Sunday, October 30, 2011

Antique Image of the Day: Pompe Funebre (1e Class)

Pompe Funebre (1e Class)
The Victoria & Albert Museum
The celebrated photographer Eugène Atget (1857–1927) began his career in the late 1880s. His life prior to that? Well, those details are decidedly shadowy. Atget is known to have been a sailor and then an amateur actor, but otherwise, he led a secluded, almost hermit-like, life in his Paris apartment. His work in the theatre may account for the ‘stage set’ quality of many of his photographs.

Around 1897, he began a project to record “Old Paris” and, he continued this pursuit well into the 1920s. Atget was an early proponent of historic preservation. He was driven by the disappearance of buildings as plan to modernize Paris swept the city. And, so, he set out to record the character and details of the timeworn streets. Six hundred of these prints were sold directly to the V&A.

Atget is admired also as a forerunner of Surrealism and his modern approaches to the art of photography are praised. His images were often said, as a form of praise, to resemble, “Crime Scenes.”

This image is part of the portfolio sold to the V&A. It shows a hearse of the late Nineteenth Century as it awaits a first class funeral.

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