Chiffonier (Ragpicker)
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Eugène Atget
French, Paris, 1899 - 1901
Albumen print
8 3/4 x 7 1/8 in.

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In this poignant image, a chiffonier , or ragpicker, pulls his horseless cart through the Paris streets. The deep shadow that conceals half the vendor's face amplifies the intense expression created by his furrowed brow. Despite being notoriously independent and proud, ragpickers were outcasts in the view of French society.

The ragpicker was one of many street vendors photographed by Eugène Atget for his collection of "documents for artists." Used by engravers and graphic artists, the photographs illustrated a large assortment of trades, from produce vendors and umbrella peddlers to cutlery sharpeners and asphalt layers.