Artist: Onésipe Aguado de las Marismas (French, Evry 1830–1893 Paris)
Date: ca. 1862
Medium: Salted paper print from glass negative
Dimensions: Image: 30.8 × 25.7 cm (12 1/8 × 10 1/8 in.)
Mount: 39.4 × 31 cm (15 1/2 × 12 3/16 in.)
Credit Line: Gilman Collection, Purchase, Joyce F. Menschel Gift, 2005
Accession Number: 2005.100.1
A wealthy amateur photographer and a familiar figure at the French imperial court, the viscount Onésipe-Gonsalve Aguado de Las Marismas joined the Société Française de Photographie in 1858. With his better-known brother Olympe, a founding member of the society, Onésipe Aguado was among the early makers of photographic enlargements. The two brothers also collaborated on tableaux vivants that depict with wit and playfulness the fads and amusements of elegant society.
At once a portrait, a fashion plate, and a jest, this fascinating image expresses Aguado's whimsical mood, and is probably an extension of his work on foreshortening. It is strangely devoid of depth, as if the sitter were a two-dimensional cutout, a mere silhouette. The figure brings to mind the compositions of such painters as Caspar David Friedrich and René Magritte, both of whom made haunting use of figures seen from the back.