Corot and the Cliché-verre in Nineteenth-Century France

Wednesday February 14, 2024 - Friday March 8, 2024
Opening Reception
: Wednesday, February 14, 2024 at 4:30 p.m.
Pruzan Art Center
New location between Wesleyan’s Olin Memorial Library and Frank Center for Public Affairs
238 Church Street, Middletown, Connecticut
Corot and the Cliché-verre in Nineteenth-Century France

Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, French, (1796–1875). "Jeune Mere a l'Entree d'un Bois," 1856 (printed 1921). From "Forty Clichés-Glace (Quarante Clichés-Glace)." Cliché-verre. DAC accession number 1963.16.1.15. Purchase funds, 1963. Open Access Image from the Davison Art Collection, Wesleyan University (photo: M. Johnston).

This exhibition features a selection of twelve cliché-verre prints by French painter Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot (1796–1875) and members of the so-called Barbizon School of painters. Cliché-verre is a graphic art technique that combines aspects of printmaking and photography: a hand-drawn or painted glass plate is placed over light-sensitive paper to create a photographic image. The nineteenth century saw isolated bursts of enthusiasm for cliché-verre, but the technique never became widely practiced.

Both Corot and his friends in the Barbizon School—among them, Jean-François Millet (1814–1875) and Théodore Rousseau (1812–1867)—were encouraged to try cliché-verre by photographers in their milieux. These prints therefore represent creative collaborations of artists working across the mediums of painting, printmaking, and photography. Most of the Barbizon artists abandoned cliché-verre after a few trials, but Corot continued making them intermittently until his death.

By the early twentieth century, many of these artists’ plates had come into the possession of Maurice Le Garrec, a Parisian art dealer. Le Garrec had several of them re-printed, and in 1921, released them in a portfolio, Forty Clichés-Glace (Quarante Clichés-Glace). This exhibition presents a selection of clichés-verre from the portfolio published by Le Garrec, alongside a photograph by Eugène Cuvelier (1837–1900), a photographer who introduced cliché-verre to many of the Barbizon artists.

Read "Cliché-Verre and Friendship in 19th-Century France" by Miya Tokumitsu, Donald T. Fallati and Ruth E. Pachman Curator of the Davison Art Collection, in The Public Domain Review.

Read New Pruzan Art Center to Showcase Two Exhibitions from Davison Art Collection in The Wesleyan Connection.