Album photographique avec 9 tirages salés. Chaque tirage avec tampon à sec du photographe en bas à droite. Contrecollés individuellement sur carton. Reliure d'époque, dos de chagrin vert, plats de papier chagriné vert orné d'un triple filet doré d'encadrement, premier plat frappé de l'aigle impérial couronné et du titre 'Salon de 1852' dorés, chiffre 'M' couronné et doré au second plat.
André Jammes/ Eugenia Parry Janis, The Art of French Calotype. With a Critical Dictionary of Photographers. 1845-1870, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 1983, ill. pl. LXIII et p. 201;
Eugenia Parriy Janis, The Photography of Gustave Le Gray, cat. expo. The Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago Press, 1987, p. 170 et ill. p. 38;
Geneviève Lacambre, 'Un photographe au Salon de 1852', dans Hommage à Hubert Landais. art, objets d'art, collections, Blanchard, Paris, 1987, pp. 197-204, ill. pp. 199-204;
Sylvie Aubenas, Gustave Le Gray. 1820-1884, cat. expo. Bibliothèque Nationale de France, Paris, Gallimard, 2002, cat. no. 84, ill. pp. 212 et 213.
In 1852 the Paris Salon is held for the second and last time in the Palais Royal, opening on Thursday 1 April. In addition to the provisional buildings already constructed for the Salon 1850-51 the exhibition took place on the first floor of the Palais itself, where a new gallery with skylights was established just above the glazed passage known as the galerie d'Orléans.
Following the photographer's success of the Mission Héliographique the previous year, Philippe de Chennevières, inspecteur des musées de province and in charge of the exhibition of living artists commissioned Gustave Le Gray to photographically document the principal works of the 1852 Salon. One of the very rare surviving copies of the album LeGray produced is known to be in the collection of the Musée d'Orsay in Paris, equally containing nine salt paper prints each bearing the photographer's blind-stamp Gustave Legray. In both cases, the ninth plate represents not a view of the 1852 exhibition but a view of the 1850-51 Salon beautifully accentuating a group of sculptures, amongst which the Toilette d'Atalante by Pradier now in the Louvre is identifiable at right, showing a figure kneeling down fixing her sandal. On two of the views dating from 1852 Gustave Courbet's Les Demoiselles de village, today in New York's MET, is noticed to have changed place completely. In fact, the regulations of the Salon allowed for five days of closure in order to rearrange the hanging of the exhibits. It is likely that the painting which belonged to a notorious collector, the Comte de Morny, was initially exhibited in the main room and moved to a less prominent place following unfavorable reviews.
Both known copies of this album have the same dark green shagreen binding, the one here only differing in its more elaborate embellishment, such as the additional gilded frame lines, the imperial eagle above the gilded title letters on the front and the gilded crowned monogram M on the back cover.
The monogram may potentially be attributed to Mathilde Laeticia Wilhelmine, Princesse française with the qualification of Imperial Highness (Mathilde Bonaparte), cousin of Napoléon III. At the time of Le Gray's commission the director general of the French national museums and authority over the institution in charge of organising the Salon was Comte Emilien de Nieuwerkerke who, between 1846 and 1869, was officially the companion of Princess Mathilde. Princess Mathilde was very much involved in Paris' cultural scene, presiding over her own salon, a patron of the arts and well acquainted with Nadar who photographically portrayed her. Of her companion, the comte de Nieuwerkerke who headed the Louvre and the Salon, exists a portrait by Gustave Le Gray in the Société française de Photographie. In the absence of certainty, these historical facts may evoke the thought of a link between Princess Mathilde and Le Gray's monogrammed album.
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