The work is the earliest known photographic depiction of a veiled woman from the Islamic world
Louvre Abu Dhabi: Ayoucha promises to be a star attraction
A mercury vision captured on a copper plate, the iridescent figure of Ayoucha, the earliest known photographic depiction of a veiled woman from the Islamic world, flickers between being and nothingness, between a positive and a negative image, as light reflects off the silvered surface of Joseph-Philibert Girault de Prangey’s 174-year-old daguerreotype.
In a museum whose modern and contemporary galleries will exhibit important works by Manet and Monet, Gauguin and Picasso, Mondrian and Magritte, the tiny quarter plate portrait of the young Egyptian – no larger than a postcard – not only exerts a fascination all of its own but promises to be one of the new museum’s star exhibits.
“It is an image that will become one of the icons of 19th century photography,” Laurence des Cars, the former curatorial director of Agence France-Muséums and now director of the Musée d’Orsay told The National in 2013. “You are dealing with a very rare and fine example of a new technique in 19th century art.”