Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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The Ramparts of Carcassonne

Artist:
Gustave Le Gray (French, 1820–1884)
Artist:
Auguste Mestral (French, Rans 1812–1884 Rans)
Date:
1851
Medium:
Salted paper print from waxed paper negative
Dimensions:
Image: 23.5 x 33.2 cm (9 1/4 x 13 1/16 in.) Mount: 31.2 x 45.2 cm (12 5/16 x 17 13/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.34
Not on view
For the Missions Héliographiques, Le Gray was assigned the Loire Valley and the regions just to the south, toward Bordeaux; Mestral was to cover the southwest, from Bordeaux to Perpignan, and the Auvergne. But the two decided instead to travel together, sometimes photographing sites on one another's list and occasionally working in collaboration, as indicated by the inscription in Le Gray's hand at the lower right of this print, "Gustave Le Gray et Mestral." No site on their itinerary yielded more dramatic images than the city of Carcassonne, its thirteenth-century fortifications an outstanding model of medieval military architecture. These photographs are of special interest to modern viewers as a rare pictorial record of Carcassonne just prior to the extensive reconstruction begun under the direction of Eugène Viollet-le-Duc.

Carcassonne'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 the 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.
Inscription: Signed in black ink, recto BR: "Gustave Le Gray et Mestral"; blindstamp on print, recto BL: "GUSTAVE // LEGRAY."
Gustave Le Gray; [...]; [François Braunschweig, Paris]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, April 3, 1978

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," June 4, 1987–August 16, 1987.

Art Institute of Chicago. "The Photography of Gustave Le Gray," September 18, 1987–December 6, 1987.

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.

Carrousel du Louvre, Paris. "Constructed Views: Photography and Architecture," November 19, 1998–November 23, 1998.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Photography from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," February 26, 1999–May 23, 1999.

Bibliothèque Nationale de France. "Gustave Le Gray 1820-1884," March 15, 2002–June 15, 2002.

J. Paul Getty Museum. "Gustave Le Gray 1820-1884," July 9, 2002–September 29, 2002.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Master Photographs from the Gilman Collection: A Landmark Acquisition," June 28, 2005–September 6, 2005.

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

Kansas City, Mo. Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," October 19, 2013–February 9, 2014.

Saint Louis Art Museum. "Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet," March 16–July 6, 2014.

Parry Janis, Eugenia. The Photography of Gustave Le Gray. Chicago: Art Institute of Chicago, 1987. no. 1.

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. no. 39.

Aubenas, Sylvie. Gustave Le Gray, 1820–1884. Paris: Bibliothèque Nationale de France, 2002. no. pl. 53, p. 71, fig. 80.

Kelly, Simon, and April M. Watson. Impressionist France: Visions of Nation from Le Gray to Monet. St. Louis: Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, 2013. no. 25, pp. 120–21.



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