[Female Nude in Studio]

Artist: Franck-François-Genès Chauvassaignes (French, 1831–after 1900)

Date: 1856–59

Medium: Salted paper print from glass negative

Dimensions: 19.1 x 15.2 cm (7.5 x 6 in.)

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift, through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 1998

Accession Number: 1998.338


This corner of a painter’s atelier somewhere in France in the middle of the nineteenth century is scarcely tethered to time or place; it could as easily be a loft in New York today or, had photography existed four centuries earlier, a studio in the Italian Renaissance. What is surprising here is the absence of even the thinnest disguise—no swags of drapery, elaborate coiffure, or skeins of beads as are commonly found in the work of other purveyors of "studies for artists." Here, the model is utterly naked. With her intelligent head and dirty feet, this young woman helped found the matter-of-fact modeling sorority joined a decade later by Édouard Manet’s Olympia.