I made a quick trip to New York City recently over a slightly longer than normal weekend. Although I love living in New England, I really miss the bustle and options that abound in New York. My trip to the Big Apple had a decidedly French flavor. One of my stops was at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. I wanted to see the special exhibit entitled Grand Illusions: Staged Photography from the Met Collection.
This collection of forty images explores the ways in which photography has been used since its earliest days to play with the margins of reality. The largest photo was La Frayeur (lah fray-ur), or Fright, a “painted photograph” by Pierre-Louis Pierson. The subject, Virginia Verasis, the Countess of Castiglione, was a famous beauty known for creative self-promotion. She collaborated with Pierson on a series of portraits to portray her life as theater. She arrived in Paris from Italy with orders to get close to the Emperor Napoleon III for the purpose of influencing his decisions – pillow diplomacy, as it were. In La Frayeur she gave very specific instructions to the painter, Aquilin Schad, on how to embellish her escape from a theatre engulfed in flames. It’s kind of like extreme selfies, 19th century style.
If you’ll be in New York, the exhibit is on until January 18, 2016.
Page-A-Day Calendar 2016 from the Metropolitan Museum of Art