Eugène Atget, Photographer: L’Art Dans Le Vieux Paris.

Eugène Atget Studio c. 1910
Eugène Atget, Photographer’s Studio, c. 1910.

Eugène Atget by Berenice Abbott, 1927Eugène Atget (1857-1927) by Berenice Abbott, 1927. The portrait was taken in Berenice Abbott’s studio after Atget had recently taken up photography again. In August 1927, he died. It was at Man Ray’s suggestion that Berenice Abbott introduced herself to Atget in 1925 and began taking photographs of him. Of her subject she observed: “[Atget] will be remembered as an urbanist historian, a genuine romanticist, a lover of Paris, a Balzac of the camera, from whose work we can weave a large tapestry of French civilization.” (quoted in Paris Eugène Atget 1857-1927, Taschen, 2000, p. 22).

Atget anonymous
Eugène Atget in an anonymously-taken photograph. Atget was born in 1857 near Bordeaux (Libourne) and after his parents died in 1862, the 5-year-old boy was brought up by his grandparents in Bordeaux. Atget received a solid education and, similar to Paul Gauguin, eventually went to sea in the merchant navy and later, in 1878, settled in Paris where he aspired to be a dramatic actor. For the next decade, Atget was a traveling thespian in the Paris theaters. Even after he left Paris and the theater profession in 1888 to become a fine arts painter in the provinces, Atget always considered himself to be an actor. By 1890, his brief painting career over, Atget was back in Paris where he decided to become a documentary photographer.

Atget, Children Playing Luxembourg Gardens, c 1898
Eugène Atget, Children Playing, Luxembourg Gardens, c.1898. Atget created many photographs with people in them, including this straightforward portrayal of Parisian life that also serves as a document of historical interest.

Atget The Old School of Medicine, 1898.
Eugène Atget, The Old School of Medicine, Rue de la Bûcherie, 1898. Near the cathedral Notre Dame de Paris and the Place Maubert, between La Seine and Boulevard Saint-Germain, Rue de la Bûcherie is one of the oldest Left Bank streets. In the Middle Ages discarded meats were prepared here to feed the poor. The dome of this sixteenth-century building built for the University of Paris housed an auditorium in which classes were held. In Atget’s time it was a hotel that housed a street-level wine shop. After 1910 it became a school dormitory and a library after that. Today, the Old School of Medicine has been restored to original appearance.

Atget, St-Julien-le-Pauvre Facade
Eugène Atget, Façade, St-Julien-le-Pauvre, 1898. The chapel on this site since the sixth century was destroyed in the ninth century by the Normans. Remnants of a twelfth century church that was sacked by students in 1524 remain after the church was reconstructed in 1651. During the French Revolution the church was used to store and sell various stock, and rededicated as a church in 1826. When Atget photographed it, St Julien-le-Pauvre was a Melkite Catholic Church which it is today. The arch at the top of Atget’s photograph is a camera effect from the glass plate not being covered by the lens. The church guard is seated to one side of the main door. The buildings to the side of the passageway in the photograph are largely gone today.

Atget Place Saint Medard
Eugène Atget, Place Saint-Médard, 1889-99.

Atget, Hotel de Brinvilliers Rue Charles V
Eugène Atget, Hôtel de Brinvilliers, Rue Charles V, 1900.

Atget, Au Bon Puits, rue Michel-Le-Comte, 1901
Eugène Atget, Au Bon Puits, rue Michel-Le-Comte, 1901.

Atget, Lampshade seller, rue Lepic
Eugène Atget, Lampshade Seller, rue Lepic, 1901.

Ragpicker, avenue des Gobelins, 1901Eugène Atget, Ragpicker, avenue des Gobelins, 1901.

Atget, Fountains at Juvisy, 1902. Eugène Atget, Fountains at Juvisy, 1902.

Atget. Petit Bacchus, 61, rue-St-Louis-en-l'Ile, 1901-02
Eugène Atget, Petit Bacchus, rue-St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 1901-02.

Atget,Au Petit Bacchus rue St-Louis-en-Ile detail
Eugène Atget, detail, Petit Bacchus, rue-St-Louis-en-l’Ile, 1901-02.

Atget, Temple of Love, the Petit Trianon, 1902.
Eugène Atget, The Temple of Love, the Petit Trianon, 1902.

Atget, Paris Antique Store, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honore 1902
Eugène Atget, Paris Antique Store, Rue du Faubourg-Saint-Honoré, 1902.

Atget, Paris Maison, Place du Caire, 1903
Eugène Atget, Façade du no 2 , Place du Caire, 1903.

Atget, Courtyard of Farewells, Fontainebleau, 1903Eugène Atget, Courtyard of Farewells, Fontainebleau, 1903.

Atget, Ancienne Barrière du Trône, Paris, 1903-04.Eugène Atget, Ancienne Barrière (tollgate) du Trône, Paris, 1903-04.

Atget, France Triumphant, Versailles, 1904Eugène Atget, France Triumphant, Versailles, 1904.

Atget, Paris Palais Royal
Eugène Atget, Palais-Royal, Paris, 1904-05.

Atget, Tree Roots, Saint Cloud Park, 1906.
Eugène Atget, Tree Roots, Saint Cloud Park, 1906.

Atget, Rue Sainte Opportune, Paris, 1908 (or 1912)
Eugène Atget, Rue Sainte Opportune, Paris, 1908 (or 1912).

Eugène Atget, Water Lilies, before 1911.Eugène Atget, Water Lilies, before 1911.

Old Courtyard, rue Quincampoix, 1908 or 1912.
Eugène Atget, Old Courtyard, rue Quincampoix, 1908 or 1912.

Atget, Entrée du passage de la Réunion, 1 et 3 Rue du Maure, 3° arrondissement en 1911.
Eugène Atget, Entrée du passage de la Réunion, 1 et 3 Rue du Maure, 3° arrondissement, 1911.

Atget, Tinsmith's Shop, rue de la Reynie, 1912
Eugène Atget, Tinsmith’s Shop, rue de la Reynie, 1912.

Dress shop, rue de la Corderie, 1920.
Eugène Atget, Dress shop, rue de la Corderie, 1920.

Atget, Hairdresser's shop, boulevard de Strasbourg, 1912
Eugène Atget, Hairdresser’s shop, boulevard de Strasbourg, 1912.

Atget, Ragpicker's Hut, 1912.
Eugène Atget, Ragpicker’s Hut, 1912.

Atget, old mill, Charenton 1915.Eugène Atget, Old Mill, Charenton, 1915.

Atget, Reflecting Pool, Saint-Cloud, 1915-19.Eugène Atget, Reflecting Pool, Saint-Cloud, 1915-19.

Atget, rue de l'hotel de Ville 1921Eugène Atget, Rue de l’Hôtel de Ville, 1921.

Atget, Cour de Rouen, 1915.Eugène Atget, Cour de Rouen, 1915.

Atget, Hotel Richelieu, 18 quai de Bethune 4th 1900Eugène Atget, Hôtel Richelieu, 18 quai de Béthune, (4th arr.), 1900.

Atget, Ancienne maison de la maitrise 1902Eugène Atget, Ancienne maison de la maîtrise, 1902.

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