UVaM - University of Virginia Art Museum

Collection

Eugène Atget
French, 1857-1927
The Eclipse, 17 April 1912, 1912
Gelatin silver print by Bernice Abbot, n.d., 6 7/8 x 9 inches
Gift of Derswood S. Chase, Jr. through the Martin S. Ackerman Foundation,
1984.025.201.58

Around noon on a warm spring day in 1912, a small crowd gathered on the Place de la Bastille to gaze at a solar eclipse that was passing over the opposite side of Paris. The Eclipse comes from a series called Picturesque Paris in which Eugène Atget recorded life in the constantly changing city from avenues, squares and parks to cabarets, brothels and street fairs. While crowd scenes are rare for Atget, this scene embodies his flair for finding qualities of poetry and contradictions in everyday life, stamped with that sense of photographic objectivity. During his lifetime Atget worked in relative artistic obscurity, but soon after his death he was discovered and admired as a "Balzac of the camera" whose aesthetic simplicity and directness revealed a keen perception of his world.