Mary Devens


Mary Devens’s moody view of Concarneau on the northwest coast of France was published in Camera Work number 7, 1904. Devens was known for her mastery of complex printing techniques. Alfred Stieglitz listed her as one of the ten most prominent Pictorialists in an article published in the Century Magazine. Devens also had connections with European Pictorialist groups.

The harbor at Concarneau features a walled medieval Ville Close. A ferry, probably seen here, connects the Ville Close to the town of Lanriec on the other side of the harbor. Mary Devens’s use of soft focus and careful composition give the photograph the characteristic painterly look of Pictorialism. She creates a timeless scene that is carefully organized. She uses the silhouetted figures in the lower right foreground with angled punting rods to frame the right edge of the scene and to lead the viewer’s eye towards the shadowy reflections of buildings in the water in the center, and further on to the buildings themselves on the shore in the background.