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History of Photography

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From the Trenches a Century On

For your consideration, we offer a happier vision of patriotic leanings supporting the home-front on this milestone day in history marking the end of  World War 1.

blog-kodak-in-camp-1917"Kodak in Camp": vintage framed bromide print ca. 1917 by unknown American photographer: Image Dimensions: 71.4 x 60.0 | cm 83.2 x 71.8 cm stained oak frame. This rare mammoth-sized Kodak advertising photograph featuring American “Doughboys” working together developing film in their tent at night was used by the Eastman company in their “Take a KODAK With You” advertising campaign. In late 1917, it appeared in publications including The Saturday Evening Post and The Independent (with which is incorporated Harpers Weekly) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

On the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month- November 11, 1918, the signing of the Armistice ending the Great War took place 60 kilometers north of Paris inside a railway carriage parked in the Forest of Compiègne. It has now been 100 years since that fateful day, on that fateful month and on that fateful hour. Sadly, mankind seems doomed to repeat his failures.

 

But a pivoting to Photography in relation to these weighty issues will always be of interest to the historian.

 

In 1914, the role of the medium expanded greatly at the outset of World War 1. In addition to photography’s new found power through smaller cameras to document unspeakable human suffering and death by the millions brought about by trench warfare, aerial reconnaissance photography gave countries the ability to monitor troop movements and to devise strategy in nearly real time. And then there was the home-front. The Eastman Kodak Company was certainly not going to let a war get in the way in order to call attention to their brand and sell more product.

 

Retooling like other large concerns in order to become an essential military contractor, they saw American Doughboys entering the war late in the conflict as brand ambassadors. As proof, the Kodak Vest Pocket camera, which debuted in 1912, found its’ way onto the front lines and trenches of many battlefields-legally or otherwise, and advertising posters hawking the camera as well as this oversized framed bromide print of soldiers for darkroom supplies and film called Kodak in Camp prominently appeared displayed in camera shops throughout the country.

 

And Kodak went further. As part of their national print advertising campaign dubbed “Take a KODAK with you”, this photo of nighttime developing in camp appeared full page in the pages of the Saturday Evening Post magazine for their August 4, 1917 issue as well as other publications around that time.

 

But most importantly, we honor the memory today of all the fallen. In a tribute to just one, a Scottish photographer by the name of Nichol Elliot, whose 1917 death in wartime Belgium is memorialized by a volume of his pictorial photographs accompanied by poems written by his wife Alice Elliot, we give her final stanza from An Idyll of Peace:

 

How swift from summer idylls came the wrench
Of life flung thence, by war and manhood’s will,
To battle roar and glare, or deathly chill
Of watch and warfare in the nightmare trench!
For peace divine man paid diviner price ⎯
In world-wide idyll of high sacrifice.


-Paired with Nichol Elliot photograph: In the Island, Toronto

 

For additional background on photography and the Great War, check out this New York Times Lens blog post from 2014.

Camera Work: Back in Print

 

Like the mythological bird the Phoenix, the groundbreaking photography and art journal Camera Work edited and published by Alfred Stieglitz of New York from 1903-17 is now available for purchase as a full run after long being out of print.

 

1-cw-formsRare Camera Work Ephemera: Left: This blank Camera Work subscription form for the year 1905 was mailed by publisher Alfred Stieglitz to  photographer C.M. Shipman in Brooklyn, New York. (145 Milton St.) recto: 15.9 x 9.9 cm | opened: 9.9 x 19.8 cm | printed on Japan paper. Upper Right: The original mailing envelope (8.7 x 10.8 cm) addressed to Shipman in Stieglitz’s hand is stamped with a New York postmark of December 22, 1904. Lower Right: Another similar envelope addressed to photographer Adolph Petzold in Philadelphia and postmarked New York, September, 1904 is engraved on the verso: Alfred Stieglitz- 1111 Madison Avenue - New York. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Remarkably and metaphorically, this bird, capably guided by St. Louis resident Pierre Vreyen, has risen again even though its first creator, while acknowledging the passion it took to create it was a most admirable thing, nonetheless went on to dispose of at least one known full run of Camera Work by setting it alight in 1929 at his Lake George estate. In 1933, writing in a two-page letter on July 10 from there to writer and critic Lewis Mumford, Stieglitz outlines the emotional capital he expended on his involvement with and creation of Camera Work:

 

“Four years ago the complete set of Camera Work I had had up here for years I offered to the Evening Star. It was a wonderful sight to watch the volumes burn. As you know books burn slowly…What a continuous heartache Camera Work represented & what blood was spilled over each issue fighting printers & fighting engravers—fighting paper dealers & paper manufacturers—fighting ink manufacturers & binders—fighting those who did the packing—fighting the post office—every step I controlled personally—as I sat there & realized what passion it all represented—I had to smile at myself.—Ye gods what won’t passion do.” (1.)

 

Originally from Liege, Belgium and trained as an electrician and draftsman but more recently plying his trade as a commercial photographer, Pierre explained to me his inspiration for bringing Camera Work back to life, so to speak:

 

“It all started when Mark (Katzman) said he would love to have a digital copy of Camera Work so he could open it anytime without the fear of over-manipulating his set of originals. I told him I would give him a hand doing it and it took 2 years to make.”

 

With the establishment of his website cameraworkmagazine.com, which includes short videos of him leafing through each newly published issue of Camera Work, one can order the full run of the journal in facsimile: the most complete and faithful copy of the original ever published. The cost is $1200, which includes a separate index issue, plus shipping.

 

2-1924-erhard-weyhe1924: Earliest known Camera Work Sales Catalogue after publication was stopped: This catalogue by the E. Weyhe Gallery of New York City at 794 Lexington Avenue reprinted press notices on Camera Work along with a synopsis of available issues and prices, including the final Paul Strand double issue 49-50 from 1917 for $17.50: An excerpt from the prospectus: "We Have recently obtained from the publisher a large stock of Camera Work, the remainder of this unique chance to obtain copies, both singly and in sets. Many of these numbers had already become scarce, and there never will be an opportunity to obtain so large a selection again." From: private collection via Ebay

 

Pierre says: “The aim of this project is to put (Camera Work) in the hands of schools, teachers, students, museums, libraries, collectors, appraisers, auction houses, individuals, etc… a high quality reproduction of the originals at a reasonable price.”

 

Intrigued, I asked him what some of the challenges were for pulling the project off, and I couldn’t help but think of parallels Stieglitz himself surely encountered, yet updated for the digital age:

 

“There were many challenges. At first was where to start? From what? Luckily I found the Modernist Journal Project online which has a digital copy of Camera Work. It is incomplete but we contacted them and they were kind enough to supply us with their raw files. I used their files for the text pages but not for the plates.

 The text pages needed a lot of work in Photoshop to clean, resize, straighten, etc… and then we had to photograph many of the plate pages Mark (Katzman) had no high res files in his archive. I also had to align the often found ghost image present on the facing page of the plates. Look at the video clips I have on the website and you’ll see what I mean. Especially visible in number 49-50.”

 

Continuing, and with the knowledge he has put up a significant amount of his own money to complete 25 full sets of Camera Work, Pierre spoke of finding someone to print the issues, something that happens less and less in this digital age:

 

“I had to find a printer. I first looked online but the choices are limited and it ends up getting expensive really quick when you want to use a print on demand service like blurb.com. So I looked locally.

 

3-bettina-goekelInternational Camera Work Scholarship: With "The Red Man", a head study reproduced as a photogravure plate in Camera Work I by Gertrude Käsebier from 1903 projected on the screen at left, Professor Dr. Bettina Gockel, principal investigator for the project Camera Work: Inside/Out at the University of Zurich from 2015-18 delivers her paper: "More Than Genius: The Invention of Photographic Genius and the Importance of the Journal Camera Work" during the symposium Rethinking "Pictorialism": American Art and Photography, 1895 to 1925 at Princeton University in October, 2017. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

I found a printer that was in St. Louis but after many, many weeks of proofs and tries, it did not work out. Back to square 1, I found another printer about 80 miles from St. Louis and this is the one I ended up using. All in all, it took me 6 months dealing with different printers to finally get what you saw in Rochester, the final product.”

 

As an added bonus, Pierre will also sell you a piece of history from the pages of Camera Work: approximately 180 individual advertising pages from the journal are listed on his site and can be ordered as 16 x 20” framable art prints for the bargain of $30 each.

 

Would the master Approve?


Not that my opinion matters, but here goes. It’s hard to guess if Alfred Stieglitz would have embraced the concept of digitization. My hunch says no, because I want to believe one of the most important legacies he left the world, Camera Work magazine, was something he would have been insistent be appreciated in its’ original form.

