Eugene Atget was a Parisian photographer of the early twentieth century. In 1898 he became a photographer following an unsuccessful acting career. Using older photographic techniques than were available at the time--a view camera and albumen paper--Atget recorded views of "old Paris": historical architecture, facades, and details; parks and gardens; and monuments and statues. He also made portraits of the peddlers who could be seen on the streets of the city. He sold his images to painters as "studies."
Atget's photographs went more or less unnoticed during his lifetime, and it was only after his death that Berenice Abbott, a friend and champion of his work, acquired his archive and began making prints from his negatives. Abbott also exhibited Atget's photographs, which helped save him from obscurity. Atget entered the photography canon in 1968, when New York City's Museum of Modern Art acquired Abbott's archive of Atget's work. His photographs are now considered precursors to the modern photography movement.
This photograph, along with 47 others by Atget, were purchased by the musuem from Man Ray. The prints came in a commercially manufactured album, 28.5 x 36 x 3.5 cm. consisting of twenty-nine black paper pages, with embossed covers of brown paper-covered board, the album is bound with two plastic pegs through holes in the covers and pages and secured with a cord threaded through the pegs and tied in a bow. To the commercially stamped (in gold) title "Photo Album" the hand-lettered, gold ink inscriptions "E. Atget" and "coll. Man Ray 1926" have been added.
This album had served as a container for loose photographs ca. 1899-1925 by Eugene Atget which had been collected by the artist Man Ray and were interleaved between the pages. There is no evidence that the photographs had ever been secured or attached in any way to the pages. There is no interior text, index or notation of any kind and with the exception of the gold ink additions to the cover, the album appears unused and is in near pristine condition.