The J. Paul Getty Museum

[Organ Grinder at 21, quai Bourbon, Ile Saint-Louis, Paris]

Object Details

Title:

[Organ Grinder at 21, quai Bourbon, Ile Saint-Louis, Paris]

Artist/Maker:

Charles Nègre (French, 1820 - 1880)

Culture:

French

Place:

Paris, France (Place Created)

Date:

before March or May 1853

Medium:

Salted paper print from a paper negative

Object Number:

84.XM.344.1

Dimensions:

10 × 8.3 cm (3 15/16 × 3 1/4 in.)

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Object Description

Amidst a rapidly changing urban landscape, Charles Nègre photographed traditional street people. The itinerant musician, stooped slightly from the weight of his instrument, is about to enter a door. One foot stands on the step and his hand rests upon the doorknob. In comparison with André-Adolphe-Eugene Disdéri's Organ-Grinder (link to 90.Xm.56.4) made around the same time, this musician is depicted at the weary end of a day's labor rather than playing his instrument.

Because exposure times in the 1850s prevented much spontaneity, Charles Nègre had to pose his subject upon the threshold in a stance that the organ-grinder could maintain for the duration of the exposure. The vignette effect of the print's darkened edges was a technical sacrifice that Nègre accepted in order to shorten his exposure time. Serving also as a frame for the subject, the dark rim draws the viewer's attention to the isolated figure and produces a more focused image.

Both Nègre and Disdéri heroicized the workingman a decade before Gustave Courbet and Jean-François Millet did so in painting. In the process, they aligned themselves with the Realist movement in art and literature.
Adapted from getty.edu, Interpretive Content Department, 2008; and Weston Naef, The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Photographs Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), 57, © 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum.

Provenance
Provenance
- 1984

André Jammes, sold to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1984.

Exhibitions
Exhibitions
The Flowering of Early French Photography, 1840-1870 (April 28 to June 28, 1987)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum (Malibu), April 28 to June 28, 1987
The Flowering of Early French Photography: Selections from the J. Paul Getty Museum Collection (December 20, 1988 to May 7, 1989)
  • The Baltimore Museum of Art (Baltimore), December 20, 1988 to February 12, 1989
  • Toledo Museum of Art (Toledo), March 11 to May 7, 1989
Arrows of Time: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum (January 24 to April 2, 1995)
  • Armand Hammer Museum of Art and Cultural Center at UCLA (Los Angeles), January 24 to April 2, 1995
Capturing Time: A Celebration of Photographs (December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), December 1, 1997 to March 1, 1998
Real / Ideal: Photography in France, 1847-1860 (August 30 to November 27, 2016)
  • The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center (Los Angeles), August 30 to November 27, 2016
Bibliography
Bibliography

Naef, Weston J. The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Photographs Collection (Malibu: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), p. 57, ill. no. 55.

Hellman, Karen, ed. Real/Ideal: Photography in Mid-Nineteenth-Century France, exh. cat. (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2016), pl. 66.