"Where I was born" : A Photograph, a Clue, and the Discovery of Abel Boulineau

Abel Boulineau


Every summer from 1897 to 1916, Abel Boulineau (1839 – 1934) traveled through the French countryside and photographed the people he met and the places he visited. Wherever he went, Boulineau was drawn to scenes of daily life: washerwomen and tradespeople at work, shopkeepers with clients and children at play, bustling markets and picturesque villages. His photographs seem to reveal a world untouched by industry and modernization–a common subject for artists of his day.

In his lifetime, Boulineau was known only as a painter and teacher at the Association polytechnique in Paris. But research into a large group of gelatin silver printing-out-paper prints in the AGO’s collection recently determined that these photographs were also, in fact, made by Boulineau, adding a new facet to his artistic career.

This exhibition features Boulineau the photographer for the first time. The more than 70 pastoral scenes from the regions of Brittany, Aquitaine and the Rhône-Alps–some of which Boulineau used as studies for his paintings–bring to light an unparalleled photographic diary of an artist’s travels and interests at the turn of the 20th-century.

We are deeply grateful for the late Mira Godard’s support of the Photography Collection at the AGO from 2007 to 2011.

Aeroplan is the Signature Partner of the Photography Collection Program at the Art Gallery of Ontario.