"MARION" watermark visible in raking light. "Giroux" blindstamp.
André Giroux had been a successful landscape painter for decades by the time he began to practice photography in the 1850s, but as a silent partner in the family business “Giroux et Cie,” he would have come in contact with photography much earlier. His father and his brother, both named Alphonse, officially ran the business which produced and sold daguerreotype cameras as early as 1839. In taking up painting and then photography, André extended the family’s artistic legacy begun by his father, who had studied under the painter, Jacques-Louis David. Ernest Lacan, editor of La Lumière, praised Giroux’s landscape photographs, favorably comparing them to the work of Jules Dupré and Théodore Rousseau.
Giroux’s sense of painterly composition carried over to his photographic production, in which he often carefully retouched and reworked large portions of his negatives. These subtle corrections often helped convey the challenging range of textures in nature. In the present print, for example, Giroux added weight and volume to the waterfall with well-placed marks and shading without sacrificing detail in the aggressive rocky foreground or in the trees at the top of the cascade. Giroux’s “painterly” approach to photography allowed him to overcome the limitations of the slow exposure times required of the paper negative process.
Another print of this image, from the collection of Sam Wagstaff and now in the Getty Museum’s collection, was included in the retrospective exhibition on Courbet, which opened at the Grand Palais in Paris in 2007 and traveled to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2008.
Baudoin Lebon, Paris, 3 November-24 December 2004, Un dilettante chez les Primitifs, illustrated in the accompanying catalogue, p. 71