Exhibitions: A print of this work was included as one of the 100 Masterpieces of Photography, presented as an exhibition by the Bibliotheque Nationale de France from December 2012 - February 2013
Literature: The Photographic Album of the Year 1855, 1855, pl.43
Brettell, Paper and Light: The Calotype in France and Great Britain, 1839-1870, Art Institute of Chicago & Museum of Fine Arts Houston, 1984 pl. 133, p. 198
Mention of the works of J. J. Heilmann begins in 1853 in connection with his invention of an instrument to enlarge negatives. He was well known for albumen prints from glass negatives, and salt prints such as this image are extremely rare.
This image was taken in the Pyrenees near Pau where Heilmann was active in the mid-1850s.
This image is described in Richard Brettell's Paper and Light: the Calotype in France and Great Britain, 1839-1870:
Closer inspection [of the image] reveals that it is more ambitious in its treatment of a highly complex subject--carts, buildings, figures, mountains and trees all held in check by a strong geometric framework. Like other photographers in the Pau group, Heilmann was fascinated by the subject of civilized man in the context of a primitive world. What prevents the barnyard from seeming totally overpowered by its setting is that the looming roofs of the stable buildings are balanced by the great mountains behind them; in fact, the image so abounds with rhythmic masses and lines that it must have required considerable positioning of the camera, the cards, and the figures before the negative could be made.
A print of this image exists in the National Gallery of Canada at Ottawa.