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The Northern Hemisphere has once again thankfully undergone rebirth, becoming the season of spring and with it, all the hope it represents for the continuation of our natural and human worlds.
Detail: "Curtis High School Girl Gathering Dogwood Boughs": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1910-15: 19.7 x 13.1 | 30.5 x 23.3 cm: A genre landscape study celebrating both spring and womanhood, the model is perhaps a thespian known to have attended Curtis High School on Staten Island in New York City, where photographer C.R. Tucker taught Physics at the time. From: PhotoSeed Archive
Photographically, with the exceptions of those open-minded enough to embrace the obvious-something Alfred Stieglitz seized upon in 1893 when winter proved more than suitable for subject matter- the majority of amateurs a bit later at the turn of the 20th century seemed interested in dusting off their cameras only when those first buds and flowers of the season awoke once more.
This abbreviated compilation of images spanning the 1890’s through about 1940 from the PhotoSeed Archive-no matter how dated they may appear from the mores of days long gone by- is a reaffirmation dedicated to you that spring’s beauty and potential might give us all a bit of hope towards the future betterment of our often fragmented, present-day world. David Spencer- April, 2016
Detail: "Harbingers of Spring": Louise Birt Baynes: American: gelatin silver: 1904: 20.8 x 15.5 | 35.6 x 27.9 cm: This study of skunk cabbage growing in the spring time may have been taken using an artificial light source. Author Frank Roy Fraprie mentioned the work in his article on photographing wild flowers for the March, 1904 issue of Boston’s Photo-Era magazine: "The plant must be photographed in its surroundings, for it has no stem or leaves at this season, to make possible a graceful arrangement at home, even if one were inclined to extend it hospitality. Mrs. Baynes has conquered all these difficulties, and her picture, “Harbingers of Spring,” is interesting to both the naturalist and the artistic photographer, - to one for its fidelity and to the other for its good composition." From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Spring Vista with Fallen Leaves": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: carbon?: ca. 1905-10: 11.9 x 8.2 | 17.8 x 12.1 cm: What are believed to be Magnolia tree blossoms litter the ground in the foreground of this spring landscape study featuring a blooming Magnolia in the background, with the setting believed to be Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Cleaning up the Yard in Spring": c. 1900-05 by Jeanette Bernard: American, born Germany: (1855-1941) gelatin silver print c. 1935-40 from original glass plate negative acquired by Culver Service : 15.4 x 13.9 cm: alternate title: "Woman and Man Gardening"-George Eastman House NEG: 40724: 83:2640:0025: A spring cleaning study in a garden shows the photographer's daughter with pet terrier dog at her feet watching as a gentleman (perhaps a hired man) prepares to move a collection of dead branches using a wheelbarrow. From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Magnolia Trees Blooming in Spring": by Unknown Brooklyn (photographer) : American: gelatin silver (hand-colored) from copy print: ca. 1910-15: 9.0 x 11.6 | 12.4 x 16.4 cm: This hand-colored landscape study showing several blooming Magnolia trees is believed to have been taken at Brooklyn's Prospect Park as many known examples of this location were taken by this photographer. This photograph, with title supplied by this archive, is by an Unknown Brooklyn amateur photographer whose surviving work was discovered in a trunk in the American South. Background can be found by searching for this site's 2015 blog post: "No Junk in Trunk". From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Clare Shipman with Dogwood Blossoms": C.M. Shipman: American: platinum: 1904 or before: 17.5 x 11.8 cm | 27.9 x 36.0 cm tipped to black art-paper leaf from album: Born ca. 1880, Clare Cressey Shipman, spouse of amateur photographer Charles Melville Shipman, (1874-1947) examines a cluster of dogwood blossoms, most likely taken in the borough of Richmond on Staten Island, New York City, where the couple lived at the time. The photograph was included with other mostly naturalistic studies compiled in an album by the photographer with the final photograph signed and dated 1904. From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Spring Central Park": Hamilton Revelle, (1872-1958) English, born Gibraltar: bromoil (hand-colored) ca. 1930-40: 10.2 x 18.5 | 14.3 x 22.4 cm: This delicate hand-colored, blue hued study of a blooming tree in springtime in New York City's Central Park was probably done in the early 1930's along with another landscape study shown with this post. A British born stage and screen actor and consummate amateur photography on the side, he later specialized in the bromoil-transfer process after mastering other processes. The Broadway Photographs website includes a short bio: "Revelle's intense interest in photography perhaps derived from the art's capacity to arrest beauty in timeless perfection. He began carrying his camera equipment with him everywhere and spent