First Views of the Eiffel Tower

Chief Curator Eliza Rathbone describes Henri Rivière’s photographs and prints of the then-brand-new Eiffel Tower on the Snapshot exhibition audio tour. Rivière will be the subject of gallery talks at the museum at 6 and 7 pm tonight as part of Phillips after 5.

(left) Henri Rivière, Plate 36, The Painter in the Tower, from Thirty-Six Views of the Eiffel Tower, 1888–1902. Lithograph, 8 1/4 x 6 5/8 in. Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, Achenbach Foundation for Graphic Arts. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris. Photo: Réunion des Musées Nationaux / Art Resource, NY. (right) Henri Rivière, The Eiffel Tower: Painter on a knotted rope along a vertical girder, below an intersection of girders, 1889. Gelatin silver print, 4 3/4 x 3 1/2 in. Musée d’Orsay, Paris. Gift of Mme Bernard Granet and her children and Mlle Solange Granet, 1981. © 2012 Artists Rights Society (ARS), New York / ADAGP, Paris.

Just as the Eiffel Tower was being completed Henri Riviere and several friends were invited by Gutave Eiffel to climb inside it to the top and to experience its thrilling modernity and dizzying heights. That he recorded this experience in photographs was utterly unknown for many years. Continue reading