodied the essence of French civilization—the characteristic combination of elegance, order, and Baroque excess that repeats, as art, the dichotomies of nature. He also learned that the photographer’s main problem, like that of the landscape architect, is to establish a point of view that directs the movement of the imagination. Photographed from a low vantage point, the expansive avenue and grand staircase in this image raise the viewer’s expectations but seem to lead to nothing at all.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Water Lilies, 1910 or earlier

Gelatin silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mrs. Walter Annenberg and The Annenberg Foundation Gift, 2005

2005.100.521

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

15, rue Maître-Albert, 1912

Gelatin silver print from glass negative

Rogers Fund, 1991

1991.1233

Eloquent testimony to Atget’s regard for expressions of common folk, this photograph was part of a personal survey of storefronts and commercial signs. In another’s hands, the modest façade and rudimentary display (covered for lunch hour and against the midday heat) might be only charming, but they are so precisely framed and lit that they yield a handsome geometry of forms. Atget thus ennobled the little grocery and withdrew it from the predictable realm of the picturesque.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Ville d’Avray, 1923–25

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.435

With the financial security that came from the sale of the majority of his negatives of old Paris to the French government in fall 1920, Atget felt able to photograph for his own pleasure. Free from the concerns of commercial utility, he made many of his most beautiful and original photographs in the final years of his life. This spot was a favorite of the landscape painter Camille Corot—the pond was, in fact, often called “Corot’s pond.” Atget caught the simple rowboat in the embrace of tree branches and their reflection.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Saint-Cloud, July 1921

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.546

Among Atget’s most compelling images are those made in the formal gardens of the royal palace at Saint-Cloud, laid out in the seventeenth century by Louis XIV’s landscape architect André Le Nôtre. (The château itself was destroyed during the Franco-Prussian War of 1870.) Here, Atget focused less on the fountains and statuary than on the abstract masses of dark foliage and their reflection on the still water’s surface.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Versailles, 1923

Albumen silver print from glass negative

The Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr. Memorial and David Hunter McAlpin Funds, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, and Paul F. Walter, and Mr. and Mrs. John Walsh Gifts, 1992

1992.5152

At Versailles, where Atget had worked since 1901, he came to see the sculptures not as felicitous ornaments but as characters in an immemorial play. This picture, which represents Michael Mosnier’s replica of the Dying Gladiator in the Capitoline Museum in Rome, contrasts human pain and artistic beauty, mortal man and the immortal soul. Drawing on his long experience relating near and far objects and vistas in the gardens of Versailles, the photographer juxtaposed the statues so that the figure of Apollo in the background seems to rise like the living spirit escaping the body at death.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Versailles, 1923

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.353

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Rue Asselin, 1924–25

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.134

In 1921 Atget was asked by the illustrator André Dignimont to photograph brothels for a book he planned to publish (but never did) called La femme criminelle. Initially, Atget photographed the façades of the houses with the prostitutes standing or seated before them. After additional prodding by Dignimont, he also made several pictures of the undressed women inside. It would be hard to imagine that the voluptuous forms in those images could be the women in the calico frocks shown here were it not for their attitude of frank, slightly bemused complicity.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Avenue des Gobelins, 1925

Albumen silver print from glass negative

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.113

The apparent subject of this picture is the art of commercial display in Paris in 1925, but the reflection in the window muddles the issue, for it obscures the clothing and seems to animate the mannequins and place them in the street. The picture’s transparent lamination of real and artificial, outdoor and indoor, fluid and static, shimmer and substance dissolves traditional boundaries between fact and imagination.

Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Avenue des Gobelins, 1927

Gelatin silver print from glass negative

Purchase, Rogers Fund, and Joyce and Robert Menschel and Harriette and Noel Levine Gifts, 1994

1994.271

In this headless mannequin, clothed in a simple white uniform, Atget recognized a modern version of the commedia dell’arte clown Gilles, depicted by the eighteenth-century painter Jean-Antoine Watteau, for example. It was for the type of transforming vision seen in this picture, which is among the very last in Atget’s lifelong exploration of Paris, that the artist’s work was so enthusiastically embraced by the Surrealists.