 

All well and good if you can get ahold of vintage copies, or have the tenacity and financial resources to acquire a full run of the 50 issues and supplements.  But to those of us in the 21st century, the importance of the groundbreaking nature of the journal as well as the superb photogravure plates contained within give many of us ample reason to collect at least a few of the plates.

 

4-literaturePublished Literature: Camera Work: A chronological timeline of significant works are seen left to right: 1973: "Camera Work: A Critical Anthology" by Jonathan Green. This was the first significant evaluation of Camera Work, with an emphasis on the articles and text rather than the reproductions; 1973: "Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly Edited and Published by Alfred Stieglitz, New York". Published by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, this volume accompanied the exhibition, “I Am an American,” that traveled to more than a dozen towns in Minnesota on the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Artmobile; 1978: "Camera Work: A Pictorial Guide" by Marianne Fulton Margolis was the first instance all 559 plates from Camera Work were published in a single-volume reference; 1997: "Camera Work- The Complete Illustrations 1903-1917". Published by Benedikt Taschen with an essay by Pam Roberts additionally translated into German and French, it featured all plates taken from a complete set of the journal owned by the Royal Photographic Society, Bath; 2003: "Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration": In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Camera Work, a traveling exhibition was organized by Stephen Perloff, editor of The Photo Review and The Photograph Collector. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Speaking personally, a delicate japan tissue gravure of a collaborative effort by Stieglitz and Clarence White from Camera Work was one of my very first photographic purchases as a collector. I convinced myself I would frame that photograph and hang it on the wall, but it slowly drifted to the bottom of an acid-free case as I rapidly descended into the madness of collecting vintage photographs, never to look back.

 

For the sake of historical context, a timeline of the most notable publishing efforts promoting Camera Work scholarship, although certainly not exhaustive given the hundreds, perhaps thousands of citations for the journal not listed here, are necessary for the record, and reveal ample support and evidence for Pierre Vreyen’s efforts at getting it back in print. I’ve also included a few links at the end of this post for some exciting recent scholarship and digitization efforts.

 

Camera Work: Key Dates & published Literature

1903-1917:

Issued quarterly in New York by Alfred Stieglitz, (1864-1946) the journal featured a cover design by a young Edward Steichen who created the Craftsman inspired typeface logo anchored by an outlined box: “A Photographic Quarterly* Edited And Published By * Alfred Stieglitz New York”. Steichen’s efforts included the overall design aesthetic for the interior pages, which even extended to the advertising pages published in the back of each issue. Through primary sources, Camera Work is known to have had a larger subscriber base when it was first introduced in the first decade of the 20th Century but waned considerably with the outset of World War I in Europe. In a three page letter written by Stieglitz to the writer and critic Lewis Mumford dated October 15, 1935, he states the size of the edition for individual issues while giving other valuable information on the albatross Camera Work had become to him, along with the solution:

 

“Camera Work has gone off to you in 4 packages by parcel post…As for the missing Plates they were not torn out of the books but were never put into those copies. You see many of the gravures were tipped in my hand (by me) after the numbers had been printed & bound. And I only completed the number of copies as were subscribed for. The edition was always 1000 copies except 49–50—that was 350. When I destroyed about 10000 copies of Camera Work—they were smothering me—I destroyed virtually all the Plates that had not been used. That’s why I can’t complete your incomplete copies.” (2.)

 

5-camera-work-1Vintage or Modern? Bottom Left: This mounted photogravure plate in Camera Work I from 1903 titled "A Study in Natural History" is by the American photographer A. Radclyffe Dugmore. This vintage example is opened to show it in relation to the opposing text page in an incomplete copy owned by the PhotoSeed Archive. Upper Right: The same page spread featuring the Dugmore plate in a new issue of Camera Work published as part of a set in May, 2018 and sold by Pierre Vreyen. Keen observers will notice the plates are flipped: this is because Alfred Stieglitz personally hand-tipped the gravure plates into each unique issue of Camera Work with the results sometimes being different in relation to placement on the plate pages. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

1924: After 1917, the first known marketing efforts for the journal appear by the E. Weyhe Gallery of New York City. They publish a small prospectus which served as a sales catalogue. This was included along with a full leather-bound run of Camera Work in 2012 by Sotheby’s. The auction house provided the following background on the Weyhe firm as part of the listing:

 

“New York art dealer and publisher Erhard Weyhe (1882-1972), whose gallery and bookshop on Lexington Avenue promoted not only prints and art books, but also photography.  Weyhe and Stieglitz were friends who frequented each other’s gallery and worked with some of the same artists.  Laid in the present set’s first volume is a prospectus issued by the Weyhe firm, announcing that ‘we have recently obtained from the publisher a large stock of Camera Work, the remainder of this unique publication, and we are now offering the public a chance to obtain copies, both singly and in sets.” (3.)

 

1969: The first attempt at a true duplication for the journal was undertaken by Kraus Reprint, (Nendeln/Liechtenstein) and is outlined by scholar Meredith A. Friedman for her 2009 master of arts thesis “Camera Work And The Alfred Stieglitz Collection At The Metropolitan Museum Of Art”:

 

“Camera Work was published in fifty volumes from 1903 to 1917. In 1969 Kraus Reprint reproduced all fifty issues of Camera Work in a six-volume set. The reprint is not a facsimile, but rather a duplication of the content (text and illustrations) of Camera Work page-by-page. The page size of the reprint editions is slightly smaller than the original issues. In an introductory note, the publishers explain that the reproduction was printed “as a service to scholars. It records the entire content of the original number, but does not attempt to reproduce its visual quality, nor the calibre of its plates.” (32) The Kraus Reprint edition of Camera Work seems to be the first time anyone acknowledged the value of Camera Work from a scholarly perspective.”  (Editors note: Hathi Trust Digital Library currently has around 40 of the Kraus issues which can be accessed here.)

(32.) Alfred Stieglitz, Camera Work (Nendeln, Liechtenstein: Kraus Reprint, 1969), edition notice.

 

 

6-ads-for-saleReady for Framing: In addition to the full run of Camera Work along with a separate index issue, Pierre Vreyen's website cameraworkmagazine.com features approximately 180 individual advertising pages from the journal that can be ordered as 16 x 20" framable art prints for $30 each. At top, a vintage advertisement from Camera Work XXXII featured an actual photogravure from Alvin Langdon Coburn's volume New York. At bottom, an ad shows a full-length caricature of Alfred Stieglitz by the artist Marius De Zayas featured in Camera Work XXX. Courtesy: Pierre Vreyen

 

1973: Friedman continues with the journal’s literature survey:

 

“Jonathan Green’s Camera Work: A Critical Anthology (1973) is the first significant evaluation of Camera Work, particularly focusing on the articles and text rather than the reproductions. It describes the evolution of the photographic medium through the writing in Camera Work from issue to issue over the fifteen years of its publication. The volume is thoroughly organized with six indexes: biographical information each of the artists, photographers, and writers who contributed to Camera Work and that are featured in his text; a chronological bibliography of works relating to Camera Work and the Photo-Secession; an index of names and subjects appearing in Camera Work; a chronological list of articles published in Camera Work; an index of artists and the issues in which their works appear; and a chronological index of the plates, listing the process by which they were reproduced in Camera Work.”


1973: Scholar Christian Peterson notes the following title which featured a facsimile of the Camera Work cover logo and publishing attribution for Stieglitz in his online sales catalogue for the journal:

 

Camera Work: A Photographic Quarterly Edited and Published by Alfred Stieglitz, New York, Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1973. Softcover, 11 x 8 ½ inches, 40 pages, 3 halftone illustrations. This uncommon publication accompanied the exhibition, “I Am an American,” that traveled to over a dozen Minnesota towns in 1973 on the Minneapolis Institute of Arts’ Artmobile. The show included photogravures from Camera Work, plus paintings, drawing, and watercolors by members of the Stieglitz circle. This item includes a facsimile cover of the magazine, brief text by curator Carroll T. Hartwell, and reprints of articles from Camera Work. Most importantly, it features images by James Craig Annan, Alvin Langdon Coburn, and Stieglitz, printed on translucent paper and tipped-in, in a modest effort to replicate the delicate nature of the original gravures. Fine condition. $25. (editor: note: the “gravures” are actually halftones)

 

1978: Friedman continues with her thesis survey:

 

“In 1978 Marianne Fulton Margolis published Camera Work: A Pictorial Guide, building upon the thorough indexing in Green’s publication, but instead focusing solely on the images in Camera Work. This was the first time all 559 images from Camera Work were published in a single-volume reference. The images leave much to be desired; all are printed the same size, four to a page, in black and white halftone. As a reference, though, the publication is invaluable. The main part of the book reproduces each image in Camera Work in their exact sequence as published. Like Green, Margolis lists the medium by which the image was reproduced in Camera Work, but she also provides the original medium of the work when known, and also indicates when the reproduction is known to have been created from the artist’s original negative. Further, Margolis provides the reproduction method for every illustration in each issue of Camera Work, whereas Green discussed the plates, and a number of graphics within the text (such as Steichen’s Photo-Secession poster in Camera Work Number 13) which Margolis has not included in her index. Much of this information comes directly from the text of Camera Work. Three additional indexes at the end of the book provide an alphabetical list of artists, titles and portrait sitters, each with corresponding number of the periodical.”


