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Le marchand de coco Nègre, Charles  (French, 1820-1880)

From the portfolio Scenes Des Rues containing five photogravures by Pierre Brochet from Charles Nègre’s photographs. Edition of 250.

Pierre Brochet (1922-2016) was a French photographer, printer and educator. He specialized in antiquarian photographic processes and in the early 1980s played a significant role in the revival of photogravure in France. In 1985 Brochet started the L’association pour la photographie ancienne (APA) which specializes in the study and the practice of the antiquarian photographic processes, especially photogravure. Over the course of his career Brochet, in addition to his own work, executed photogravure projects for many institutions including the Musée Carnavalet, Fondation Claude Monet, Centre National Pompidou and from photographs by a whose who of French photographers including Nègre, Atget, Boubat, Puyo, Salgado and many others. Brochet’s atelier was located in his home in Beaumont-du-Gâtinais, France.

Nègre was among the first photographers to recognize that a great strength of the medium was its ability to capture a moment in time. In the early 1850s he began making genre scenes, focusing on Parisian street life. Many of his photographs were posed, but in 1851 he perfected a lens that allowed him to record nearly instantaneous images. This 1984 portfolio beautifully reproduces Nègre’s earliest genre work. “It is Nègre’s training as a painter that explains his taste for the genre scene, his first attempts in this field, it should not be forgotten, were conceived as studies for his paintings. If he is not a precursor, Nègre can be considered as the master of genre photography because while bringing it to its point of perfection, he sought and found for photography a language of his own, that of the natural (…) In seeking the translation of the snapshot, Nègre was the first to sense what the very essence of photography was, and thereby he prefigures (…) certain images of Atget, and even more Lartigue, Cartier-Bresson and Doisneau. ” [1]


[1] Heilbrun Françoise and Nègre Charles. 1980. Charles Nègre Photographe : 1820-1880 : Arles Musée Réattu 5 Juillet – 17 Août 1980; Paris Musée Du Luxembourg 25 Novembre 1980-19 Janvier 1981. Paris: Ed. des musées nationaux.