*Eugène Atget

French, 1857–1927

Rue de la Montagne-Sainte-Geneviève, 1924

Matte albumen silver print from glass negative

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis Gift, 2005

2005.100.535

In his earlier work, Atget often photographed in full midday sun so that his “documents” would record all the details of architectural or ornamental subjects. In his late work, such as this image, he often photographed in the early morning, when the absence of people and the presence of a softly luminous light suffused his scenes with quietude. Here, the Pantheon, built in the late eighteenth century as a church dedicated to Paris’s patron saint and converted during the Revolution into a mausoleum for the nation’s greatest heroes, is seen in early morning mist between shadowed buildings—an evocation of the experience of Paris, not a document of its architecture.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

East River, New York City, 1929

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2008

2008.143

Walker Evans dropped out of college in 1922 and moved to New York with the ambition of becoming a writer. Four years later he was in Paris auditing classes in modern art and literature at the Sorbonne, concentrating on the work of Flaubert and Baudelaire. He returned to New York in 1927 and, suffering from writer’s block, began to make photographs. Among his early subjects was the Brooklyn Bridge, which soared across the East River from the foot of the Brooklyn street on which he lived. Several doors away Hart Crane was toiling on an epic poem about America called The Bridge. Although Evans and Crane came to the subject of the Brooklyn Bridge independently, their mutual interest in literature formed the basis of a productive friendship. Crane encouraged Evans’s photography and gave him some early visibility when, in 1930, he published three photographs, including this study of a grain barge and tugboat, in The Bridge.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Torn Movie Poster, 1931

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.59

About 1930 Evans met Lincoln Kirstein, founder of Hound & Horn, a sophisticated review of arts and letters, and co-organizer in 1929 of the Harvard Society for Contemporary Art, the precursor of the Museum of Modern Art, New York. When Kirstein saw this and other photographs, he wrote to A. Hyatt Mayor (later, curator of prints at the Metropolitan), “Evans has done some magnificent photographs of circus posters on barns and drug stores, ripped by the wind and rain, so that they look like some horrible accident.”

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Votive Candles, New York City, 1929–30

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.168

Evans’s interest in street signs, both commercial and handcrafted, shows the influence of Eugène Atget’s photographs of Parisian shopwindows that had been admired by the Surrealists. This photograph of a crudely constructed sidewalk advertisement for religious articles was made on Roosevelt Street in an Italian neighborhood on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. In the printing stage, Evans cropped the negative at both the bottom and the top to eliminate the heads of pedestrians and to hang the votive candles and offerings from the top of the picture.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Bedford Village, Westchester County, New York, 1931

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Gift of Lincoln Kirstein, by exchange, 2005

2005.100.592

This photograph of a shrine to the nation’s oldest incorporated grocer, The Great Atlantic and Pacific Tea Co. (“A&P”), displays Evans’s ability to construct meaning from the juxtaposition of pictorial elements—from the Neoclassical architectural details to the crazy quilt of the American flag and daily specials in the windows of the store, which still stands. Like his study of the torn movie poster displayed nearby, many of Evans’s most sophisticated photographs from the period have a rebuslike quality, disclosing previously unnoticed connections in the world.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Coal Dock Worker, 1933

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.169

In 1933 Evans was commissioned to make photographs for Carleton Beals’s The Crime of Cuba, an exposé of the conditions under which Cubans lived during the oppressive regime of Machado y Morales, a dictatorship covertly supported by the U.S. State Department. Evans neither read the book nor had much interest in its politics: “I simply went around everywhere I could get. I interviewed, and was helped by, Cuban revolutionaries as well as government officials.”