1985: Friedman survey continues:

 

“This same concern was raised again in 1985 in the exhibition Camera Work: Process and Image organized by the Minneapolis Institute of Arts and accompanied by a catalogue with an essay by Christian A. Peterson that chronicles the use of reproductions throughout the publication of Camera Work, and the response these images provoked in the photographers whose works were reproduced.”


1997: Camera Work- The Complete Illustrations 1903-1917 is published by Benedikt Taschen with an essay in English by Pam Roberts that was additionally translated into German and French for the volume. Along with a full index of all artists represented in the journal and selected texts printed in the rear of the volume, all of the plates are reproduced which were taken from a complete set of Camera Work owned by the Royal Photographic Society, Bath.  

Roberts notes in her essay: “Camera Work fulfilled many functions. On one level, it began as the last outpost of the confluence of Symbolist art, photography and literature, and ended as a messenger of Modernism. On another level, it was a non-concurrent exhibition catalogue for 291 and the publicity machine for the Photo-Secession.”

 

 

7-video-spreads-of-cwPierre wears a Blue Shirt: Each issue of the full run of the newly re-issued Camera Work magazine plus a new separate index issue published in May, 2018 is featured in short video clips from back to front by Pierre Vreyen at his website cameraworkmagazine.com. At top, "The Steerage" by Alfred Stieglitz in Camera Work XXXVI. Courtesy Pierre Vreyen

 

Friedman’s thesis also comments on the 15th anniversary edition of this work: “An alternate version of this book, Camera Work: The Complete Photographs, published in 2008 for the l5th  anniversary of Taschen, features reproductions of every photograph in Camera Work, but not every illustration as its predecessor does.”

 

2003: “Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration” is published. Friedman comments:

 

In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the publication of Camera Work, a traveling exhibition was organized by Stephen Perloff, editor of The Photo Review and The Photograph Collector. A double issue of The Photo Review was published as a catalogue and featured essays by Perloff along with Peter C. Bunnell, Lucy Bowdich, Barbara L. Michaels, and Luis Nadeau.” (33.)

 

33. Perloff, Stephen, ed. “Camera Work: A Centennial Celebration.” Exhibition catalogue. The Photo Review 26, no. 1-2, 2003.

 

 

Camera Work Resources & Scholarship on the Web



- Wikipedia: always a good resource if you are just getting your feet wet in first learning about Camera Work. Link

 

- Modernist Journal Project: originally founded at Brown University in 1995 to create an online periodicals database, the entire run of Camera Work, using vintage copies from Princeton University, has been digitized in the last five years and posted online. Brown teamed with The University of Tulsa for the effort, which lacks only six photographic plates-Gertrude Käsebier’s “Portrait (Miss N)” and “Red Man” (CW 1: 11, 13), A. Radclyffe Dugmore’s “Study in Natural History” (CW 1: 55), Eduard Steichen’s “Solitude” and “Poster Lady” (CW 14s: 33, 35), and Steichen’s “The Photographer’s Best Model: G. Bernard Shaw” (CW 42-43: 39). Link

 

- Photogravure.com: Site owner and collector Mark Katzman has made all of the gorgeous photogravure plates (as well as most of the halftone plates) throughout the entire run of Camera Work accessible from his personal collection in the newly relaunched version of his site. Link

 

- Heidelberg University Library in conjunction with The University of Zurich launches their digitization efforts to the web in March, 2018: “all fifty regular and three special issues of Camera Work are digitized to the highest standards”.  Link

 

- Camera Work: Inside/Out: Under the guidance of Professor Dr. Bettina Gockel, the principal investigator for the project, the University of Zurich from 2015-18 launches this research project in conjunction with the Institute of Art History at the university.  Link

 

- Video: Camera Work – Institute of Art History University of Zurich:  With a running length of about 5.5 minutes, this video produced as part of “Camera Work: Inside/Out” is a  wonderful tribute to the enduring legacy and importance of the journal, and a fitting end to our post. Link

 

 

 

8-cw-stacksEditor, Publisher & Shipper: As seen here, St. Louis, MO resident Pierre Vreyen told PhotoSeed: "I picked up 25 sets of Camera Work from the printer yesterday. 1275 books!!! That’s a lot of books spread around my house. I am currently stacking them all in sets…" Well done, Pierre and good luck on your new endeavor I say! Courtesy Pierre Vreyen

 

Notes:

1. Letter excerpt: in auction listing by RR Auction, Amherst, NH April, 2018-lot passed- #0537. Additionally, the first two sentences of this letter cited in footnote #15 by Lori Cole for her essay “Camera Work: Forming Avant-Garde New York” published in the 2013 volume The Aesthetics of Matter: Modernism, the Avant-Garde and Material Exchange with cited source being the Alfred Stieglitz/Georgia O’Keeffe Archive at Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book Library. (p. 186) (Note: the 2008 volume edited by Robert Wojtowicz titled ‪Mumford on Modern Art in the 1930s‬ states carbon copies of letters, believed to include this one sent by Stieglitz to Mumford, are contained within the Alfred Stieglitz correspondence files at the Beinecke.) The actual bonfire set by Stieglitz is corroborated somewhat in a description by Sue Davidson Lowe, the grandniece of Stieglitz, who writes in her volume: Stieglitz-A Memoir/Biography (1983) that in 1929, when Stieglitz was at Lake George and experiencing an emotional helplessness because he had not heard from Georgia O’Keeffe for several weeks, took to the cathartic act of burning: “an accumulation of papers-books and pamphlets, magazines (including many issues of Camera Work), negatives, and prints.” p. 294
2. ALS signed “Stieglitz,” three pages on two sheets, October 15, 1935, in part. (Stieglitz to Lewis Mumford) From auction listing: RR Auction, Amherst, NH April, 2018-lot passed- #0537.
3. ‘CAMERA WORK: A PHOTOGRAPHIC QUARTERLY’ Alfred Stieglitz, Editor: Sotheby’s: 03 OCTOBER 2012: Lot 55

 

 

Kodak City: the Sequel

 

Speaking of photography in general, of which this website is particularly enamored of, our recent visit to Rochester, New York and attendance in the three-day conference “PhotoHistory/PhotoFuture” sponsored and organized by RIT Press and The Wallace Center at the Rochester Institute of Technology gave new meaning to their claims for the medium: “there has never been more of it than there is today.” That might be stating the obvious, especially in 2018, but the new meaning part was my own takeaway and inspiration.

 

1-eastman-museumBy George, Still Relevant: During a reception at the George Eastman Museum for conference attendees, a young George Eastman,(1854-1932) who founded the Eastman Kodak Company, looms larger than life in a photograph taken in 1890 by Nadar. Entrepreneur and Philanthropist are emphasized on the wall label, and with good reason. From the museum's website:"The George Eastman Museum is located in Rochester, New York, on the estate of George Eastman, the pioneer of popular photography and motion picture film. Founded in 1947 as an independent nonprofit institution, it is the world’s oldest photography museum and one of the oldest film archives. The museum holds unparalleled collections—encompassing several million objects—in the fields of photography, cinema, and photographic and cinematographic technology, and photographically illustrated books. The institution is also a longtime leader in film preservation and photographic conservation." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

In present day Kodak city, the power of ideas relating to what made this place significant as an imaging industrial behemoth still exists, but has now gone in a new direction. With all due apologies, but the pun indeed appropriate, a snapshot of those ideas put forth by the conference attendees and speakers shows their passion for the medium’s minutiae both preserves and continues this essential democratic language. Those of memories past surely, but more and more the future in the form of ones and zeroes hurtling forward.

