[Organ Grinder at 21, quai Bourbon, Ile Saint-Louis, Paris]

Charles Nègrebefore March or May 1853

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum
Los Angeles, United States

Amidst a rapidly changing urban landscape, Charles Nègre photographed traditional street people. The itinerant musician, stooped slightly from the weight of his instrument, is about to enter a door. One foot stands on the step and his hand rests upon the doorknob. In comparison with André-Adolphe-Eugene Disdéri's Organ-Grinder, made around the same time, this musician is depicted at the weary end of a day's labor rather than playing at his instrument.

Because exposure times in the 1850s prevented much spontaneity, Charles Nègre had to pose his subject upon the threshold in a stance that the organ-grinder could maintain for the duration of the exposure. The vignette effect of the print's darkened edges was a technical sacrifice that Nègre accepted in order to shorten his exposure time. Serving also as a frame for the subject, the dark rim draws the viewer's attention to the isolated figure and produces a more focused image.


  • Title: [Organ Grinder at 21, quai Bourbon, Ile Saint-Louis, Paris]
  • Creator: Charles Nègre
  • Date: before March or May 1853
  • Location Created: Paris, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 10 x 8.3 cm (3 15/16 x 3 1/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Salted paper print from a paper negative
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: (Recto) initialled in the negative, at lower left corner: "C N."
  • Object Type: Print
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.XM.344.1
  • Inscription: (Recto) inscribed in pencil: "B59 / Expos. Fr. H 19 - Princeton 1983 / See also print in BN (After Daguerre)"
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Photographs


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