About a year ago I found myself at an estate sale. It was Sunday, everything-left-is-half-price-day and I sat on the floor surrounded by a stack of books. Even at 1 1/2 off they remained especially pricey. But alas, their previous owner had to have been a kindred spirit and try as I might, my stack of wants had grown much too large.
As I sat there trying my best to whittle my stack down, my mind wondered about what I might have missed by not showing up till Sunday. I aways find myself thinking like this if I am not there on the first day of an estate sale. If these wonderful books were the leftovers, what, pray tell, had already been sold over the previous two days of the sale?
Looking back now I'm sure that my poor husband could see the glee on my face. I don't think he had the heart to tell me to put half of the books back. In the end all was well thanks to the kind cashier who said something akin to "Oh hell take 'em all for $15."
One of the books that came home with me that day was A Vision of Paris: The Photographs of Eugene Atget, the Words of Marcel Proust. Edited with an Introduction by Arthur D Tronteberg, Photographs from the collection of Berenice Abbott.
I was not familiar with her but come to find out she was an incredibly talented photographer in her own right. While working as an assistant to Man Ray, she discovered the works of Atget and quickly became a regular visitor to his tiny atelier. Thanks to Man Ray, Abbott and Calmettes for doing much to insure that his works were not lost for all time.
From a Vision of Paris: "Atget became seriously ill in 1927...In August he sent a note by messenger to his old friend Andre Calmettes; "I am at my last gasp, come quickly!" Calmettes arrived too late, and Atget died alone and helpless. It was Calmette too, who in a letter to Berenice Abbott, penned the only apporopriateepitaph; "may all those who are interested in what he loved so much, that is to say Paris and its art treasures, or in looking at the beautiful pictures Atget made of it, still pronounce sometimes his name, which was that of a strong, courageous artist, of a an admirble imagier."
After the death of Atget, Andre Calmettes divided his negatives and prints between the French government and Bernice Abbott who continued to promote Atget throughout her lifetime.
"...lobbies as long as corridors and as ornate as drawing-rooms, which had the air rather of being there themselves than of forming part of a dwelling." Marcel Proust
Following are additional images from the book accompanied by the words of Marcel Proust. I promise to try and share more from this wonderful book in the future.
I saw what had appeared to me to be not worth twenty francs when it had been offered to me for twenty francs in the house ill fame, where it was then for me simply a woman desirous of earning twenty francs, might be worth more than one's family,