 

Although the “Big Yellow” of Rochester’s past is long gone, the ideas nourishing photography’s entire corpus continues apace, an alternate reality both present and future. For those curious enough, the RIT conference program along with a list of presenters can be found here, along with a few photos from the weekend courtesy of yours truly.  David Spencer- 

 

 

2-mary-panzer-street-shootersDocumentary photography practiced as commerce on busy streets around the world, a genre roughly known as "Movie Snaps" because of the retrofitted movie cameras used in their making, was part of a fascinating presentation under the working title “Street Vendor Portraits Around the World: Czernowitz, Capetown, San Francisco, More!” given by independent scholar Mary Panzar of Rochester. Here, the hybrid look of Winogrand meeting Arbus becomes a document in a projected frame of a woman sporting fur and white gloves at left while a gentleman unaware at right emerges to flash and instant celebrity from a movie theatre on a nighttime street. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-tryptchTriptych in the Dark: Left: During his presentation “Did Talbot Make Daguerreotypes?”, the eminence of English photography pioneer William Henry Fox Talbot (1800-1877) is shown here by an image most in attendance had seen, yet Grant Romer- formerly of the Eastman House but now Founding Director of the Academy of Archaic Imaging, challenged us with another view: a decidedly unflattering profile of the paper/negative pioneer he rightly remarked might have made for a different public perception for the emerging medium had it been the lone evidence of his existence. Middle: a quote of photographic philosophy by American writer Susan Sontag (1933-2004) struck this observer as particularly relevant in the present day- University of Illinois Springfield professors Kathy Petitte Novak and Brytton Bjorngaard used it as supporting evidence while speaking on “The Blurring Distinctions of Taking versus Making Photographs: Teaching Photography in a Digital Culture”. Right: the appropriated late Victorian era reality of the dark underbelly of a small Wisconsin town through the lens of Black River Falls photographer Charles Van Schaik repurposed by author Michael Lesy in his 1973 cult classic "Wisconsin Death Trip" was supporting material for Nicolette Bromberg of the University of Washington, who argued photographic archivists need to understand context in her paper “Loss of Vision: How Art Historians and Critics Misjudge Early 20th Century Photography and How Early Photographers Along with Art Museums and Archives Help to Obscure the Photographic Record”. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-ipiPhotographic Preservation: With a mission statement stating they are the "world leader in the development and deployment of sustainable practices for the preservation of images and cultural heritage", conference attendees toured the Image Permanence Institute, (www.imagepermanenceinstitute.org) which opened in 1985 as an academic research laboratory within the College of Imaging Arts and Sciences at RIT. For many visitors, IPI is known for their Graphics Atlas, (www.graphicsatlas.org) an online resource that helps identify photographic and other process print types. In front of a table with various displayed print types including a row of portraits toned with Polysulfide & Selenium Toner, Institute senior research scientist Douglas Nishimura at left chats with a visitor. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-luminous-printConference participants attended the exhibition "The Luminous Print: An Appreciation of Photogravure" organized by David Pankow, Curator Emeritus for the Cary Graphic Arts Collection at RIT now running through June 15, 2018. With beginnings in intaglio printing by artists working in the late 15th Century, photogravure's historical timeline which evolved by the 19th Century as a medium for "images from real life" is showcased by superb examples featuring plates from bound volumes, portfolios and individual works. The pleasure in real life can be seconded by this attendee, with the following observation from the catalogue true to form: "enjoy this exhibition for the beauty of its images alone and discover why it has been said that a photogravure print is endowed with a luminosity unequalled by any other process."David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-jon-goodmanRoyal Visit: As an added bonus, conference attendees viewing "The Luminous Print" could rub shoulders with Massachusetts resident Jon Goodman, a master craftsman who has worked full time since 1976 as a photogravure printer specializing in the Talbot Klic photogravure technique . Beginning in 1980 through the Photogravure Workshop, a division of the Aperture Publishing Foundation and their namesake Aperture magazine and the Paul Strand Foundation, Jon has produced sumptuous, superb, and collectable portfolios of the early work of Paul Strand, Edward Steichen, and British photography. His mission continues today in his Florence, MA atelier along with a new interest: carbon printing. Displayed are six of Jon's gravure plates featuring the pictorial work of Edward Steichen from the 1981 Aperture portfolio: "Edward Steichen; The Early Years, 1900-1927". Top to bottom left to right: "Heavy Roses", "Moonrise, Mamaroneck, New York", "In Memoriam, New York", "Steichen and Wife Clara on their Honeymoon, Lake George, New York", "Three Pears and an Apple, France", "The Flatiron". Visit jgoodgravure.com and gravureportfolios.com for more information. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-rit-pressHistory of Printing: A series of oil paintings by three artists originally commissioned in 1966 by the Kimberly-Clark Corporation commemorating "Graphic Communications through the Ages" hangs within the offices of the RIT Press ( www.rit.edu/press/ ) and the adjoining Cary Graphic Arts Collection at The Wallace Center. This painting shows a detail of the work "George P. Gordon and the Platen Press" done by American illustrator Robert A. Thom, (1915-1979) with a detail at right by Thom: "Ira Rubel and the Offset Press". David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-goudy-press-at-ritMaking an Impression: Taking center stage for visitors is the famed Kelmscott/Goudy iron hand-press featured among other working presses in the Arthur M. Lowenthal Memorial Pressroom within the Cary Graphics Arts Collection at RIT. Visitors learned it was first owned by the English printer William Morris and then Frederic Goudy, two giants of the letterpress printing art. The press was built in London in 1891 by Hopkinson & Cope- an Improved Albion model (No. 6551). Now featuring around 40,000 fine and rare volumes on graphic communication history and practices, The Cary Collection is considered one of the premier libraries on the subject in the United States. ( library.rit.edu/cary ) David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

9-robert-capaAlternate History: The coverage by war photographer Robert Capa (1913-1954) for Life Magazine of American troops landing on Omaha Beach on D-Day during World War II was deconstructed after seven decades of public myth to facts by Staten Island, NY independent critic and historian A. D. Coleman. The first photo critic for the New York Times in 1967 and prolific author of books on photography as well as thousands of articles on the medium, Coleman presented his research during the conference titled “Deconstructing Robert Capa’s D-Day: The Unmaking of a Myth” that recently took place over three years helped by the efforts of war photographer J. Ross Baughman, Rob McElroy and Charles Herrick. As a former photojournalist myself for over three decades, I found his presentation convincing and enlightening: I still remember drying strips of film as a young photographer in large upright darkroom cabinets-the focus of some of the research when it was claimed a Life lab tech had melted Capa's film on deadline- the worst I remember was curled film! Please visit capaddayproject.com to learn more. Malcolm Gladwell, (revisionisthistory.com) are you interested? David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

10-digital-elephant-in-roomDigital Elephant in Room: Visitors to George Eastman's stately 50-room Colonial revival mansion adjoining the Eastman Museum will always remember the conservatory, where a fiberglass replica mount of an African bull elephant hangs- a conquest by the company founder during a 1928 Sudanese safari. Conveniently- and speaking of elephants in the room, I earlier had thoroughly enjoyed listening and pondering conference presenter Stephen Fletcher's talk: “The Photographic Archivist is Dead, Long Live the Photographic Archivist!”, his call to action for the task of photo archivists in the 21st Century: what do we do and how do we preserve a portion for posterity and history the digital evidence of billions and billions of photographs taken-seemingly, every day? A photographic archivist in the North Carolina collection at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Fletcher's call to arms would surely have inspired Eastman himself, a hands-on guy who is reported to have overseen every aspect of the construction of his mansion and made sure it contained all the cutting-edge technology of its' day: from the Eastman Museum website: "Beneath this exterior were modern conveniences such as an electrical generator, an internal telephone system with 21 stations, a built-in vacuum cleaning system, a central clock network, an elevator, and a great pipe organ, which made the home itself an instrument, a center of the city’s rich musical life from 1905 until Eastman’s death in 1932. Eastman was involved in every aspect of the construction, paying close attention to detail and requiring the use of high-quality materials." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

11-smoking-did-not-kill-eastmanSmoking also Works: Perhaps the most startling object on display in the mansion-at least to those who do not know the intimate details of George Eastman's life- is a facsimile of his 1932 suicide note: "To my friends - My work is done - why wait? GE." Suppressed initially by the Eastman Kodak Company for decades, this news is sobering but important. Eastman had been crippled by a degenerative spinal disease and unable to walk, he shot himself through the heart in his upstairs bedroom. A music lover even after the end, a 1990 New York Times story on the renovation of the mansion noted he "requested a rousing ''Marche Romaine'' by Charles Gounod be played at his funeral". David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

12-old-camerasFancy Box with Hole in It: Collectors and the curious had the opportunity to peruse the physical evidence of the history of photography during the concluding event of the conference, an antiquarian photography show and sale featuring 80 tables of wares including these vintage wooden box and Kodak cameras. Earlier, the RIT Press and Syracuse University Press showed off their latest offerings, including some wonderful photography volumes during the event. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

13-david-morrisLearned from Jon Goodman: During the antiquarian photography show and sale, Ontario-based visual artist David Morrish, co-author along with Marlene MacCallum of the 2003 volume "Copper Plate Photogravure: Demystifying the Process", shows off a page spread of original photogravures from his 2004 Deadcat Press imprint "Gaze" he was selling along with other work during the antiquarian photography show and sale. Earlier in the conference, Morrish and visual artist MacCallum, former professor in the Visual Arts Program at Memorial University of Newfoundland, presented on "Photogravure: Then and Now" highlighting the gravure process while showing how the medium’s ongoing relevance to contemporary art practice has influenced their own work in the production of print suites and artists’ books. Learn more at marlenemaccallum.com and davidmorrish.com. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

