Exhibition “COLLECTION: 150 photographs from the Bachelot collection”

From 7 October 2022 to 26 February 2023
Curator: Sam Stourdzé

This autumn, the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici is pleased to present its exhibition COLLECTION, which showcases Florence and Damien Bachelot’s photograph collection.

The exhibition will display a unique set of almost 150 photographs covering a century of image history, within the intimacy of the human condition. From Brassaï to Sabine Weiss and from Diane Arbus to Mitch Epstein, the itinerary provides an in-depth reading of the history of photography, focusing on human beings and their relationship to their environment; here the vibrancy of cities and the solitary poetry of portraits are juxtaposed.

The exhibition offers a dual perspective: the personal narrative of the collectors, Florence and Damien Bachelot, throughout 20 years of coherent acquisition, and that of its curator, Sam Stourdzé, through a selection of prints in which the photographer’s eye acts as a seismograph of historical events and intimate narratives.

The exhibition covers the two great transatlantic traditions: from early 20th-century “humanist” photography to American street photography. Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Doisneau and Willy Ronis join Dave Heath, Helen Levitt and Robert Frank.

An extraordinary set of almost 40 original prints by Saul Leiter’s bear witness to a change of direction – along with the transition to colour – towards the second half of the century, and a shift in photographic influences. The images focus on American counter-culture and the reversals of a modernist utopia.

Finally, the exhibition explores the beginnings of modern reporting, with Gilles Caron, up to the documentary portraits of contemporary photographers such as Luc Delahaye, Mohamed Bourouissa, Véronique Ellena and Laura Henno. The ancient cistern of Villa Medici will host a focus on the work of Laura Henno, between photographs and films.

Between contrasts and connections, the Bachelot collection exhibition at Villa Medici takes a look at the history of photographic influences and examines the way in which portraits and bodies frame the city and divide up urban areas and everyday spaces in which human figures always provide the scale. It is also a portrait of the development of a couple of collectors and of a vision that combine the vintage with the contemporary. 

The texts that provide the exhibition’s historical and aesthetic perspective were produced by the photography historian Michel Poivert.

Artists featured in the exhibition:

Diane Arbus, Édouard Boubat, Mohamed Bourouissa, Marcel Bovis, Brassaï, Gilles Caron, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Philippe Chancel, Stéphane Couturier, Bruce Davidson, Luc Delahaye, Robert Doisneau, Gilles Ehrmann, Véronique Ellena, Mitch Epstein, Louis Faurer, Andreas Feiniger, Robert Frank, Paul Fusco, Luigi Ghirri, Mario Giacomelli, Nan Goldin, Paul Graham, Harry Gruyaert, Dave Heath, Laura Henno, René Jacques, Ray K. Metzker, Nadav Kander, Chris Killip, François Kollar, Josef Koudelka, Dorothea Lange, Saul Leiter, Christian Lemaire, Leon Levinstein, Helen Levitt, Vivian Maier, Susan Meiselas, Joel Meyerowitz, Janine Niepce, Willy Ronis, Joy Judith Ross, Arthur S. Siegel, Eugene Smith, Mike Smith, Paul Strand, Sabine Weiss.


The Florence and Damien Bachelot collection contains almost 1,000 photographs and constitutes one of the most important privately-owned sets of prints in France. The collection’s guiding thread was the search for outstanding items, in terms of their quality or their history (rare and vintage prints, limited editions, etc.).
The set’s favourite themes cover “humanist”, documentary and social photography from the early 20th century up to contemporary times; it is particularly distinguished by its unique collection of around forty prints by Saul Leiter. For Florence and Damien Bachelot, collecting constitutes a commitment to the photographic medium in all its physicality and singularity, as well as a means of supporting contemporary – especially French – young photographers.

Begun in the early 2000s at the initiative of four associates – Damien Bachelot, Claude Garnier, Jean-Pascal Mahieu and Yves Hervieu-Causse – in the form of the Aforge group’s corporate collection, the photography collection became a family-only project when it was bought by Damien and Florence Bachelot in 2009. The collection was built and expanded with support from specialists who accompanied Florence and Damien Bachelot in the process, notably the exhibition’s curator Sam Stourdzé and the gallery owner Howard Greenberg. The works it contains are regularly on loan or display in dedicated exhibitions, and also featured in publications, notably those published by Maison CF (Clémentine de la Féronnière publications).
In 2023, as part of the internationally-renowned photography festival Rencontres de la photographie, the Réattu museum in Arles will host an exhibition devoted to portraits from the Bachelot collection.
Further information: collection-bachelot.com


Sam Stourdzé is an exhibition curator and a specialist in the contemporary image and the relationship between art, photography and film. A former Fellow of the French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici (2007, Film Department), he has been its Director since 2020. He was previously Director of the Musée de l’Élysée in Lausanne, Switzerland (2010 – 2014), and of the Rencontres d’Arles (2014 – 2020).

Download the press release


Opening time of the exhibition:
Monday to Sunday (closed on Tuesdays) between 10am and 7pm (last entry at 6.30pm) 

→ Info on tours and admission

The French Academy in Rome – Villa Medici thanks its sponsors and partners:

Main sponsor


Media partners

Cover image: © Saul Leiter Foundation, Courtesy of Howard Greenberg Gallery, New York.
Portrait of Florence and Damien Bachelot: © J. Faure
Portrait of Sam Stourdzé: © Daniele Molajoli