At the port of Havana, Evans encountered twelve coal dock workers as he prowled the streets with a folding roll-film camera. Fascinated by the colliers’ faces and the black dust enshrouding them, he returned with a larger box camera and sheet film to make a series of single and group portraits. Placing the men flat against a plain white wall, Evans defined a new genre that lies somewhere between the mug shot and the informal portrait. This man, holding not one but two shovels, was the oldest of the workers and is the central figure in all the group portraits. He does not appear in The Crime of Cuba but was later included by Evans in American Photographs, the 1938 monograph that accompanied his second exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Room at Louisiana Plantation House, March 1935

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.322

In early spring 1935 Evans took a two-month road trip through the South to photograph Greek Revival houses. This quiet, haunting image of Belle Grove, an antebellum plantation house located on the Mississippi River between New Orleans and Baton Rouge, Louisiana, is the only interior view Evans made on that trip. Although adorned with capitals and columns made from cypress trees that slaves had harvested on the plantation, the room is bereft of life. Wet rot stains the dentils. Graffiti of previous trespassers decorate the once-pristine walls. In this single image Evans summed up his understanding of the history of classical architecture in the South: grand of design and crafted by true artisans, the house was nevertheless built upon an untenable social structure.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Negro Church, South Carolina, 1936

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Joyce F. Menschel Gift, 2005

2005.100.170

Although he was avowedly apolitical, Evans accepted a position in summer 1935 as information specialist in the Resettlement Administration (later the Farm Security Administration), knowing that it would provide him with a regular income and allow him to do what he wanted to do most—make photographs. For two years he traveled, mostly in the South, producing the extensive body of work that secured his reputation as America’s preeminent photographer: pictures of roadside architecture, small churches, main streets, junkyards, and the famous portraits of tenant farmers in Hale County, Alabama, that were later included in the book Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), made in collaboration with his friend James Agee.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Alabama Tenant Farmer, 1936

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2000

2000.329

This study of cotton farmer Floyd Burroughs is one of the masterpieces of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men (1941), Evans’s landmark collaboration with James Agee. Evans and Agee spent several weeks with three tenant farmers and their families, observing their lifestyles and studying their daily activities. Agee’s intensely subjective, even autobiographical writing and Evans’s strikingly honest images of the faces, bedrooms, and clothing of individual farmers living on a dry Alabama hillside lead the reader/viewer on a lyric journey to the limits of direct observation. As a series, Evans’s photographs seem to elucidate the entire tragedy of the Great Depression; individually, they are intimate, transcendent, and enigmatic, like this portrait of the farmer-patriarch Floyd Burroughs.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Kitchen Corner, Tenant Farmhouse, Hale County, Alabama, 1936

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1988

1988.1030

Watching Allie Mae Burroughs work with a simple broom kept in the kitchen corner, Agee mused that everything in the house “might be licked with the tongue and made scarcely cleaner.” Evans’s photographs of the tenant farmers’ tidy kitchen are distilled essences of domesticity.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Billboard, Birmingham, Alabama, 1936

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1990

1990.1169

Evans was one of the first photographers to document the roadside as a site for the radical transformation of American culture. For Evans, the billboard, with its movie-screen scope and alluring, surreal juxtapositions, was the quintessential expression of the emerging media culture. In this deceptively straightforward picture, the artist creates a new ironic reading for the billboard. This handpainted version of the American dream home, with its bizarre disjunctions of scale, skewed perspective, and mannequin-like figures, seems to have communicated in spite of itself just how strange and unreal the promise of luxury and comfort must have seemed to the rural poor victimized by the Depression.

Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Subway Passenger, New York, 1938–41

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Gift of Arnold H. Crane, by exchange, 2005

2005.100.600

Between 1938 and 1941 Evans produced a remarkable series of portraits in the New York City subways. With a 35mm Contax camera strapped to his chest, its lens peeking out between two buttons of his winter coat, Evans was able to photograph his fellow passengers surreptitiously and at close range. Although the setting was public, he found that his subjects, unposed and lost in their thoughts, displayed a constantly shifting medley of moods and expressions—by turns curious, bored, amused, despondent, dreamy, and dyspeptic. “The guard is down and the mask is off,” he remarked. “Even more than in lone bedrooms (where there are mirrors), people’s faces are in naked repose down in the subway.”

