[Seated Female Nude]

Eugène Durieu French

Not on view

Durieu was a lawyer and early advocate and practitioner of photography in France who, in 1853–54, made a series of photographic studies of nude and costumed figures as models for artists. The French Romantic painter Eugène Delacroix helped him pose the figures and later praised the prints, from which he sketched, as "palpable demonstrations of the free design of nature." While the painter saw the accurate transcription of reality as a virtue of photography, Durieu knew that a good photograph was not simply the result of the correct use of the medium but, more significantly, an expression of the photographer’s temperament and vision. In an important article he emphasized the interpretative nature of the complex manipulations in photography and explained that the photographer must previsualize his results so as to make a "picture," not just a "copy."
This photograph proves Durieu’s point: through the elegant contours of the drapery, the smooth modeling of the flesh, and the grace and restraint of the pose, the picture attains an artistic poise that combines Delacroix’s sensuality with Ingres’s classicism, and rivals both.

[Seated Female Nude], Eugène Durieu (French, Nîmes 1800–1874 Geneva), Albumen silver print from glass negative

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