Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Howard Gilman Foundation Gift, 2002
Not on view
Serendipity occasionally aids the muses, as here, where a worker's fatigue, a gentle breeze, and a bit of sunshine have helped one of the medium's early masters achieve something far beyond his original intention. Mestral was commissioned by the sculptor Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy Dechaume to document one of his angels of the passion before it was lifted to a high and inaccessible perch at the base of the flèche of the Sainte-Chapelle. Working at the restoration site, the photographer strung up a white canvas to provide a neutral background for the sculpture; however, during the long exposure (perhaps ten or fifteen minutes) that drapery blew in the breeze, softening its edges and folds in a blur of light. As a result, one has the sense that the sculpted angel has come to life and descended a beam of light to appear to the sleeping workman in a dream—like the angel appearing to Jacob—while his companion remains oblivious to the vision taking place a few feet away.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil on verso, TRC: "134 [encircled]"
Adolphe-Victor Geoffroy Dechaume (sculptor, 1816-1892); his descendents; Alain Paviot
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 32," May 14, 2002–September 8, 2003.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 47," September 20, 2007–January 6, 2008.
Chappey, Frédéric. De Plâtre et d'Or: Geoffroy-Dechaume, Sculpteur Romantique de Viollet-le-Duc. L'Isle-Adam: Val d'oise editions, 1998.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2001–2002 60, no. 2 (Fall 2002). p. 29.