his days, before going to the theater in early evening, perfecting his technical mastery of the medium, in platinum, silver, and autochrome. He was an avid experimenter with various printing papers and popularized the print of works on parchment. His portraits were displayed in international salons regularly during the first decade of the 20th century. The Royal Photographic Society of London awarded him its gold medal for excellence in portraiture." From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Apple Blossoms": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1905-10: 20.3 x 14.7 | 32.7 x 25.5 cm: A genre landscape study celebrating both spring and womanhood, (notice the sunbursts at the bottom of her dress) the model is perhaps a thespian who most likely attended Curtis High School on Staten Island in New York City, where photographer C.R. Tucker taught Physics at the time. From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Central Park Spring with Eldorado": Hamilton Revelle, (1872-1958) English, born Gibraltar: bromoil: ca. 1935-40: 11.5 x 18.5 | 17.6 x 27.8 cm: This bromoil landscape study taken in New York City's Central Park includes a few hints of the Manhattan skyline, including the luxury twin-spired Eldorado apartment building opened in 1931, seen just to the left of the blooming tree on the right side of frame. A British born stage and screen actor and consummate amateur photographer, Revelle later specialized in the bromoil-transfer process after mastering other photographic processes. From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Apple Blossoms": Emma Justine Farsworth, American: hand-pulled photogravure published in periodical "Sun & Shade" New York: June, 1893: whole #58: N.Y. Photogravure Co.: 17.0 x 21.7 cm | 27.5 x 34.7 cm: From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Mary Tucker with Apple Blossoms": Charles Rollins Tucker: American: platinum: ca. 1905-10: 26.1 x 19.2 | 30.0 x 22.0 cm: Mary (Carruthers) Tucker, (1870-1940) spouse of amateur photographer C.R. Tucker, holds a bough of blossoms from an apple tree while wearing a hat adorned with flowers in this classic genre study celebrating womanhood in early spring. From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "In Apple Blossom Time": Henry Troth: American: lithograph, four-color: ca. 1915: 24.7 x 20.3: paperboard mount remnants with following additional details: Negative by Henry Troth; Artist Proof Fac-Simile; Published by the Henry Heininger Co NY.: This landscape study of a gentleman holding a basket in a roadway by Henry Troth shows a large flowering apple tree in the foreground. The Heininger firm, founded in 1885, marketed art reproductions and published postcards in addition to larger works like this. Metropostcard.com states this firm's "Fac-Simile Hand painted Nature Views were of course not hand colored but reproduced hand colored work in four color lithography through the use of paper grains. These cards also have a false plate mark." Another reference included in the publishing trade journal Geyer's Stationer from 1915 when this work is believed to have been produced stated: "The Heininger Co. are famed as well for their extensive line of artist proof facsimile nature pictures so perfectly executed that they readily pass for the high-priced hand-colored photoprints that command such generous prices on the market. The popular prices at which these art subjects are offered should command the instant attention of buyers, who already know the good value of their Abelart line, a complete display of which will be on view." Another Troth spring landscape, "The Hill Road" also appeared in 1915 produced by this firm. From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Spring": George H. Seeley, American: hand-pulled Japan-paper tissue photogravure by the Manhattan Photogravure Co. included with Camera Work issue XXIX, January 1910: 19.7 x 15.8 | 29.7 x 20.6 cm | 30.0 x 21.0 cm- Enfield 1887 watermarked laid paper mount: A review in the February 25, 1910 issue of The British Journal of Photography discusses the ten photogravure plates by Seeley included with CW 29, and singles out this spring study with female model at the critique's conclusion: "Of the plates, the ten photogravures after photographs, by George H. Seeley, are remarkably rich examples of that idle sort of decorative toying with photography which “Camera Work" has always fostered. Mr. Seeley’s technical powers are very considerable. He is master enough to take great liberties with focussing, and does so with impunity; but the greatest enthusiast in art for art’s sake must admit that the subject-matter of Mr. Seeley's work is trivial and tiresome. "Girl with Bowl” is well designed and of exquisite quality. “Autumn" introduces a tambourine and bulrushes, with an inexplicable pose of the model. “The White Screen" shows the lady out of doors, dappled with the shadow from a tree. This is a charming study in tones. Next follow two subjects introducing an artist's palette—the first ridiculous and the next mystifying. Then comes a male nude of no attractions. “White Trees" and “Spring,” by their lightness and delicacy of tones, and the beauty of their suggestion, are, in our opinion, the best pictures of all. In the last two, the photographer’s title resources give out, and he contents himself with calling them No. 347 and No. 356. They do not suffer thereby. No. 356 is truly decorative, and shows us that Mr. Seeley has imbibed good ideas from the classics in painting."