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Eugene Atget (French, 1857-1927)


Also known as:  Atget, Jean Eugène Auguste; Atget, Jean Eugene Auguste; Atget, Jean-Eugène; Atget, Jean-Eugène-Auguste; Atget, Jean-Eugene-Auguste; Eugène Atget

Birth Place: Libourne (Gironde, Aquitaine, France)


Who is photographer Eugene Atget?

Eugene Atget was a French documentary photographer whose main thrust in life was to document the disappearing French architecture and culture during a period of intense modernization. While somewhat known during his lifetime, most of his photographs weren’t published until after his death by Berenice Abbot, an American photographer and admirer of Atget’s work.

Atget’s recognition in America was almost entirely posthumous, brought about by a few people, the aforementioned Abbott and Atget’s close personal friend, Andre Calmettes, who helped Abbot sort through thousands of photographs of Paris. His work has been featured in the Museum of Modern Art, the Library of Congress, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, and several art books. In addition, Atget’s work became a huge inspiration for surrealists, most notably Man Ray who appropriated Atget’s work in his magazine La Revolution Surrealiste in the 1960s.

What kind of art did Eugene Atget make?

Eugene Atget was a documentary photographer whose work almost entirely focused on the urban cityscapes of Paris. His subjects often included animals, flowers, landscapes, and famous monuments. Atget was obsessed with the idea of “Old Paris” or pre-revolution architecture and culture. His photographs were beautiful, ghostly, and otherworldly and as such were a huge inspiration for other artists. Notably, Man Ray used Atget’s work in his surrealist magazines, but Henri Matisse, Marcel Duchamp, and Picasso were also fans of his work and purchased Atget pieces during their lifetimes. Atget was extremely organized, methodically documenting thirteen separate series of photographs up until his death.

How did photographer Eugene Atget get started?

Eugene Atget was born Jean-Eugene-Auguste Atget in Libourne, France. His father and mother died early in his life, leaving him an orphan by age seven. He was raised by his grandparents in Bordeaux. After finishing school, Atget joined the merchant navy, serving time and then moving to Paris in 1878 with the small amount of money he was able to save. At first an actor, Atget was forced to stop after infection of his vocal cords took his ability to act from him. He moved to the provinces and took up painting in 1887. It wasn’t until 1890 when Atget moved back to Paris, becoming a professional photographer around the same time. His work was collected by the Musee Carnavalet and the Bibliotheque Historique de la Ville de Paris at this time, allowing him the freedom to pursue the nascent art form.

How much are Eugene Atget’s photographs worth?

Eugene Atget photograph portfolios can sell for a few hundred dollars, all the way up to $10,000 or more. The most ever paid for a Eugene Atget photograph at a Heritage Auction is $8,125 for the piece 20 Photographs by Eugene Atget (1856-1927) which sold on May 18th, 2017. The set was notable as it had 20 gold-toned gelatin silver prints, all produced by Berenice Abbott, another prominent photographer and the biggest proponent of Atget’s work in the US.

Where to buy Eugene Atget photographs for sale?

See works for sale below. Why buy from Heritage? Art buyers feel confident because our experts know the market and put careful valuations on the artwork for sale. We make the bidding process easier to help you expand your art collection.

How to value Eugene Atget photos?

The best way to value art is to compare past auction prices for similar works. View past sale prices below. When you’re ready to sell, contact Heritage Auctions to request an auction estimate of the likely selling price at auction. If you need a formal written appraisal for estate planning or insurance, please contact our Appraisal Services Department.

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