Musée d'Orsay: Constant Alexandre Famin Shepherd and his flock

Constant Alexandre Famin
Shepherd and his flock

Shepherd and his flock
Constant Alexandre Famin (1827-1888)
Shepherd and his flock
Albumen print
H. 11.3; W. 17cm.
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Patrice Schmidt

Berger et son troupeau [Shepherd and his flock]

In 1881, the publishing house Giraudon presented its collection of images entitled "Rural scenes", destined for a clientele of "intellectuals and artists": "Instant reproductions of peasants, reapers, haymakers, shepherdesses, washerwomen, etc. This collection, produced by an artist in his spare time, is remarkably beautiful; it offers precious resources for landscape painters".
This description could easily be applied to Famin's work. Firstly, the print of Shepherd and his flock, kept at the Musée d'Orsay, had belonged to a painter, Théophile Chauvel (1831-1909). Secondly, Famin's more familiar photographs for the most part show landscapes and rural views, where peasants work in the fields or look after their animal or animals. These prints were aimed at painters, as a resource to complement their own direct observation of nature. Shepherd and his flock, with the animals grouped in the centre and the calm presence of the shepherd, is somewhat reminiscent of the Naturalist paintings of the time, both in atmosphere and composition, particularly those by Millet and Troyon.
This practice led to a kind of dialogue developing between painting and photography. The photographer, who, like Famin, was often a painter himself, was influenced by the painting of his time, which he in turn came to influence.

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