(p. 147: there is confusion as to the above numbers: a flysheet includes the pagination as plates VII (White Trees.) & VIII (Spring.): From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Backyard Apple Trees Blossoming": Leo Kraft, (1885-1927) American: gelatin silver print, ca. 1915-20: 19.0 24.3 | 21.0 26.1 | 33.0 x 39.3 cm. This photograph most likely picture's the backyard area of the photographer's Lakewood, Ohio home outside Cleveland showing a double-line of flowering apple or crabapple trees. The print is believed to be printed on Kodak's P. M. C. Bromide (double weight) paper like other known examples by Kraft in this archive.: From: PhotoSeed Archive
"A Stiff Pull": Peter Henry Emerson: British, born Cuba: hand-pulled photogravure by the photographer included in his limited, second-edition portfolio "Pictures of East Anglian Life": 1890: 20.7 x 28.8 | 34.1 x 42.6 cm: A farmer guides a plow behind a team of two horses as he tills the earth in the English spring countryside. England's Victoria & Albert Museum notes of this work included with this portfolio: "In 1889 Emerson published his controversial book 'Naturalistic Photography for Students of the Art' without images. 'Naturalistic Photography' examined his purist approach to photography, derived from his fascination with Naturalism in art, and attacked the prevailing artificial aesthetic in art photography. After its publication Emerson felt that his opponents had misunderstood his ideas. So, in 1890 he selected 10 plates from his book 'Pictures of East Anglian Life' (1888) that best illustrated his theories, and presented them loose in a portfolio dedicated to the ‘photographic student’, with the same title and cover of the book. He then donated copies of this portfolio to every photographic society in the country." Included in the work as plate III, "A Stiff Pull" is also reproduced as a line engraving on the oversized canvas board folio, but with the odd inclusion of the ocean with sailboats and gulls flying overhead on the horizon. From: PhotoSeed Archive
"Some fell upon Stony Places,…": Samuel Hudson Chapman, American (1857-1931): platinum print included in his self-published volume: "The Parable of the Sower, Illustrated From Life, With The Series of Pictures Awarded The Allison Silver Cup of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia For the Year 1900: S.H. & H. Chapman 1348 Pine Street, 1901: 18.8 x 13.9 corner-glued | 31.5 x 25.4 cm: A dealer in rare coins along with his brother Henry, Philadelphia resident Samuel Hudson Chapman was also an accomplished photographer and president of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia at the time he published this volume which included this photograph in 1901. Showing a farmhand sowing seeds in the springtime, most likely done in the Italian countryside, the following copy accompanies the work opposite, from the King James Version of the Bible's Book of Matthew: "Some fell upon Stony Places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth; and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away." From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Dalcroze-Schule-Four Dancers in Flight": Frederick Boissonnas, Swiss (1858-1946): hand-pulled photogravure by Munich's Verlagsanstalt F. Bruckmann A.-G. : 1913: 21.2 x 29.2 | 26.3 x 36.6 cm: Suggestive of an exuberant ritual acknowledging rebirth in spring, this photographic study of four female dancers can be dated to around 1913, based on other examples of performance photographs by Boissonnas taken in outdoor settings and held in the photographic collection of the Musée d’Orsay in Paris. These dancers were students attending a school teaching the "Dalcroze Method" of music pedagogy in Hellerau, Germany, now part of Dresden. The school was founded in 1910 by the Swiss composer, musician and music educator Émile Jaques-Dalcroze. (1865-1950) From: PhotoSeed Archive
Detail: "Sweet Springtime" : Ralph Winwood-Robinson, English (1862-1942): hand-pulled, Chine-collé edition photogravure from limited-edition portfolio "Amateur-Kunst: 37 Photogravuren Nach Naturaufnahmen" (Amateur Art: 37 photo Engravings after nature Photographs) published by Richard Paulussen at Vienna's Gesellschaft für Vervielfältigende Kunst: 1891: 20.6 x 26.8 | 35.6 x 48.2 cm: Titled "Sweet Springtime", this romantic landscape genre study showing a couple walking together (please see this website for uncropped version) down a road past a windmill was taken by the son of renowned English photographer Henry Peach Robinson. It was exhibited in Vienna during the groundbreaking 1891 "Internationale Ausstellung Künstlerischer Photographien" (International Exhibition of Art Photographers) organized by the Club of Amateur Photographers in Austria (Club der Amateur Photographen in Wien) the same year.: From: PhotoSeed Archive
Recognize the face? A teen model aiming her Kodak in a sheep field? If yes, please do tell. With her mystery my acknowledgment, I can say without hesitation it’s a snap getting sucked into the world of early Kodak advertising.
