Eugène Atget was a French photographer famous for his photographs of “Old Paris” made between 1897 and the 1920s. Though Atget saw himself primarily as a commercial photographer, later artists remember him as one of the great proto-Modernist photographers and an inspiration to Surrealists.
Femme de Verrieres (Woman of Verrieres) exemplifies Atget’s later work. Though it depicts a subject relatively rare for Atget—posing people—the famous documentary quality of the artist’s work can be seen in this photo’s straightforward interest in the central figure, her wares, and her surroundings. Like many of Atget’s late works, however, this photograph lacks clear utility for designers and architects, the sort of clients who purchased Atget’s earlier commercial work. Instead, Femme de Verrieres marks the beginning of Atget’s move toward more thoughtful, often haunting, images.