14-mark-katzmanFuture with a Past: St. Louis resident and commercial photographer Mark Katzman, the key force in proselytizing for the medium and beauty of hand-pulled photogravure worldwide through his website Photogravure.com, speaks with conference speaker Jeff Rosen during the antiquarian photography show and sale. Curious to learn what a real photogravure is, unlike the many who simply use the term-wrongly-to sell you something not what they claim? Head over to his newly redesigned site, where the mission statement is: "Peeling back a layer of the history of photography, this site examines the role that photogravure has played in shaping our shared visual experience. Through exploring thousands of examples, we learn about the relentless and ambitious 19th century pursuit to reproduce photographs in ink and discover the exquisite, sublime process that resulted. It is our hope that this site firmly establishes photogravure as not only one of the most under-recognized photographic processes, but also an important and beautiful art." David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

15-eastman-museumKeeper of Memories: Located at 900 East Ave. in Rochester, New York, the George Eastman Museum, along with a section of his original mansion and gardens on 8.5 acres constructed beginning in 1902, is a grand American repository for the study of photography past, present and future. Besides a growing archive of over 400,000 photographic objects spanning the history of the medium, the museum also features 16,000 + examples of photographic and cinematographic technology- the world's largest. For those interested in the printed legacy, the accessible Richard and Ronay Menschel Library is also onsite, with a special collections and archive division housing "manuscripts, papers, and ephemera, including those of Alvin Langdon Coburn, Lewis W. Hine, Southworth and Hawes, and Edward Steichen, among other photographers, collectors, and inventors." Curious? eastman.org. David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Now Playing: White's World

 

The following are a few snaps from my recent attendance at the symposium: Rethinking “Pictorialism” held in conjunction with the exhibition now playing at the Princeton University Art Museum in New Jersey: Clarence H. White and His World: The Art & Craft of Photography, 1895-1925. On exhibit at Princeton through January 7, 2018, the show will then travel to the Davis Museum at Wellesley College (MA) from 02-07-18 to 06-03-18; The Portland Museum of Art in Maine from 06-30-18 to 09-16-18 and the Cleveland Museum of Art in OH from 10-21-18 to 01-21-19.


 

1-entry-wall-yv8A visitor enters the exhibit "Clarence H. White and His World: The Art & Craft of Photography, 1895-1925" at the Princeton University Art Museum during the October, 2017 weekend in which a symposium devoted to Rethinking "Pictorialism" in context with White's work and those of his contemporaries was discussed. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

2-young-clarence-whiteTwo men from two very distinct photographic worlds: Seen at center ca. 1900 at around 25 years of age, Clarence H. White, with hair slightly unkempt as befitting one whose energies were certainly taxed for familial obligations combined with lofty personal ambitions related to the nascent field of art photography, (and the necessity of keeping his day job) was compared with a mentor at left: Alfred Stieglitz, during a symposium paper. Sarah Greenough, far right, senior curator and head of the department of photographs at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C., compared both as part of her keynote address: Alfred Stieglitz, 291, and the Nursery of Genius: 100 Years Later. The symposium- Rethinking "Pictorialism" American Art and Photography, 1895 to 1925, was held at Princeton University on October 20-21, 2017 in conjunction with the in-progress exhibition on Clarence White at the University art museum. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

3-vintage-wallA wall grouping of original Clarence H. White photographs in their original wood frames are on display as part of the exhibit: "Clarence H. White and His World: The Art & Craft of Photography, 1895-1925" now at the Princeton University Museum of Art through early 2018. An excerpt of the wall label: "These photographs are among the few pictorialist works from the late 1890s that survive in their original exhibition frames. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-caricature-of-whiteA caricature drawing of Clarence White done in 1910 by Mexican artist Marius De Zayas (1880-1961) is included in the exhibit on loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art. Accompanied by a vintage portrait of the artist by White at far right, an excerpt from the wall caption reveals: "…de Zayas places White's hangdog face and porkpie hat beneath the gold moon that symbolized the Photo-Secession. Unlike de Zayas's more blended, charcoal portraits that Stieglitz exhibited in January 1909, the flat wash areas and sinuous ink contours of this design seem intended for photomechanical reproduction." Note: caricature drawings by the artist appeared in the journal Camera Work XXIX in 1910 and CW XLVI in 1914. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

5-white-stieglitz-wallVisitors take in a select grouping of vintage photographs taken in 1907 by Clarence H. White and Alfred Stieglitz in White's New York City studio that are part of the exhibit "Clarence H. White and His World: The art & Craft of Photography, 1895-1925" now at the Princeton University Museum of Art. An excerpt from the wall label: "In 1907 White and Stieglitz collaborated on a series of photographs of two models who posed in varying degrees of undress in White's studio. The ostensible goal was to test lenses and plates and to demonstrate the potential of "straight photography" to yield artistic portraits and figures. The real inspiration was the availability of a California beauty queen, Mabel Cramer, who arrived in New York in the spring looking for jobs." Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

6-display-caseIn one exhibit gallery, a display case seen at bottom contains examples of Clarence White's published work. In the early 20th Century, his interest in commercial illustration lent itself to the publication of several articles as well as volumes featuring staged genre photographs, including a photogravure-illustrated edition of the best-selling Irving Bacheller novel Eben Holden published by the Lothrop in 1903 and Songs of All Seasons in 1904. The latter volume, lent by this website for the exhibit and written by White's uncle Ira Billman contained the following label excerpt: "White provided a bust portrait of Billman as a frontispiece but recycled many older exhibition prints that had only minimal links to the lyrical content of poems celebrating nature, God, and "Plain living and high thinking," as one was titled." On another label, for a bound collection of work prints for Eben Holden and the article "Beneath the Wrinkle", we learn White recruited a bearded gent named John Miles Jones at a Newark, Oh market who served as the "heroic protagonist of Bacheller's Eben Holden". (seen at far left at frame bottom) Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

7-dow-as-teacherPerhaps Clarence White's greatest legacy was his teaching career. On the exhibit wall at center, a portrait of the American painter Arthur Wesley Dow taken by White around 1908 is shown with an original painting by Dow at far left showing the influence of Japanese design. White’s transition from Newark to New York City in 1906 began a new chapter of teaching by the photographer, who soon made the acquaintance of artist and arts educator Arthur Wesley Dow, (1857-1922) who hired White as an instructor at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1907. White would go on to found his own groundbreaking schools of artistic photography utilizing a modern pedagogy learned from Dow among others: first in Maine beginning in 1910 and then in New York City in 1914. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

8-stieglitz-letterIn the final gallery exhibition display case, an original letter to Clarence White's widow Jane White by Alfred Stieglitz is displayed, with this modern-day reader struck by the author's self importance revealed in the letter's conclusion at an inopportune time: writing from Lake George, New York, the elder statesman of American pictorial photography pens a belated note of condolence dated September 25, 1923: "My dear Mrs. White: I have refrained from writing to you before this. Life has taught me that words mean little in days like ours. But I want you to know that it did shock me to hear of Clarence's sudden death-so far away from home. He died in harness. A man can wish no more. Naturally my thoughts of him go back to the "early" days- when I think he was happier- He followed his lights-as I suppose we all do for we seem to have no choice. - I look at Camera Work & am glad it exists. - Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

9-rose-stokesThe exhibit features marvelous images by Clarence White held in the Clarence H. White Collection at the Princeton University Art Museum, like this stunning full-length portrait titled The Sea taken of socialist, feminist and activist Rose Pastor Stokes in 1909 and printed after 1917 as a Palladium print. A committed socialist himself, White photographed Stokes during a visit to her and husband Graham Phelps Stokes (portrait of him at far right of frame by White) summer home on Caritas Island, CT. A label excerpt: "Struck by Rose's fiery spirit, White conceived this romantic, windswept profile as best embodying her fierce independence and powerful moral convictions." Note: this portrait used as the cover illustration for the exhibit's accompanying monograph volume. Photo by David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive.

 

 

 

A Reevaluation: Clarence H. White

1-clarence-white-signature"Clarence H. White Autograph": Black ink, 1916. By his own hand, White autographed a manilla card-stock mount (36.2 x 28.6 cm) featuring a portrait photograph of himself taken by student Ruth Anthony Davis during the Seventh Summer Session of the School of Photography at Stevens Farm in East Canaan, CT that year. Please see portrait below. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

When I remarried a dozen years ago, an obscure bit of farce entered the equation leading up to the “I do” moment. The fateful convolution? My beloved hailed from Newark, OH: the same Midwestern US city where pioneering art photographer Clarence Hudson White (1871-1925) had spent his formative years before leaving permanently along with his family to New York City in 1906.