Detail: "Kodak Girl in Sheep Field" : vintage silver gelatin print: (8.7 x 11.6 cm) : ca: 1900-1920: by American (Philadelphia) photographer Edwin H. Fait: from: PhotoSeed Archive
As noted in this site’s previous post of their colorization of an early 1908 advertising contest winner by Marian Pearce of Waukegan, IL, Kodak’s marketing genius often took the form of “candid” views of models using cameras in the field: children taking pictures with a Brownie box variety, in the case of the Pearce winning photograph, or this silver gelatin print in the PhotoSeed Archive featuring a fashionably-dressed girl releasing the bulb shutter of what appears to be a model 3A Folding Pocket Kodak. (1.)
Similar to my discovery of the Pearce image used later in an advertisement, I’ve spent more than a few hours trying to decipher if this girl with chapeau was also published, but with no luck. Among multiple sources in the search process, I’ve come across a few notable online sites including the smile-inducing KodakGirl Collection (German publishing house Steidl releases this month their marvelous addition to Kodak scholarship: Kodak Girl: from the Martha Cooper Collection ) and revisited many pages from Duke University Libraries resource Emergence of Advertising in America currently showing 550 early Kodak advertisements.
Detail: verso: "Kodak Girl in Sheep Field": graphite in unknown hand: "By Edwin H. Fait" | "Phila" | "Well known": from: PhotoSeed Archive
But getting back to that face. I’ve tentatively dated this photograph from 1900-1920, and the commercial nature of the image suggests deliberate posing, with the model seen in profile holding her Kodak camera to nice effect. The carrying case is also stylishly displayed-consistent with vintage advertisements from this era- slung over her shoulder and resting on her hip. I may of course be wrong, but in addition to this young lady sharing a striking resemblance to very early known photos of her, (2.) and the intriguing abbreviated reference to the city of Philadelphia on the back of the photograph, Kodak Girl in Sheep Field may very well show American silent film actress and Philadelphia native Eleanor Boardman. (1898-1991)
The photographer, as I decipher on the back of the photo, was Edwin H. Fait. (see detail above) Boardman is acknowledged to have been one of the famous Kodak Girls, appearing in color on the cover of the 1921 Kodak catalogue, but perhaps not surprisingly when it comes to celebrity, research inconsistencies are rife. She is first believed to have begun modeling in 1913-1914, when she would have been 15 or 16 years of age-consistent with the dating for this photograph. A 1931 newspaper account stated:
About the time she finished art school, Miss Boardman began posing for commercial photographers. She became famous as the Kodak Girl and was the central figure in an advertising campaign which portrayed her snapping pictures in many localities. (3.)
Whatever her mysterious identity, this Kodak girl undoubtedly inspired others from the era to pick up a camera of their own.
Left: "Take a Kodak with you" : vintage advertisement from unknown 1912 issue of "Ladies Home Journal": | Right: vintage advertisement: "Kodak as you go" : from: unknown source here published in 1921 but also used as cover art same year for annual Kodak catalogue: both: online resource: Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920: Duke University David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library
1. The 3A Folding Pocket Kodak was first introduced in 1903. Another possibility is that she holds a model 1A Special Kodak, which first came out in 1912.
2. Due to copyright considerations, I’ve elected not to show these here, although early portraits of Eleanor Boardman can be found doing common search engine image searches.
3. “Eleanor Boardman was Kodak Girl”: from: The Lewiston (ME) Daily Sun: October 15, 1931