*Walker Evans

American, 1903–1975

Penny Picture Display, Savannah, 1936

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.482

In Savannah, Evans came across a photographer’s display in the window of a dance studio. Moving in to eliminate the establishment’s name, he focused on the word STUDIO and the grid of portraits of local citizens just behind it. The local photographer’s montage, with its internal repetitions, evidently enchanted Evans, who also doubtless enjoyed portraying a slice of Depression-era society in one swift stroke.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Allée du Prado, Marseilles, 1932

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.191

Although he had taken pictures from an early age, it was only in 1931 that Cartier-Bresson found his calling as a photographer. First with an unwieldy box camera, then in 1932 with a 35mm Leica (a new, compact, handheld camera), he set out to photograph life in the streets of various cities in his native France and abroad in Eastern Europe, Italy, Spain, Morocco, and Mexico, developing what would become the hallmark of twentieth-century photographic style. He later wrote:

I went to Marseille. A small allowance enabled me to get along, and I worked with enjoyment. I had just discovered the Leica. It became the extension of my eye, and I have never been separated from it since I found it. I prowled the streets all day, feeling very strung-up and ready to pounce, determined to “trap” life—to preserve life in the act of living. Above all, I craved to seize the whole essence, in the confines of one single photograph, of some situation that was in the process of unrolling itself before my eyes.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Hyères, France, 1932

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.460

In his 1952 monograph The Decisive Moment, Cartier-Bresson defined his philosophy: “To me, photography is the simultaneous recognition, in a fraction of a second, of the significance of an event as well as of a precise organization of forms which gave that event its proper expression.”

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Quai St. Bernard, Paris, 1932; printed 1946

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.162

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Valencia, Spain, 1933

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Andrew W. Saul Gift, 2005

2005.100.164

The complex composition of this picture, taken from inside a bullring in Valencia, reflects the influence of Cubist collage on Cartier-Bresson’s work. All the major structural elements are fragmented: the arena doors are ajar, splitting the concentric rings into arcs and the number 7 into two abstract forms. Even the foreground figure’s circular glasses are awry, one lens catching the light, the other remaining transparent. Through photographs such as this one, Cartier-Bresson forces the viewer to accept the disjunctive and mysterious as part of the modern experience of the world; we can never close the door, align the rings, reconstruct the numeral, or clear the attendant’s vision.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Barrio Chino, Barcelona, 1933

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.125

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Andalusia, Spain, 1933; printed 1946

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.165

Henri Cartier-Bresson’s close association with Surrealist circles in 1920s Paris resulted in a devotion to chance and spontaneity that ultimately manifested itself in his adoption of 35mm street photography as his primary expressive medium in the early 1930s. In this picture of two Gypsies in southern Spain, the subjects’ mischievous engagement with the camera admits the presence of the photographer without disarming his astute aesthetic sensibility or erasing the subtle social implications of the situation. Although the picture seems effortless, it is Cartier-Bresson’s finely tuned photographic intuition that has transformed a fortuitous encounter with a couple of marginal characters into a “decisive moment” that flouts bourgeois notions of proper subject matter in a manner worthy of his Surrealist heritage.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Santa Clara, Mexico, 1934

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.442

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Seville, 1933

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.163

A masterpiece of photographic Surrealism, this image is filled with surprises that challenge even the most acutely observant viewer. A small army of children plays in a very unchildlike environment; some address the camera, others continue their activities undisturbed. The picture’s space is intentionally ambiguous: the breached foreground wall acts both as a window to the background drama and as a stage or backdrop for the foreground actors. The photograph seems at first glance to be a collage of cut-out elements rather than an image made with a single exposure. The white paint on the stuccoed wall even blends with the white borders, suggesting that the four boys closest to the camera have literally broken out of their world by tearing a hole in the print itself.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Sunday on the Banks of the Marne, 1936–38; printed 1950s