 

2-clarence-white-portrait-Detail: "Portrait of Clarence H. White": Ruth Anthony Davis, American (1880-1979): 1916: vintage platinum print: 24.2 x 19.3 cm | 29.0 x 21.5 cm Japan paper | 36.2 x 28.6 cm manilla card-stock: Davis, an early member of the Providence Camera Club, photographed her instructor Clarence Hudson White while she attended the Seventh Summer Session of the School of Photography at Stevens Farm in East Canaan, CT. A description of the school's location with emphasis on potential photographic subjects for students appeared in the March, 1916 issue of the International Studio: "The seventh summer session of the Clarence H. White School of Photography will be held at East Canaan, Connecticut, instead of Sequinland, Maine, as heretofore, during July and August. East Canaan is situated in a beautiful valley in the Berkshire Hills of Northern Connecticut, at an elevation of eight hundred feet above the sea level, and is surrounded by hills rising another eight hundred feet above the floor of the valley. The country furnishes abundance of photographic material, comprising, within easy walking distance, farms, rolling uplands, streams, rugged mountains and architecture of typically New England character, many of the buildings dating from Colonial times. Numerous industries, such as iron furnaces, lime kilns, and the like, afford abundant opportunity for pictorial work. The neighbourhood is by no means thickly settled, and those persons who enjoy the seclusion of country life will find it here. Not least among the attractions of this portion of Connecticut are the delightful climate and the practical freedom from mosquitoes." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

But this aside is merely an excuse for the real purpose of this post: today is the official public opening of an exciting and ground breaking new exhibit on Clarence White at the Princeton University Art Museum in Princeton, New Jersey. ‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬ will be on display there from October 7, 2017 to January 7, 2018. But don’t despair if you can’t make it right away, because the show travels to an additional three US museums through early 2019. Venue details along with additional links including one for the first comprehensive monograph on White published in conjunction with the show and authored by Anne McCauley, David Hunter McAlpin Professor of the History of Photography and Modern Art at Princeton University, concludes this post.

 

3-clarence-h-white-and-hiDetail: "‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬": composite gatefold brochure for exhibit at Princeton University Art Museum which runs from October 7, 2017-January 7, 2018. Photographic illustrations by White left and middle: The Sea (Rose Pastor Stokes, Caritas Island, Connecticut) (detail), 1909, printed after 1917. Palladium print. Princeton University Art Museum, Clarence H. White Collection; middle: In the Orchard, Newark, Ohio (detail), 1902, printed after 1917. Palladium print. The Museum of Modern Art. Gift of Jane Felix White, 1941. Courtesy: Princeton University Art Museum

 

Several years before, I had taken a deep-dive into the remarkable life of White, whose arc resonated with me on many levels, especially his love for breaking the rules as applied to photographic lighting. To wit: what do you mean I can’t photograph my subject backlit? A simple optical concept today perhaps but in the late 1890’s? Revolutionary. I kid you not.

 

4-edge-of-the-woods-eveninDetail: "At the Edge of the Woods ⎯ Evening": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): Chine-collé photogravure from Camera Notes, Vol. IV, April 1901: 14.4 x 10.1 cm | 28.6 x 19.6 cm uncut: The photographer’s sister-in-law, Letitia Felix is shown at twilight in a wooded setting. Alternately titled as In the Woods; Evening, the photograph was first exhibited in the Third Philadelphia Photographic Salon the same year. (cat.# 202) Later that year, it was exhibited as part of the Newark Camera Club’s exhibition in the town’s Association Building from November 28-December 1, 1900 where it was titled as Edge of the Woods ⎯Evening.  The catalogue issued for the exhibit reproduced the photo as the frontis gravure for the publication. From: PhotoSeed Archi

 

In groundbreaking photographs by White such as his brooding landscape figure study At the Edge of the Woods ⎯Evening (1900), a remarkable twilight composition showing his sister-in-law Letitia Felix emerging from a thicket with just a hint of light on the horizon became just one example of his early output. White’s decidedly masterful reinterpretation of the possibilities of light and the photographic medium done with artistic intent was quickly getting accolades in the press, and his work was soon honored in salons the world over beginning at the end of the 19th century.

 

5-experiment-28-1907"Experiment 28": Alfred Stieglitz 1864-1946 & Clarence White 1871-1925, Americans: vintage japanese tissue photogravure published in Camera Work XXVII: 1909: 20.6 x 15.9 | 30.2 x 21.1 cm: In 1907, the year after Clarence White arrived in New York City, he collaborated with Photo-Secession founder Alfred Stieglitz on a series of portraits featuring two models. Shown here holding a glass globe, California model Mabel Cramer poses in a portrait later reproduced as a plate in Camera Work. Said to be a friend of the German American photographer Arnold Genthe and possessing a face worthy of Cleopatra, Cramer and a woman known only as a Miss Thompson, posed for a series of photographs intended to promote photography as an equivalent medium to painting. It was the only time Stieglitz would ever work in tandem with another photographer and shows the extent to which the photographers were allied aesthetically and technically. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Not bad for a man with limited means and a high school education. Employed as a bookkeeper in 1890’s Newark nearly seven days a week for the same wholesale grocery firm his father worked at, (the family had moved there in 1887 from nearby West Carlisle, OH), White first took up amateur photography a year after his 1893 marriage to Jane Felix, with the young photographer diligently saving weekly spare change from his salary for camera and darkroom supplies. Reportedly, his reality of only being able to afford the exposure of several glass plates a week necessitated lots of planning in order to make successful photographs. With outdoor locations previously scouted throughout Licking County and interiors often taken in the darkened homes of family and friends, these same subjects were further cajoled into wearing fashions from the American Civil-War era or earlier in order to evoke feelings of times gone by for the compositions.

 

6-arthur-wesley-dow-1908Detail: "Portrait of Arthur Wesley Dow": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): vintage waxed platinum print, unmounted: 22.1 x 16.6 cm. From the Princeton University Museum website: "White was hired by Arthur Wesley Dow at Teachers College in 1907 and shared Dow’s philosophy that students of the fine and the applied arts should have the same fundamental training based on design principles (anticipating the approach of the Bauhaus in the 1920s)." from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

A founding member of the American Photo-Secession movement begun in 1902 by Alfred Stieglitz, White’s transition from Newark to New York City in 1906 began a new chapter of teaching by the photographer, who soon made the acquaintance of artist and arts educator Arthur Wesley Dow, (1857-1922) who hired White as an instructor at Columbia University’s Teachers College in 1907. White would go on to found his own groundbreaking schools of artistic photography utilizing a modern pedagogy learned from Dow among others: first in Maine beginning in 1910 and then in New York City in 1914. Besides emphasizing pictorial photographic technique as well as numerous technical processes as part of the school curriculum, modern composition as espoused by Dow was taught along with art history through lecture format in classes by artists including early American cubist painter Max Weber (1881-1961) and later by artists including Charles James Martin (1886-1955) in the early 1920’s.

 

7-charles-james-martin-etc"Interior Composition with Figurines": Charles James Martin, American (1886-1955): vintage etching on plate paper ca. 1915-20: 15.1 x 20.1 | 18.8 x 24.8 cm (trimmed): Martin studied with Arthur Wesley Dow, and later taught alongside him at Columbia University Teachers College. At TC, he also studied photography with Clarence H. White, and became an instructor at White’s School of Photography in 1918. Martin began teaching at the Art Students League of New York in 1921. The following background on Martin and his involvement with the White school appeared in the February, 1921 issue of "The Touchstone and the American Art Student Magazine": "The Clarence H. White School of Photography announces a course of instruction in Print Making by Prof. Charles J. Martin of the Department of Fine Arts, Columbia University. The purpose of the course is to develop an appreciation of prints through a study of fine examples and particularly through practice in etching plates, cutting blocks and printing. There will be also an opportunity to do photo-engraving such as the line cut and photogravure. The course will consist of twenty sessions. The earlier sessions are now under way, and the response to this announcement gives evidence that the student of the Photographic Arts is endeavoring to gain practical knowledge as well as artistic reproduction." p. 406: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

At 54, Clarence White died of a heart attack while accompanying photo students during a summer session of his school in Mexico City in 1925. Besides his important contributions as a ground-breaking photographic artist in the late 19th and early 20th century, his legacy as a teacher is perhaps more important as we finally begin to reevaluate his importance in the larger history of early artistic photography. The Princeton exhibition and accompanying monograph-the first truly comprehensive volume on White ever published, will further our understanding and appreciation for this gentleman.

