Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Chrysanthèmes and Dragonfly by Henri Manuel, circa 1905

Unlike Leopold Reutlinger and Count Ostorog, aka Walery, who seemed to specialize in "entertainment" photography, Henri Manuel, who with his brother, Gaston, operated the largest photography studio in Paris, covered a very broad array of subjects. That is not to say that Walery and Reutlinger didn't ever step out of the showgirl portrait genre, we know they did, but Manuel was the official photographer for the French government between 1914 and 1944, established one of the earliest "news" photo services, and was well known for his architectural studies.

Henri Manuel's photograph of Auguste Rodin and the Duchesse de Choiseul at the Hôtel Biron. Wikipedia

He did not, however, shy away from "eye candy;" far from it! He was quite adept at risque images, and managed to bring a very artful feel to many of his "artiste" portraits.

AVAILABLE FOR PURCHASE Chrysanthèmes by Henri Manuel
This card offers a fine example of this, we think. Without question, la Belle Epoque, in France, was the era of the chrysanthemum. In images of pretty young dancers, mothers with their little girls in tow, opera divas, etc., the use of the chrysanthemum as a hair decoration was ubiquitous. Most often, they are seen worn at the temples, and here Manuel positions the flowers in their accustomed location, but without removing them from the stem, creating a thoughtful study with a feel of nature, and the placement of the dragonfly is wonderful. Really a gorgeous image.

***Note*** It might be of some interest to collectors that during WWII almost all of the photographic plates housed in the Manuel studio were destroyed, making images by H. Manuel all but irreplaceable.

Thanks to Wikipedia for most of the historical information in this posting.