Gelatin silver print

Gift of Grace and Andrew Schoelkopf, 2002

2002.614.1

Groundbreaking laws enacted in 1936 by the newly elected government of Léon Blum’s Front Populaire granted French workers the right to a forty-hour work week and fifteen days of paid vacation. This picture is likely from a series that showed French families enjoying their first paid vacations that summer; other images from the series were published in the Communist weekly magazine Regards two years later, in 1938. The history of this image, however, is unclear. Cartier-Bresson published it after the war with the title Sunday on the Banks of the Marne and the dates 1938 and 1939, but he may have purposely provided an innocuous title and false dates in order to mask his earlier left-wing connections and to transform a political picture into one that is a more general depiction of couples enjoying the sunshine, a picnic lunch, and a few bottles of wine.

Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Dessau, Germany, 1945

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.170

First exhibited with the title Exposing a Stool-Pigeon in a Displaced Persons Camp, Dessau, Germany, this picture transcends ordinary photojournalism, offering a thin slice of action resonant with human truth beyond the incident depicted. The picture’s dramatis personae are embodiments of Rage and Shame standing before Justice, with a Greek chorus in the background observing the action. The liberation of German camps and their prisoners’ return to civilian life were subjects the photographer understood deeply, having spent three years in German prisoner-of-war camps, successfully escaping to France only on his third attempt.

*Henri Cartier-Bresson

French, 1908–2004

Calle Cuauhtemoctzin, Mexico City, 1934; printed 1946

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.163

The attitudes of the two prostitutes toward their calling, and toward the photographer, are flip sides of the same coin, like the masks of comedy and tragedy. Neither face alone, nor either half of the picture on its own, would be half as arresting.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Woman, 1918

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.206

Man Ray began his career as a painter. He took up photography in 1915, when, finding no one who could make photographic reproductions of his paintings to his satisfaction, he decided to make his own. Soon he was making photographs that were not unlike Marcel Duchamp’s Readymades, ordinary objects elevated to the status of art because so designated by the artist, and Assisted Readymades, objects that the artist “assisted,” or altered, by combining them with others.

This photograph, entitled Woman, records one such object, assembled from equipment from his darkroom—two spherical metal reflectors and six clothespins attached to a plate of glass—in such a way as to suggest breasts, ribs, and spine. A pendant work entitled Man shows a rotary eggbeater, its handle and beaters forming a visual metaphor of the male genitals. To further emphasize the gender-bending so beloved by Dada and Surrealist artists, Man Ray printed a second set of his photographs, reversing the titles of Man and Woman.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Marcel Duchamp, ca. 1920

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.252

Marcel Duchamp (1887–1968), whose Nude Descending a Staircase had caused an uproar at the New York Armory Show in 1913, was introduced to Man Ray soon after moving to New York in 1915. Throughout their lives, the two artists remained close friends, accomplices in their assault on traditional art-world ideologies and art-making practices. Man Ray made dozens of portraits of Duchamp, documenting the latter’s often changing persona. Here, in a fittingly ironic tribute to the iconoclasm of both artists, Man Ray presents Duchamp’s profile in the softly focused, classicizing style of traditional commercial studio portraiture.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Jean Cocteau, 1922

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, Joyce and Robert Menschel Gift, 1987

1987.1001

Even before he moved to Paris in July 1921, the Philadelphia-born Man Ray was deeply immersed in European avant-garde art and thought from visits to Alfred Stieglitz’s “291” gallery and the 1913 Armory Show and through his association with Marcel Duchamp and others involved with New York Dada. But it was Jean Cocteau—Surrealist poet, playwright, filmmaker, and designer—whom he met just three months after arriving in Paris, who introduced him to a broader circle of artists, writers, and intellectuals. Here, one wonders whether it was Man Ray or Cocteau himself who decided to present the wittily deadpan poet as a framed work of art.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Barbette Dressing, ca. 1926

