GUSTAVE LE GRAY (1820–1884)
Cavalry Maneuvers, October 3 from the album Memories of the Camp de Châlons under General Decaën, 1857
albumen print, mounted on board
facsimile signature in red ink (recto)
image/sheet: 11 1/8 x 14 ¼ in. (28.2 x 36.1 cm.)
mount: 20 5/8 x 25 in. (52.3 x 63.5 cm.)
Brigadier General Louis-Charles Auguste Morand (1826-1970);
Beaussant Lefevre, Drouot, Paris, June 2, 1995, lot 17;
Christie's New York, October 3, 1996, lot 18;
acquired from the above by the present owner.
John Szarkowski, Photography Until Now, Museum of Modern Art, New York, 1988, p. 322.
Eugenia Parry Janis, The Photography of Gustave Le Gray, The Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Chicago Press, Chicgo,1987, pl. 1, p. 84.
Sylvie Aubenas, Gustave Le Gray 1820–1884, The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, California, 2002, pl. 165, p. 138.
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Lot Essay

In 1857 Napoleon III commissioned Le Gray to photograph his cavalry of twenty-five thousand men of the Imperial Guard and staff while conducting peacetime maneuvers east of Paris in a training camp set up to prepare his army should they be of need for a future war. Napoleon III and the Empress Eugénie were prominent leaders at the camp, directing all military, and most social and religious activities. The camp was no less than a grand spectacle of France's military might, and the emperor was sure to have his giant feat kept alive through photographs. In Le Gray's work there was the potential to record everything from individual portraits of the officers and life at the bivouac to monumental scenes such as this one displaying the army's finest moves. Each principal officer was later awarded a bound set of photographs as a lasting momento of their time spent serving their country. (See Janis, The Photography of Gustave Le Gray, pp. 85-98 for a complete description of The Camp de Châlons.)

Other prints of this image are in the collection of the Museum of Modern Art, New York (Gift of Paul F. Walter) as well as in a private European collection.

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