Accompanying the current exhibition at the National Gallery of Art, Charles Marville: Photographer of Paris (Univ. of Chicago, $60), casts a spotlight on one of the most gifted photographers of the 19th century. Highlighting the works of the master photographer, Charles Marville, the monograph takes readers back to the mid-1800s, putting us among the people and on the boulevards of the “City of Lights.” Through opulent dusk and fog, Marville’s sepia-toned images capture the spirit and beauty of Paris as it underwent radical transformation through Napoleon III’s modernization program. Commissioned as the official photographer of Paris, Marville created pictures that testify both to the city of a bygone era and his own timeless talent.
Vincent van Gogh’s The Large Plane Trees and The Road Menders are similar in design and composition. But in fact, the artist copied the second from the first, making bolder color choices and sharpening the details. Analyzing the two paintings, co-curators Eliza Rathbone of the Phillips Collection and the Cleveland Museum of Art’s William Robinson, decided to build a whole show around these and many other van Gogh Repetitions (Yale Univ., $50). Van Gogh did multiple versions of certain landscapes and portraits (with a variety of approaches), and it’s fascinating to see them side by side. The exhibition also becomes a very personal story, as van Gogh’s works are based on paintings by artists he loved, such as Millet and Gaugin, and of sitters whom he trusted, like Dr. Gachet and the postman Joseph Roulin and his family. In addition to the curators’ essays and painting-by-painting entries, two conservators provide technical analyses. (The exhibit will be at the Phillips Collection through January 24, 2014, then heads to the Cleveland Museum of Art.)