"Such delights only come from skilful hands". Gautier and Art Photography
by Stéphane Guégan
Théophile Gautier's first contact with photography was as a practitioner. A precocious encounter: it was the summer of 1840 when he set off to explore Spain with Eugène Piot, where together they produced several daguerreotypes. After 1850, in support of the revolutionary calotype technique, Gautier devoted himself to explaining the possibilities and distinctive features of this new medium, that was then unsettling the art world. These major writings on "the intruder" date from 1857 to 1862 and were influenced by his friendships with Jules Ziegler and Nadar.
The Graceful Figure. Aspects of Mallarméan Eroticism
by Sébastien Muller
Mallarmé's poetry established an extremely creative link between the new classicism of the French Enlightenment and free verse, and was largely based on the eroticism of the female figure. Moving beyond the perfect figure of the Venus de Milo, Mallarmé's images echoed the artworks of his own time. A lively incarnation of the equivalence of the arts, Pradier's Nyssia, inspired by Gautier, thus presents "this poem where the stanzas are contours". Twenty-five years later, with their incisive lines, Manet’s images would accompany the afternoon of the faun. Mallarmé's text thus found a form of completeness: transported by its illustration, the whole page was raised to the visual power of pure music.
A Photographic Obsession, digressions on an acquisition from the Musée d’Orsay photographic collection
by Dominique de Font-Réaulx
There are still questions about the origin and purpose of six plates acquired by the Musée d’Orsay in 2005, consisting of scenes of martyrdom and execution. Among the tableaux vivant, imaginary tales and family portraits, this series of images strangely touches on some of the preoccupations of photographers in the second half of the 19th century, both amateur and professional, and heralds the photo-collages of the Surrealists.
Bibliography of reviews
The Société des Amis du Musée d'Orsay