The Organ Grinder
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André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri
French, about 1853
Salt print
5 7/8 x 4 3/4 in.

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In this small, oval-trimmed portrait, the organ grinder throws his head back as if lost in the music he is creating. An intimate study of a street performer at work, this portrait can be compared with the Charles Nègre study of another organ grinder, Organ-Grinder at 21, Quai Bourbon; Île Saint-Louis, Paris. In that photograph the subject is shown at the end of the day's work, bent from the weight of his instrument. In reality, this man, too, is bracing his body against the weighty instrument in order to remain posed for the photograph. His hand is upon the handle, but if he were really turning and playing the instrument, the photograph would have been rendered as a hopeless blur. André Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri successfully evoked the spirit of the music-man through sensitive arrangement and natural gestures.