John Beasley Greene (American, active France, 1832–1856)
Salted paper print from paper negative
Image: 23.3 x 30.1 cm (9 3/16 x 11 7/8 in.)
Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, Anonymous Foundation Gift, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Gift, and Marian and James H. Cohen Gift, in memory of their son, Michael Harrison Cohen, 2004
Not on view
The son of a Boston banker stationed in Paris, Greene grew up in the French capital and adopted the techniques and aesthetic sensibilities of the pioneering French photographers of the early 1850s. A well-to-do amateur archaeologist, he made two trips to Egypt in 1853-54 and 1854-55 and there produced an impressive body of photographs of monuments, hieroglyphic inscriptions, and landscapes. In late 1855, Greene set out on another photographic and archaeological expedition, this time to a site in Cherchell, Algeria. Sometime in the new year, between visits to Cherchell, he traveled east from Algiers to the city of Constantine and created a series of striking landscapes that constitute a more personal, artistic, and expressive aspect of his oeuvre than his relatively didactic archaeological views. This boldly geometric composition, richly printed and exquisitely preserved, shows the towering cliffs and waterfalls of the Rhumel Gorge, a place that Théophile Gautier celebrated as "wildly picturesque" and reminiscent of the Baroque paintings of Salvator Rosa.
Greene returned to Paris in spring or summer 1856 and soon departed once more for Egypt, hoping that the warmer climate would prove salutary. He died there before year's end at the age of twenty-four.
Inscription: Modern inscription in pencil on verso, BLC: "1000.36.1"
[Lunn Ltd., Paris and Washington, DC]; Private Collection, 1981; [Charles Isaacs Photographs Inc., Malvern, PA, 2003]
The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 39," December 23, 2004–April 17, 2005.
The Metropolitan Museum of Art Bulletin: Recent Acquisitions, A Selection: 2003–2004 62, no. 2 (Fall 2004). p. 33.