A Parisian Childhood by Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph Boy with Tongue Out Spearing Brass Ring is one of a series of pictures of Paris that the photographer took in 1963 while on assignment for LIFE magazine. The most famous of these images is the charming Children at a Puppet Show, featured in our exhibition, Masters of Photography 2017, but the present picture has gained almost equal renown for similarly capturing the charming innocence of childhood with expert timing and panache.

The series featured numerous pictures of Parisians at leisure along the Seine, in cafes, in the Tuileries Garden and at other celebrated locations in the French capital. The images are typical of Eisenstaedt’s optimistic, Humanist approach to photojournalism that won him more than 80 covers of LIFE magazine, where he worked as one of their principal photographers for more than 50 years.

Celebrated for his ability to capture the human story, Eisenstaedt used a small 35mm Leica instead of the larger and heavier Rolleiflexes often used by other photographers, making him less imposing to his subjects and able to gain a more intimate perspective. Boy with Tongue Out is one of many pictures that show the success of this approach.

The present example is a rare vintage print, made shortly after the photograph was taken, and features original ink stamps on the reverse that credit both the photographer and TIME Inc. Like many early prints that are associated with publishing it was likely made for distribution either internally or to another publication that had syndicated it. Few such prints remain. The majority of the collector’s market for Eisenstaedt’s work centres on the excellent later prints that he made for sale in conjunction with TIME in the 1980s, and so this print should be noted for its historic significance, as well as its remarkable condition.

 

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