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Saint-Cloud
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Eugène Atget, photographer; Berenice Abbott, printer
French, 1926 (negative); printed later
Albumen silver print
6 7/8 x 8 3/4 in.
2002.37.14

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Late in his life, Eugène Atget made many photographs in a public park that overlooked the river Seine on the outskirts of Paris. The park at Saint-Cloud originally surrounded a royal château, and contained sculptures, fountains, reflecting pools, and a manicured lawn. This photograph's dynamic composition reflects some of the garden's formal elements. The picture also displays the increased expressiveness that characterized Atget's last works.

Contrary to accepted photographic practice, Atget aimed his camera toward the sun, blocking it with the silhouette of a large tree in the foreground. The viewer's perspective is similar to what would be seen sitting underneath the tree's canopy. The tree frames the receding landscape's horizontal bands of light and dark: a wall of foliage in the far distance, a reflecting pool in the center, and a stretch of grass in the foreground.

Atget's asymmetrical composition is radical for its elegant simplicity--an effect somewhat heightened by the print's high-contrast tones. Berenice Abbott, a young American photographer who befriended Atget and purchased many of his prints and negatives after his death, made this print some fifteen years later.