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Eugène Druet

On view in the Print Study Gallery

A photograph by Eugène Druet depicts a bronze bust of a sculpture by Auguste Rodin, a reproduction of a marble statue that the University acquired in 1950.

On view in the Print Study Gallery

Eugène Druet's photograph depicts a bronze bust of a sculpture by Auguste Rodin.

Vintage Photo Sheds New Light on Some of U.Va. Art Museum's Oldest Pieces

A recent acquisition of a vintage photograph to the University of Virginia Art Museum has added surprising significance to one of the museum's longtime pieces.

Museum director Bruce Boucher said the museum was approached by the Iris & B. Gerald Cantor Foundation in Los Angeles as an appropriate recipient of the photograph because the museum possessed the marble statue.

"The director of the Cantor Foundation suggested that this would be a good fit for us, and in fact it turned out to be more interesting than we thought originally," Boucher said.

The photo is a gift from the Cantor Foundation, he said, one of the museum's 37 new acquisitions or gifts in the past year.

Side by side, the marble carving and the photograph of a bronze bust allow the viewer to compare and contrast the different depictions of streetcar tycoon Thomas Fortune Ryan, Rodin's patron. As explained by Matthew Affron, curator of modern art and academic curator, the installment reveals new aspects of each piece.

"Druet was admired at the time for the great beauty of his rendering of the form," Affron said. "The play of light and dark on the surface of Rodin's sculptures and looking at the photograph allows us to focus in new ways on what you can see in the marble. Suddenly the smoothness of the marble, the perfection of its surface ... stands out in relief against the other effects achieved in the bronze as recorded in the photograph."

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