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A group of people dressed for summer, eating lunch on a riverbank with two rowing boats moored beside them. The details of this déjeuner are typically French and the scene itself appears to come directly from an Impressionist painting. By 1938, Henri Cartier-Bresson had been using a Leica for around six years, a 35-mm camera which he referred to as “the extension of my eye” because of its speed. He worked as a photojournalist until the early 1970s and founded the Magnum photographic agency in 1947. In 1952, in the book Images à la sauvette, from which this image is taken, Cartier-Bresson gave his famous definition of a good photograph: a picture in which a significant moment combines with balanced composition. This innocent pastoral scene conceals an important socialist milestone: it is in fact a picture from a report about the first paid vacation for French workers in 1938. The title was later altered, and so the historical significance was sidelined in favor of a representation of an archetypical French scene.
© Henri Cartier-Bresson, Magnum Photos, HH, 2010


Translated title

Sunday on the Banks of the Marne, France



Production date

1938 / latere druk


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16.7 x 24.9cm.


gelatin silver print

Object number

FA 1879

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