 

PhotoSeed is honored to have played a small role in the exhibition showcasing Clarence White’s talents at photographic book illustration. A slim volume loaned for the show, Songs of All Seasons, published in 1904 with prose by his uncle Ira Billman and photographs by White, will be included in an exhibit display case.  An additional rare illustrated copy of Irving Bacheller’s best-selling novel Eben Holden from 1903, with photogravure plates by White, will also appear after it was acquired by Princeton from this archive. This site further intends to publish additional posts over the next several years chronicling White’s groundbreaking schools of photography as well as other aspects of his early and later life in Newark, OH and New York.

 

8-landscape-woman-with-gloDetail: "Morning": Clarence H. White, American (1871-1925): 1905: vintage photogravure published in the volume "The Artistic Side of Photography" by A.J. Anderson: London, Stanley Paul & Co., 1910. 11.9 x 9.3 | 22.5 x 15.1 cm. The plate, titled "A Landscape", from a platinotype in the collection of A.L. Coburn, appears on p. 155. This moody landscape photograph with figure was taken by White on the bluffs in Newark, Ohio overlooking the Licking River, a location that appears in several of the photographer's compositions. From the Metropolitan Museum of Art Website, which holds an original platinum print dated to 1905 bequeathed by Alfred Stieglitz: "Morning perfectly embodies the tenets of Pictorialism: expressive, rather than narrative or documentary, content; craftsmanship in the execution of the print; and a carefully constructed composition allied to Impressionist and American Tonalist painting and to popular Japanese prints. His photographs from the period before he moved to New York in 1906 signaled a remove from the modern urban world. Neither genre scene nor narrative tableau, this photograph is a retreat into domesticized nature." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: ‪Clarence H. White and His World‬: ‪The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925‬


Princeton University Art Museum  
       (10/07/17–01/07/18)

Further link to the exhibit at Princeton

Video:  Breaking down photographic processes used by Pictorialist photographers: a collaboration between the Princeton University Art Museum and the Yale Institute for the Preservation of Cultural Heritage.


 

 

Davis Museum, Wellesley College                   
(02/13/18–06/10/18)
Portland Museum of Art, Maine
                      (06/22/18–09/16/18)
Cleveland Museum of Art
                                    (10/21/18–01/21/19)

 

 

Book link:
October 31, 2017
    408 pages, 10 x 11 1/2
346 color + b/w illus.
   ISBN: 9780300229080  
Hardcover
Distributed for the Princeton University Art Museum

 

 

 

 

 

Freedom of Jones

 

That experiment of American Democracy, culminating in our annual celebration today of the Fourth of July holiday, has survived 241 times since that fateful Philadelphia signing, in 1776, of a remarkable document giving notice to the larger world our Declaration of Independence and legal right to self-rule, with benefits.

 

asbury-park-boardwalk-sceneDetail: "Asbury Park Boardwalk": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: A woman who may have become the photographer's second wife, Edith, sits with a white hat on her lap on a bench at center in this bustling summer boardwalk scene taken at the Fourth Ave. entrance. The 18-hole Asbury Park Obstacle Golf course can be seen directly behind the bench at center and at left. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

 

Freedom of expression, and with it speech as it relates to the right of picking up a camera and chronicling daily life in one own’s creative bent without fear or favor are American freedoms held dearly by this website. I long hope our presently divided country can see the worth and value of all her citizens understanding each other and getting along for the betterment of the whole.

 

 

2-military-paradeDetail: "Fifth Avenue Military Parade": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Possibly taken before World War II, a little girl at far right holds an American flag as US infantry troops march up Fifth Ave. in New York City. The location of the photograph is W. 27th Street. The former La Primadora Havana Cigar shop can be seen at center at 234 Fifth Ave. and a Horn & Hardart automat is in the lower floor retail area next door at 236 Fifth Ave. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Not Lost Forever: the work of Laural J. Jones


With the blessing of a good friend who owns this documentary work in the form of developed 35mm black & white film negatives, and dating more than 20 years past the offerings of the more typical pictorialist body of work featured on PhotoSeed, I’m taking advantage of America’s national holiday to introduce to the world a gentleman who knew a thing or two about self-expressionistic ideals enshrined in our Constitution, the work of American amateur photographer Laural J.(ohn) Jones. (1897-1980)

 

3-rms-queen-elizabethDetail: "RMS Queen Elizabeth in New York Harbor": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1940-1945 black and white film negative: Although it is unknown when this photograph was taken, onlookers witness the famed 85,000 ton RMS Queen Elizabeth ocean liner in this photo. She initially docked on March 7, 1940 at Pier 90 in quarantine anchorage off Staten Island following a secret voyage to the US from Greenock, Scotland in order to evade German bombers. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Reminiscent in some ways to the much larger body of unknown photographs done by Chicago nanny Vivian Maier (1926-2009) after her life’s work was rescued from a storage locker in 2007, Jones work by contrast and fate was preserved in only two shoe boxes. Residing for more than five years in a Florida antique store before being discovered and saved, spooled negatives by Laural Jones along with an assortment of very small printed photographs are believed to have been placed there from an estate sale originating from the photographer’s second wife Edith, who had lived with Laural in the community of Harbour Oaks, south of Daytona Beach.  

 

 

4-laural-j-jones-triptch"Self-Portraits of Laural J. Jones: 1897-1980": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scans taken from ca. 1938-1953: black and white film negatives: The photographer is seen here in a series of self portraits with the center view taken at his office in New York City, where he was employed as the secretary of purchasing for Bell Bakeries, Inc. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Since all that remains are negatives, and with sparse details of his life slowly emerging from US Census and other web resources and records only recently, the Michigan-born Jones is known to have owned the then-new Leica camera sometime around 1938, around the time he is believed to have commenced his early interest in photography. In one surviving photograph stamped 1942 that is an obvious self-portrait, the photographer is nattily dressed and smoking a pipe while he inspects a copy of Popular Photography magazine.

 

 

5-times-square-new-years-eDetail: "1938: Times Square at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scans taken from ca. 1938 black and white film negative: In this view showing Times Square at night in New York City taken between Christmas and New Year's Eve 1938, a large banner for the year 1939 hangs above the entrance to the Hotel Astor at far left which exclaims those to Celebrate New year's Eve in their Grand Ball Room and Grill. A large lighted Christmas tree is in center background while at far right, the Loew's Criterion marquee advertises in glowing lights the American movie western "Ride a Crooked Mile" starring Akim Tamiroff and Frances Farmer. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Earlier, on Thanksgiving day in 1918, he was first married to the former Ruby A. Armour, (1899-1977) and is listed in a newspaper wedding announcement from the time as being the assistant manager of the Grand Leader Department Store in Battle Creek, with Ruby working there as a clerk. The year of the marriage, the future photographer is described as tall and slender with blue eyes on his World War I draft card, although it appears he was never called up. The couple lived with Laural’s father Mayver Jones, a carpenter for the Advance-Rumely Co., and mother Cora at their home at 129 Somerset Ave. in Battle Creek.

 

An interesting newspaper account from 1933 showed Laural shared a passion for carpentry like his father, and was also skilled in design. That year he spent several months constructing and designing a custom travel trailer coach in his father’s Someset Ave. carpentry shop meant to “conform with the new stream-line automobiles”. It was: “20 feet in length, maroon color with aluminum top. The interior is divided into two compartments, and is finished throughout in paneled veneer, walnut finish. The forward compartment is furnished with built-in library table, Pullman couch upholstered in brown Spanish leather with chairs to match, and folding typewriter desk, and radio, with an oval rug as floor covering.” The couple also seemed to have the luxery of time and money: they hit the road late that Fall pulling the new coach in route to St. Petersburg, FL, where they spent the Winter.

 

In 1935, according to his 1980 obituary, Laural moved to New York City from Michigan in order to serve as secretary in charge of purchasing for Bell Bakeries Inc., a large commercial concern with factories throughout the eastern seaboard and beyond. But it’s not clear if Laural’s wife Ruby accompanied him on the new adventure. That’s because 11 years later, the Battle Creek Enquirer newspaper for June 4, 1946 lists the couple receiving a divorce before Battle Creek circuit court Judge Blaine W. Hatch the day before.

