Art/ Collection/ Art Object

The Boulevards at Paris

Artist:
William Henry Fox Talbot (British, Dorset 1800–1877 Lacock)
Date:
May–June 1843
Medium:
Salted paper print from paper negative
Dimensions:
15.1 x 19.9 cm (5 15/16 x 7 13/16 in. )
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.609
Not on view
Talbot traveled to Paris in May 1843 to negotiate a licensing agreement for the French rights to his patented calotype process and, with Henneman, to give firsthand instruction in its use to the licensee, the Marquis of Bassano.
No doubt excited to be traveling on the continent with a photographic camera for the first time, Talbot seized upon the chance to fulfill the fantasy he had first imagined on the shores of Lake Como ten years before. 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 the 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 horse 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, appeared as plate 2 in "The Pencil of Nature."
Inscription: Inscribed in ink, verso BR: "LA49"
Lacock Abbey; [Charles Isaacs, Philadelphia]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, June 26, 1987

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Pencil of Nature," January 24, 1989–April 9, 1989.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Framing a Century: Master Photographers, 1840–1940," June 3, 2008–September 1, 2008.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art, Jeff L. Rosenheim. "Paris as Muse: Photography, 1840s – 1930s," January 27, 2014–May 4, 2014.

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 268.



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