[The Beech Tree]

Gustave Le Grayabout 1855 - 1857

The J. Paul Getty Museum

The J. Paul Getty Museum

A beech tree in the Forest of Fontainebleau rears back as if to begin a bow to the photographer who would so majestically immortalize it. Of the many studies Gustave Le Gray made in Fontainebleau, a popular destination for artists and vacationing Parisians in the mid-nineteenth century, this photograph is the nearest to a portrait. With its gnarly roots exposed, the tree assumes center stage, a majestic and commanding force of nature whose trunk glows in the direct sunlight as if lit from within. Its leaves shimmer in the sun's glow, making the dense foliage appear weightless.

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  • Title: [The Beech Tree]
  • Creator: Gustave Le Gray
  • Date: about 1855 - 1857
  • Location Created: Fontainebleau, France
  • Physical Dimensions: 31.6 x 41.3 cm (12 7/16 x 16 1/4 in.)
  • External Link: Find out more about this object on the Museum website.
  • Medium: Albumen silver print
  • Source Credit Line: The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles
  • Signature: (Recto, print) signature wet stamp in red ink, at lower right corner: "Gustave Le Gray"
  • Object Type: Print
  • Object Status: Permanent Collection
  • Number: 84.XM.637.22
  • Markings: (Recto, mount) oval blindstamp at bottom center: "PHOTOGRAPHIE / GUSTAVE LE GRAY ET Ce / PARIS [all within an oval border]"
  • Inscription: (Recto, mount) inscribed in black ink, at lower left corner: "78." [NOTE: corner is lacking]; in black ink, at lower right corner: "No" [NOTE: corner is lacking]. (Verso, mount) inscribed in pencil, at lower right: "178 A [encircled and crossed-out]"
  • Display Location: Not currently on view
  • Department: Photographs
  • Culture: French
  • Classification: Photographs