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.