Shelling Beans, Argentelle

Artist: Louis-Adolphe Humbert de Molard (French, Paris 1800–1874)

Date: 1851

Medium: Salted paper print from paper negative

Dimensions: Image: 22.3 x 17.7 cm (8 3/4 x 6 15/16 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Gilman Collection, Purchase, Mr. and Mrs. Henry R. Kravis Gift, 2005

Accession Number: 2005.100.263


Humbert de Molard, freed from financial concerns by the wealth of his landholdings in Normandy and perhaps missing the activity of Paris as he settled in the provincial town of Lagny, took up photography in 1843, just four years after its invention. A clever chemist and skilled craftsman, he quickly mastered the new medium of daguerreotypy and experimented with paper photography by the late 1840s.

Clearly attempting to create in photography the type of genre scene he admired in seventeenth-century Dutch painting and its early nineteenth-century French revival, the wealthy baron and gentleman farmer Humbert de Molard posed his caretaker Louis Dodier (standing in elegant contrapposto, wearing wooden clogs) and other workers in a tableau of rural activity at his château at Argentelle, in Normandy.