Image: 16.9 x 21.7cm (6 5/8 x 8 9/16in.)
Mount: 32.8 x 25.3 cm (12 15/16 x 9 15/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
Not on view
Of the thousands of sites Atget photographed in Paris and its environs, Versailles was his chief obsession. He worked there from 1901 until his death, not only because the royal palace was historically preeminent, but because he discovered many truths in the vast gardens. He came to see that they embodied the essence of French civilization-the characteristic combination of elegance, order, and baroque excess which repeats as art the dichotomies of nature. He also learned that the photographer's main problem, like that of the landscape architect, is to establish a point of view which directs the movement of the imagination.
This photograph, taken during Atget's first summer at Versailles, demonstrates his precocious aptitude. The expansive avenue and stately flight of steps proceed grandly and with increasing expectancy up to nothing but the dimensions of a myth.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil in hand of Berenice Abbott on print, verso C: "Versailles 6125 // Escalier Orangerie // 103 degres // 20 metre de longeur // Juillet 1901."
Eugène Atget; Berenice Abbott; [Paul Katz, North Bennington, VT]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, December 27, 1980
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 41a".
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 41b," October 3, 2005–January 8, 2006.
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.
Hambourg, Maria Morris, and John Szarkowski. The Work of Atget: The Ancien Régime. Vol. 3. New York: Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1983. pl. 6.
Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. fig. pl. 146.
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. fig. pl. 165.
Arena Editions, ed. Berenice Abbott, Eugene Atget. Santa Fe, 2002. p. 1.