Rayography, 1922. Photograph. Silver print, ca. 1958-1960 mounted on card. 29 x 21 cm. Provenance: Gift of Man Ray to Madame Renée Lemaître, by descent. Bibliography: "Man Ray", Photo Poche, CNP, 1988, ill.8.
Collection of Madame Renée Lemaître
In 1963, the Benjamin Franklin Library, which was part of the American Embassy, organised exhibitions in the windows overlooking the Place de l'Odéon in Paris. Man Ray, who lived next door to the library, came as a neighbour and took part in these events by lending his large-print typewriter to write the labels. Following the exhibition "The Masters of American Photography", he gave six rayograms to the person in charge of the exhibitions, Renée Lemaître, who had become a friend and with whom he liked to discuss American literature.
The exhibition organised on the Transcendentalists gave a large place to Henry David Thoreau, one of Man Ray's favourite authors, who offered to do his portrait. Of course, Thoreau had died in 1862, but he started with an ambrotype which he recontrasted, reframed, and managed to make a modern and evocative portrait of the famous philosopher. This portrait was used for an exhibition and an educational publication of the Freinet movement in June 1975. The negative is kept in the Man Ray collection at the Centre Pompidou.