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.357

Jean Cocteau probably introduced Man Ray to Barbette, a Texasborn, cross-dressing trapeze artist who performed to the music of Wagner and Rimsky-Korsakov throughout Europe during the 1920s and 1930s.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Marcel Proust on His Death Bed, 1922

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005

2005.100.183

At the urging of Jean Cocteau, Man Ray rushed to photograph the author of Remembrance of Things Past on his deathbed. In the October/November issue of Les nouvelles littéraires, Cocteau wrote: “Those who have seen this profile of calm, of order, of plenitude, will never forget the spectacle of an unbelievable recording device come to a stop, becoming an art object: a masterpiece of repose next to a heap of notebooks where our friend’s genius continues to live on like the wristwatch of a dead soldier.”

This print initially belonged to Madame Robert Proust, the writer’s sister-in-law.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Frames from Emak Bakia, 1927

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.161

These five snippets of Man Ray’s film Emak Bakia (Basque for “leave me in peace”) can be read up, down, or across. Thus time can move forward or backward in a linear fashion or progress simultaneously. Note what occurs in the second strip if we read from top to bottom: as Kiki closes her eyes, another pair of eyes, painted on her lids, opens.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Kiki Drinking, 1922

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.139

Man Ray’s best-known innovation was, in fact, a new application of an old idea, the photogram: a cameraless picture formed by placing objects directly on photographic paper and exposing it to light. The simple process dates back to Henry Talbot’s earliest experiments.

For Man Ray the photogram was a window on the realm of fantasy. Although any attempt to deconstruct a photogram into its component parts is largely irrelevant to Man Ray’s concept and often logistically impossible, it is worth noting that this rayograph includes the hand and profile of his lover, Kiki. The Belle of Montparnasse sang at the Jockey nightclub and modeled not only for Man Ray but also for such painters as Soutine, Kisling, and Foujita. With the addition of an egg and a wineglass, Man Ray composed a Surrealist love poem to the woman of his dreams.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Rayograph, 1923–28

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through

Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005

2005.100.140

Chance played a central role in Dada and Surrealist art, particularly in the work of Man Ray. Each rayograph—unlike a photograph printed from a negative—was upredictable and unrepeatable. In this exceptionally large and bold example, recognizable objects are abandoned in favor of abstract forms, and the entire composition is subsumed in a miasmic soup of photographic chemistry that suggests the origins of life—or at least the origins of artistic creation.

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Jacqueline Goddard, 1930

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.141

Through his innovative use of the photographic medium, Man Ray carved a niche for himself in the Surrealist circle and contributed a distinct visual character to a movement that was firmly grounded in literary and psychoanalytic theory. In this image of one of Man Ray’s favorite models, Jacqueline Goddard, the photographer reverses normal expectation: black has become white, shadows glow, and gravity is defied. While explained easily enough in terms of technique—this is a negative print rotated ninety degrees toward the bottom edge of its original exhibition mount—the image remains nonetheless disorienting and disquieting. What kind of creature is this woman, who at one moment appears triumphant in her state of suspension and at the next seems to slide silently into a dark underworld—an imaginary water nymph, or a very real femme fatale? Is it the yearning for a higher spiritual realm that buoys her up, or is she sliding into the carnal world of sexuality?

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Arm, ca. 1935

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.24

Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

The Model, ca. 1933

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.97

Man Ray gambled that every woman would like to imagine herself as willowy and lissome as the model in his picture. Even so, it is understandable that another frame from the sitting, which better showed the dress, was chosen to advertise the new line of the fashion designer Augusta Bernard.

