This bleak view documents the commercial use by the urban working class of cramped public or quasi-public spaces. In this photograph, the jaunty stance of a smiling, muscular metalworker in his smithy on the passage de la Réunion contrasts with the stiff pose of the woman, presumably his wife, who is displayed like a doll in a box in the window above. Evidently their home and workshop were bundled together at the beginning of this squalid, nine-foot-wide public passageway. This picture and two others by Eugène Atget (see 84.XM.1034.5, and 86.XM.628) are not only documents of specific urban spaces but also poignant studies of the differing textures of battered and abraded stone, dented and scarred metal, and light reflecting from dull surfaces.
Adapted from Eugène Atget, In Focus: Photographs from the J. Paul Getty Museum by Gordon Baldwin (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 2000), 50. ©2000, J. Paul Getty Trust.</p<>