These two albums contain photographs of paintings by the artist Édouard Manet (1832–1883). Like the complementary Lochard albums, they have been annotated in multiple hands with notes including dates of composition, titles, exhibition and ownership histories, and other information. It is not known when the albums were compiled, though unlike the Lochard albums, the photographs seem in most cases to have been taken during Manet’s lifetime. The paintings by Manet represented in the albums date from 1859–1881; the albums may theoretically have been compiled as late as 1881 or later, or slowly and irregularly over time beginning in the 1860s.
Who took these photographs? The scholar Adolphe Tabarant, who owned the albums in the early twentieth century, identified Manet as the photographer of about half of the items in Volume 1 (see, for example, his penciled note at the top of pg. 9). In 1872, as Tabarant states in his Manet: Histoire catalographique, the artist also began hiring members of the Godet family, owners of a photography firm, to photograph his works.1 In Volume 2, about half of the photographs (nos. 24–42, 56) are mounted on cards embossed with the Godet firm’s address.
In addition to the presence of the embossed address on the cards, Volume 2 differs from Volume 1 in at least two other respects: it was apparently never bound but rather is comprised of loose leaves laid between two portfolio covers. It also includes five installation photographs from a posthumous exhibition of Edouard Manet's works at the École nationale supérieure des Beaux Arts, which was held in January 1884. These photographs offer a unique opportunity to see many of Manet’s paintings hung together in a single space.
Accompanying the facsimile is a list that identifies the painting depicted in each photograph and includes the corresponding reference number in the catalogue raisonné of Manet’s work: Manet: Catalogue raisonné, Volume I (Paintings)
Some but not all of the markings on the pages have been recorded in the list.
Provenance of the Morgan’s Godet albums
When Tabarant died in August 1950, his daughter, Lucienne Tabarant (1898–1989), inherited the Godet albums. In 1960 she sold them as part of a large collection. including more than one hundred letters, household accounts, books from Manet’s library, and additional photograph albums, to the American writer and editor Mina Kirstein Curtiss (1896–1985), who was working on a biography of Manet that remained incomplete at her death. (Manet’s only surviving sketchbook, also available on the Morgan’s website as a digital facsimile, was part of the same collection.) The Morgan Library & Museum purchased the Tabarant collection in 1974 as the gift of Jane Engelhard (1917–2004) and her children in memory of her husband, Charles W. Engelhard Jr. (1917–1971).
- Tabarant, Manet: Histoire catalographique (Éditions Montaigne, 1931), p.21.
Introduction by Sal Robinson, Lucy Ricciardi Assistant Curator, Department of Literary and Historical Manuscripts.