Art/ Collection/ Art Object

[Fontainebleau Forest]

Artist:
Eugène Cuvelier (French, 1837–1900)
Date:
early 1860s
Medium:
Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions:
19.8 x 25.8 cm (7 13/16 x 10 3/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation and Joyce and Robert Menschel Gifts, 1988
Accession Number:
1988.1031
Not on view
In September 1856, at the age of nineteen, Eugène Cuvelier visited Barbizon. This small town on the edge of the ancient Forest of Fontainebleau served as home base for the pre-Impressionists who popularized the practice of plein-air painting. Three years later, he married Louise Ganne, daughter of the Barbizon innkeeper in whose auberge the painters gathered to eat, drink, and talk about art. Although the young couple settled in Arras, they returned often to Barbizon, where Cuvelier explored the village streets and nearby forest with his tripod and camera, just as his painter friends did with their easels and paintboxes.


Blessed with talent, early technical training, and the friendly mentoring of the naturalist painters, Cuvelier created some of the most lyrical and sensitive of all nineteenth-century landscape photographs. Wide-ranging in expression and subject, his sylvan views masterfully render the dappled light of the forest interior, the palpable atmosphere of a misty clearing in the wood, the muscular power of leafless oaks rising against a wintry sky, or the delicacy of a sapling in spring. Like the forest itself, Cuvelier's exquisite photographs invite us to escape momentarily from the modern urban world and to breathe the air of a place where nature impresses the senses and the soul.

Inscription: Inscribed in negative on print, recto, bottom right: "11"
Possibly the descendents of Eugène Cuvelier; [Michèle Chomette, Paris, France]; Werner Bokelberg, Hamburg, Germany; [Lunn Ltd., New York and Paris]

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography," May 7, 1989–July 30, 1989.

Art Institute of Chicago. "On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography," September 16, 1989–November 26, 1989.

Los Angeles County Museum of Art. "On the Art of Fixing a Shadow: One Hundred and Fifty Years of Photography," December 21, 1989–February 25, 1990.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Eugène Cuvelier, Photographer in the Circle of Corot," October 8, 1996–January 12, 1997.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet," March 2, 2008–June 15, 2008.

Museum of Fine Arts, Houston. "In the Forest of Fontainebleau: Painters and Photographers from Corot to Monet," July 13, 2008–October 19, 2008.

Negative date: 1859-1862.
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