Louis-Rémy Robert (French, 1810–1882)
Salted paper print from paper negative
27 x 35.2 cm (10 5/8 x 13 7/8 in.)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1996
Accession Number:
Not on view
In addition to the talented designers, artisans, and chemists who produced elaborate creations at the Royal Porcelain Factory, the village of Sèvres on the outskirts of Paris attracted the naturalist painters Troyon, Daubigny, and Corot, who came to sketch picturesque scenes along the banks of the Seine and in the nearby forest. Nurtured by these currents of technical and aesthetic innovation, Robert, head of the factory's painting workshop, took up photography as an amateur pursuit about 1850. As accomplished as his professional counterparts in Paris but unfettered by commercial preoccupations, Robert trained his camera on the intimate, the vernacular, and the natural with a studied informality.

This rare and beautiful photograph—the only known print of this image—comes from a small series of views made at Romesnil, in Normandy; by virtue of their scale, complexity, and authority, they represent a highpoint of Robert's oeuvre. Here, a dilapidated wooden barn, crumbling stucco outbuildings, pebbly road, and pile of sticks are vehicles for an exquisite study of tone and texture. Robert, who in the kilns of Sèvres daily transformed natural elements of earth, water, and fire, found a more compelling beauty at Romesnil in nature's gradual reclaiming of humanity's constructions.

Inscription: Numbered in pencil on print, verso, bottom left corner: "200.029"; bottom right corner: "11212"
Either from the artist to Jules Diéterle, artistic director at Sèvres from 1840 to 1855, to his grandson Jean Diéterle; or from Robert to his granddaughter, to her son Jean Diéterle; Pierre Diéterle; Martin Diéterle; [Galerie Texbraun, Paris, late 1970s]; Jean-Michel Braunschweig,1986; [Baudouin Lebon, Paris, 1996]; [Alain Paviot, Paris, 1996]

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 15," December 9, 1996–March 9, 1997.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Photographs: A Decade of Collecting," June 5, 2001–September 4, 2001.