Gilman Collection, Purchase, Harriette and Noel Levine Gift, 2005
Not on view
A career officer in the French army, Commandant Puyo was, with Robert Demachy, a major figure of French Pictorialism. Together, they were among the founders, in 1894, of the Photo Club de Paris and the organizers of its first salon. A skilled technician, Puyo designed new soft-focus lenses for portraits and adjustable ones for landscapes; he perfected the gum bichromate and oil transfer printing processes, writing widely on the subject; and with Demachy, who had revived the gum bichromate print, he published a treatise on photographic printing.
Mostly decorative, with a nod to a modish symbolism, Puyo's work is permeated with a Gallic joie de vivre and a fondness for beautiful women. Women appear in various guises: figure studies, nudes, portraits of professional models or elegant demimondaines; they are also seen simply, and more successfully, in pastoral landscapes as graceful silhouettes in vaporous, flowing dresses. Women gathering fruit or flowers was a favorite subject of the Pictorialists, who saw in the motif an agreeable enrichment of a feminine ideal. In a rare view of the photographer at work, this image of Puyo, Demachy, and their friend Paul de Singly reveals, not without irony, the photographers as hunters converging on their prey.
Inscription: Artist blindstamp on print and mount, recto BR: [symbols in a circle]; inscribed in pencil on mount, verso TC: "70" [encircled] // Puyo // Demachy // de Singly 1909 // Collection privée"
Estate of the photographer; [Galerie Michele Chomette, Paris]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, March 26, 1988