*Man Ray

American, 1890–1976

Male Torso, 1930

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.291

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Rain in Paris, ca. 1932

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1987

1987.1045.2

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Rainy Day on the Champs Elysées, 1931

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.574

Born in Brasso, Transylvania, Gyula Halász took the name of his birthplace as a pseudonym in 1932, when he had lived in Paris for six years working as an illustrator and correspondent for Hungarian and German newspapers. In 1929, after accompanying the expatriate Hungarian photographer André Kertész on assignment, Brassaï decided to take up photography himself. His economic situation was dire: occasionally, after writing an article, he would pawn his typewriter, which he would later redeem with his camera after he had illustrated the piece. Despite such difficulties, Brassaï managed to master French during this time and to become friends with many artists and with the writers Léon-Paul Fargue and André Queneau, in whose company or alone he would wander the city at night.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Pont Marie, Île Saint-Louis, 1930–32

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

2005.100.162

This photograph, with its heavy Piranesean vault, intense blackness, and unrelieved axial perspective, is infernal and mesmerizing. Nothing is in focus; our eye plunges through the tunnel, the stained stones blurring in the rush. We emerge on the far side into a glaring electric fog, where the double arch of a second bridge stares back like eye sockets in a hallucinatory mask. Even the most agile imagination cannot coax this River Styx back into the banks of the Seine.

Brassaï did not much care where, in the real world, the picture was made and incorrectly identified the bridge as the Pont Louis-Philippe. Yet he fully understood that the surrealism of such a picture was not unreal; it was, as he wrote, the “actual rendered fantastic by vision.”

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

A Pillar of the Corvisard Metro, 1945

Gelatin silver print

Gift of the artist, 1980

1980.1029.7

Although he often focused on the underbelly of Paris, Brassaï was not without a sense of humor when presenting the profile of his city.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Morris Column in the Fog, 1932

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Marlene Nathan Meyerson Family Foundation Gift, 2005

2005.100.912

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Big Albert’s Gang, Place d’Italie, 1931–32

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, by exchange,

2005

2005.100.821

In his memoir, The Secret Paris of the 30s, Brassaï describes Big Albert: “A huge strapping fellow, a gang leader, surrounded by six more or less colorless lieutenants who worshiped him unreservedly and obeyed him without a scruple. This guy had three whores working for him. I accompanied them on some of their nighttime rambles. Although I succeeded in taking photographs of these toughs, one day they managed to lift my wallet, even though I had already paid them handsomely for their favors. I didn’t lodge a complaint, however. Thievery for them, photographs for me.”

Brassaï exaggerated the menacing sense of darkness by printing the bottom third of his paper black, extending the picture beyond the edge of the negative.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Introductions at Suzy’s, 1932–33

Gelatin silver print

Ford Motor Company Collection, Gift of Ford Motor Company and John C. Waddell, 1987

1987.1100.153

Brassaï made his name as a chronicler of the night. His book Paris by Night (1932) surveys the activities and topography of the city after dark. While it includes photographs of prostitutes and thugs, it treats the seamy side demurely. This photograph, taken inside Suzy’s brothel, was not published, though a view of the façade of the establishment, with the same “client” waiting outside the door, was. The man was actually Brassaï’s friend and bodyguard; the girls, however, were not stand-ins.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Lesbian Couple at The Monocle, 1932

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.161

This photograph was taken at a bar owned by Lulu de Montparnasse on the rue Edgar-Quinet. The evening is well advanced, the couple is easy and relaxed, one woman dreamily leaning against her partner, who gently touches her arm. The display of natural tenderness, however, belies a less tender reality. Violette Moriss, the woman on the right, was a French weight-lifting champion whose double mastectomy, violent temper (she was known to have killed a man during an argument), and wartime behavior grotesquely fit the stereotyped gender reversal of her persona. During World War II, she collaborated with the gestapo and tortured female prisoners until she was assassinated by the Resistance in 1944.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Street Fair, Boulevard St. Jacques, Paris, 1931

