Chim: David Seymour's Humanist Photography
National Gallery of Art, home page
Image: David Seymour (Chim), Romain Rolland, 1935-1936, printed before 1962 David Seymour (Chim)
Romain Rolland, 1935–1936
gelatin silver print, printed before 1962
National Gallery of Art, Gift of Ben Shneiderman
© David Seymour Estate/Magnum Photos

Paris

Romain Rolland

Like Barbusse, Romain Rolland was an acclaimed writer, pacifist, and antifascist. Winner of the 1915 Nobel Prize for literature and a regular correspondent with the likes of Mahatma Gandhi and Sigmund Freud, Rolland was a towering intellectual figure whom many saw as the symbolic grandfather of the Front Populaire.

Chim made this portrait of the distinguished writer, nearing age seventy, on the balcony of his childhood home in Burgundy. The unusual composition—closely cropped, off-center, and shot from above—suggests Rolland's intellectual restlessness, an effect echoed by the author's piercing eyes and serious mien.