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September 20, 2022

Dreamy Autochromes of Rural France in the Early 20th Century

Antonin Personnaz (1854–1936), best known for having bequeathed to France his large collection of Impressionist paintings now at the Musée d'Orsay, was also a pioneer of color photography. While residing in Auvers-sur-Oise between the end of the 1890s and 1914, Personnaz produced numerous black and white photographs and, from 1907, autochromes illustrating rural life in the valley of the Oise between Auvers and Pontoise.

Personnaz’s taste in, and knowledge of, impressionist painting nourished his vision and helped train his eye, just as his family’s activity, the fabric trade, must have contributed to his sensitivity to color. “Antonin Personnaz used autochrome in a way that was quite original at the time,” explains Christophe Duvivier, director of the museums of Pontoise. “Most of those who, from 1907 onwards, used this new technique, took advantage of being able to capture color to make portraits or still lifes that were very chromatic, that ‘popped.’ But Personnaz preferred to photograph landscapes at typically impressionist moments, when colors lack contrast: early morning, dusk, during frost, morning fog, floods, or after a snowfall.”

(via Blind Magazine)


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