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2007

2007.190

This photograph is a variant of an image reproduced in The Secret Paris of the 30s. In the published image, the three masked women look straight ahead, smiling at the camera and at the male spectators who crowd the foreground. Here, they are caught offguard; though still on display, each masked woman seems to retreat into her own interior reality. The photograph masterfully evokes the classical iconography of the Three Graces—a theme taken up by Botticelli, Raphael, Rubens, and countless others—transposed to the emphatically profane setting of a Paris sideshow.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Kiki and Her Accompanist at the Cabaret des Fleurs in Montparnasse, ca. 1932

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1987

1987.1045.1

In The Secret Paris of the 30s, Brassaï wrote of his photographic journeys among the demimonde at night: prostitutes, opium addicts, vagabonds, street toughs, and bohemians such as Kiki of Montparnasse, pictured here with her accompanist at the Cabaret des Fleurs. Born Alice Prin, Kiki was a favorite model of the School of Paris painters, muse and lover of Man Ray, actress in avant-garde films such as Fernand Léger and Dudley Murphy’s Ballet Mécanique, libertine, and renowned wit. Brassaï devoted an entire chapter of his memoirs to Kiki, who serves as the personification of the city at night.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

A Vagrant Sleeping in Marseille, 1935

Gelatin silver print

Gift of the artist, 1980

1980.1029.8

The inevitable suggestion that the homeless, hungry man sprawled on the sidewalk might be dreaming of a finely dressed and improbably large salad links Brassaï’s photograph to the work of the Surrealists. Although he frequently depicted thugs, vagrants, and prostitutes, he did so without judgment or political motive; his were pictures meant to delight or perplex the eye and mind—not to prompt a social crusade.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Nude, 1931–34

Gelatin silver print

Twentieth-Century Photography Fund, 2007

2007.226

This image, one of the most radically abstracted of Brassaï’s nudes, was published in 1933 in the inaugural issue of the avant-garde magazine Minotaure. With the figure’s head and legs cut off by the picture’s edges, the twisting, truncated torso seems to float in space like an apparition—an ambiguous, organic form with an uncanny resemblance to a phallus. This transformation of the female figure into a fetish object is a hallmark of Surrealism that reflects the important influence of Freud’s psychoanalytic theory on European art of the early twentieth century.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Involuntary Sculpture (Elementary Rolling Taken from

a Retarded Person), 1932

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2001

2001.411

In 1932 Brassaï collected and photographed tiny cast-off scraps of paper that had been rolled, folded, or shaped unconsciously by idle hands—readymade Surrealist objects. A selection of these images was published in the following year in Minotaure accompanied by captions written by Salvador Dalí.

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Graffiti, Paris, 1944–45

Gelatin silver print

Gift of the artist, 1980

1980.1029.9

Brassaï took pictures of wall carvings and markings for three decades. Here, chance has worked to magically reveal the symbol of Free France—the double-barred cross of Lorraine, which was adopted as a countersymbol to the Nazi swastika—at precisely the moment of the country’s liberation at the end of World War II. Brassaï captioned the photograph “The political struggle on the wall. General de Gaulle’s Cross of Lorraine, covered over with black paint, begins to reemerge.”

Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

Plane Tree, Paris, 1945

Gelatin silver print

Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 1984

1984.1063

*Brassaï

French, born Transylvania, 1899–1984

La rue Quincampoix and its hôtels de passe, 1933

Gelatin silver print

Gilman Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gift, 2005

2005.100.913

“Like streetwalkers, they were shrouded in mystery. Their eternally closed shutters, their red lights, their huge numbers lit up late into the night, set them apart from the neighboring bourgeois houses. . . . There were many names for them, but they all meant brothel: maison close, maison de tolérance, maison publique, maison d’illusions, or simply maison [house], and in slang there were many more: bordel, boxon, bobinard, magasin de fesses. . . .”

—Brassaï, The Secret Paris of the 30s

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