[Study of a Bull, with Man at Right Edge]
Adolphe Braun French
Not on view
Rural life became a subject of intense interest and debate in France during the 1850s. With the onslaught of industrialization and the mass migration of agricultural workers to the cities in search of jobs, concerns mounted regarding the fate of agrarian traditions. To diffuse anxieties, the French government initiated an agricultural fair, or "concours agricole." Throughout the 1850s, well-known photographers were hired by the government to photograph the prize-winning animals; Braun's work arrived on the crest of this wave.
This photograph is part of a livestock series Braun made at his family farm in Dornach, Switzerland. Braun, one of photography's first successful entrepreneurs, produced numerous series--alpine landscapes, peasants in native costumes--which he sold to a mass audience in stereocard form, and to artists as reference tools for their work. In this work, Braun may have hoped to appeal to painters such as Rosa Bonheur, Constant Troyon and Philippe Rousseau, who built reputations as animal-genre painters during the 1850s and who worked frequently from photographs of domesticated animals.