Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Kitchens of the Imperial Asylum at Vincennes

Artist:
Charles Nègre (French, 1820–1880)
Date:
1859
Medium:
Salted paper print from glass negative
Dimensions:
21.7 x 18.8 cm (8 9/16 x 7 3/8 in. )
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, by exchange, 1998
Accession Number:
1998.120
Not on view
In 1859 Nègre was commissioned to photograph the inauguration of the Imperial Asylum in the Bois de Vincennes, a charitable institution founded by Empress Eugénie for disabled workmen. While the pomp and circumstance of the inaugural events were duly recorded, the majority of the photographs focus on everyday life at the institution and its efficient inner-workings: the patients in the refectory, library, and café as well as the nuns and other staff at work in the kitchen, pharmacy, and laundry. Trained as a painter, Nègre organized his photographs with a sophisticated eye for composition and the effects of light. Even in the kitchens, where one might expect to find a clamorous scene, Nègre conveyed serenity by focusing on the neatly arranged platters of fruit and double row of white bowls; the soft indirect light imbues the scene with a sense of immanence.
Charles Nègre; the artist's descendants; Joseph Nègre, the artist's grandson; André Jammes (early 1960s); [Hans P. Kraus, Jr.]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.

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