|The first exhibition in the United States and the very first scholarly catalogue on the renowned 19th-century French photographer Charles Marville will present recently discovered, groundbreaking scholarship informing his art, including his identity, background, and family life. Charles Marville, 1813–1879 includes some 100 photographs that represent the artist's entire career, from his city scenes and landscape and architectural studies of Europe in the early 1850s to his compelling photographs of Paris and its environs in the late 1870s.|
Marville has remained a mystery for so long partly because documents that would shed light on his biography were thought to have disappeared in a fire that consumed Paris' city hall in 1871. The whereabouts of others were simply unknown. However, new research has uncovered a wealth of documents that have been critical in reconstructing Marville's personal and professional biography.
Exhibition curator Sarah Kennel and independent researcher Daniel Catan have made discoveries in Parisian archives that have provided the basis for a completely new history of Marville. The most important revelation is his given name: Charles-François Bossu. Born into an established Parisian family in 1813 (and not 1816, as previously thought), the young Bossu adopted the pseudonym Marville just as he was embarking on a career as an illustrator and painter in the early 1830s. Although he continued to be known as Marville until his death in Paris on June 1, 1879, (two facts also just uncovered), he never formally changed his name and therefore many of the legal documents pertaining to his life have gone unnoticed for decades.
Kennel and Catan have not only established Marville's biography, including his parentage and his relationship with a lifelong companion (named in his will), but also uncovered many significant details that illuminate the evolution and circumstances of his career.
The exhibition is accompanied by the first fully illustrated scholarly catalogue on Marville, written by Kennel; Peter Barberie, Philadelphia Museum of Art; and Anne de Mondenard, Mission de la Photographie, Ministère de la Culture, France.
National Gallery of Art Website