Unidentified Photographer ()
albumen print from wet collodion negative, Image - h:28.40 w:38.60 cm (h:11 1/8 w:15 3/16 inches)
Matted - h:50.80 w:60.96 cm (h:20 w:24 inches). John L. Severance Fund 1998.176
This photographer inventively expanded the medium to create a rare example of both early genre (everyday life) photography and documentation of artists at work. The collodion negative captured a wealth of detail. The French village courtyard bustles with activity-the artist in the foreground hugs a squirming child and chats with his wife; a group of peasant women in the background heave huge bundles of laundry about in carts and baskets; and an innkeeper poses proudly for the camera outside his ivy-covered establishment. The diagonals of the sloping roofs and the textures of tiles, wood, and stone enhance the composition's visual interest. A luminous glow, absorbed by open canvas umbrellas, pervades the center of the scene.