 

 

6-chock-full-o-nuts-at-nigDetail: "Chock Full o' Nuts at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: This nighttime view believed to have been taken in Brooklyn Heights shows the popular post-Depression coffee shop with the large China Palace restaurant behind it. The coffee brand still marketed today featured shops selling a cup of coffee and sandwich for only a nickel. (at the time, there were 18 shops around New York) A police officer looks on at foreground left while a gentleman wearing his hat can be seen seated along a row of stools through the open doorway of the establishment at center. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

7-union-strike-rally-at-niDetail: "Union Rally at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Holding flares and American flags, a nighttime rally of custodians employed by New York City custodians, members of School & Library Employees Local Union 74, takes place at an unknown New York City location. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

8-luna-park-coney-islandDetail: "Entrance to Luna Park, Coney Island at Night": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative: Luna Park was an amusement park in Coney Island, Brooklyn, in New York City that first opened in 1903 and was destroyed by fire in 1944. It finally closed in 1946 after a second fire. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

Taking advantage of city life, while using the Leica 35mm rangefinder to record night scenes a speciality, Laural Jones documented a fascinating and important record of Manhattan and the outer boroughs from the late 1930’s and into the 1940’s, with some of the larger events unfolding before his camera spanning the later years of the American Depression and leading through to the re-ordering of a new world order brought on by World War II. Sadly, the story of preservation as it relates to someones creative and personal artistic endeavors is one consistent with people’s indifference to memories and Photography’s evolving history. But survivors like Laural Jones do show up, thankfully, and in these nine digital offerings, I think you will find plenty to be fascinated with and hopefully inspired by.

 

David Spencer-

 

 

9-kissingDetail: "Picnic Kiss": Laural J. Jones, American: 2004 digital scan taken from ca. 1938-1945 black and white film negative. Laying on a blanket shirtless, and with a picnic hamper and two glasses balancing on top at left, the photographer Laural Jones kisses a woman that may be his future spouse Edith at an unknown location. This woman appears in many surviving negatives taken by the photographer, including one of her on the Asbury Park boardwalk at the top of this post. Courtesy: Private Florida Collection

 

 

 

Making a Pitch

 

Like hot dogs, apple pie and a certain car company, the time-honored pastime of American baseball is once again upon us this spring in big league parks and dusty diamonds scattered throughout the land.

 

ted-kennedy-curveball-and-aDetail: Top: "Ted Kennedy Throws a Curveball": ca. 1905: vintage cyanotype, unmounted: 17.6 x 12.5 cm: American Major League Baseball Pitcher Ted Kennedy, 1865-1907, demonstrates following through while throwing an overhand curve ball. Shown wearing his St. Louis Browns baseball uniform, Kennedy excelled in the American spirit of being an entrepreneur, inventor and promoter long after his playing days, and was the first ever hitting coach in the Majors. Bottom: Detail: verso autograph from "Ted Kennedy" cyanotype in graphite believed to be genuine: app: 1.0 x 8.5 cm. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Seen here making his pitch is Ted Kennedy, (1865-1907) one of the game’s early promoters whose playing days lasted a mere two years from 1885-86, pitching for teams including the Chicago White Stockings, Philadelphia Athletics and Louisville Colonels.   Play Ball!

 

 

 

Old Nasty Women

 

The historical photographic record doesn’t flinch when it comes to the importance of women, and I present herewith a short gallery as evidence, many of these photographs taken by women themselves. Mother Earth was surely proud of those millions who turned out in rallies all over the United States and across the World in support of the fairer sex on Saturday. And in Washington, D.C., it was a pointed, diverse, and joyous message presenting the true story of America heard loud and clear countering the utterances of the keynote speaker the day before.

 

1-mexcan-family-living-near-sweetwater-texasA Message to Washington: "Sweet-faced Little Mother" : Detail: Anonymous American Photographer: 1911: Cyanotype postcard mailed to Washington D.C. from Sweetwater Texas showing a proud Mexican family in front of their Texas & Pacific Railroad section house. 7.4 x 9.9 cm | 8.7 x 13.9 cm: Besides being built with the hard labor of Mexican and other nationalities in the later 19th Century, continued maintenance of American railroads like the "T & P" in places like Texas in the early 20th was often performed by them, with the rail line providing section houses along the track for temporary quarters to live in. Writing to a Mrs. Burnside on the card's verso, the following appears in neat script: "This man came up and asked me to come and take a picture of his baby, "just borned"-When I got there, the whole family wanted to be taken-so here they are the sweet-faced little mother and the baby, not quite 2 weeks old. They are such a happy-hearted class of people." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

2-song-of-the-meadow-lark-"The Song of the Meadow Lark": Mathilde Weil: American: (1872-1942) ca. 1900: Platinum print mounted on board signed in red with Weil cipher at lower right: 18.4 x 16.0 cm | 19.1 x 16.5 cm: black-painted wood frame: 28.4 x 25.7 cm: In December, 1899, critic Francis J. Ziegler, writing in Brush and Pencil for a review of the Philadelphia Photographic Salon, said of this photograph: "Among Philadelphia's artist photographers one of the most prominent is Miss Mathilde Weil, and her contributions to this exhibition are full of artistic excellence. Her "Song of the Meadow-Lark" has a suggestion of the Orient about it, notwithstanding the fact that the landscape is an American field and the two girls who have stopped in their reaping have American faces. This effect, I think, is due to the long braids of hair which hang down the front of one damsel's bodice, and the white jacket worn by her companion, the trimming of which repeats the same lines in artistic harmony." (p. 113) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-doris-ulmann-woman-with-plow-from-roll-jordan-roll-1933"Woman Behind Plow": Doris Ulmann, American: (1882-1934): 1933: hand-pulled photogravure: Plate 39 from the deluxe volume Roll Jordan Roll: New York: Robert O. Ballou: (text by Julia Peterkin) 21.2 x 16.3 | 28.4 x 20.5 cm: A landmark photographic volume of the 20th Century featuring ethnographic studies and portraits, this volume features 90 full-page copperplate gravures done in the Pictorial manner. Writing for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas, author Steve Watson describes the volume in part: "The book focuses on the lives of former slaves and their descendants on a plantation in the Gullah coastal region of South Carolina. Peterkin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), was born in South Carolina and raised by a black nursemaid who taught her the Gullah dialect. She married the heir to Lang Syne, a 2,000-acre cotton plantation, which became the setting for Roll, Jordan, Roll. Ulmann began photographing there in 1929." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-blind-by-paul-strand-cam"Photograph-New York": Paul Strand, American: (1890-1976): 1917: hand-pulled photogravure from Camera Work XLIX/L: 22.4 x 16.6 | 29.7 x 20.6 cm: This iconic portrait of a blind woman, who has been issued a peddler's license by the city seen above her sign, was taken by Strand with the aid of either a false or prism lens as part of a series of ground-breaking modernist photographs done on the streets of New York City in the Fall of 1916. Writing the same year this portrait appeared in Camera Work, in August, 1917, an essay on Photography for the journal The Seven Arts concludes with the following observations by Strand-observations that could also certainly apply to the joyful diversity of human beings themselves, as in this case- womankind herself: "The existence of a medium, after all, is its absolute justification, if as so many seem to think, it needs one, and all comparison of potentialities is useless and irrelevant. Whether a water-color is inferior to an oil, or whether a drawing, an etching, or a photograph is not as important as either, is inconsequent. To have to despise something else is a sign of impotence. Let us rather accept joyously and with gratitude everything through which the spirit of man seeks to an ever fuller and more intense self-realization." (pp. 525-26) From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-juliana-royster-woman-reDetail: "Untitled Study of Woman Reading to Children: Juliana Royster, American: ( 1876-1962) ca. 1905-10: Gelatino-Choloride (POP) print: 11.8 x 10.0 cm: An artist who excelled in multiple mediums, Juliana Royster, from Raleigh, North Carolina, learned photography while attending Saint Mary’s School there, and is best known in the modern era for her founding in 1917, along with husband Jacques (born James) Busbee, (1870-1947) the Jugtown Pottery in Seagrove, North Carolina. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-doris-ulmann-woman-looking-out-window-from-roll-jordan-roll-1933Detail: "Woman with Scrub brush Looking out Window": Doris Ulmann, American: (1882-1934): 1933: hand-pulled photogravure: Plate 66 from the deluxe volume Roll Jordan Roll: New York: Robert O. Ballou: (text by Julia Peterkin) 21.0 x 16.3 | 28.4 x 20.5 cm: A landmark photographic volume of the 20th Century featuring ethnographic studies and portraits, this volume features 90 full-page copperplate gravures done in the Pictorial manner. Writing for the Amon Carter Museum of American Art in Texas, author Steve Watson describes the volume in part: "The book focuses on the lives of former slaves and their descendants on a plantation in the Gullah coastal region of South Carolina. Peterkin, who won the Pulitzer Prize for her novel Scarlet Sister Mary (Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1928), was born in South Carolina and raised by a black nursemaid who taught her the Gullah dialect. She married the heir to Lang Syne, a 2,000-acre cotton plantation, which became the setting for Roll, Jordan, Roll. Ulmann began photographing there in 1929." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-moments-leisure-ben-boyd"A Moments Leisure": Ben J. Boyd: American, ( 1881-1958): ca. 1915-20: Gelatin Silver print, mounted: 24.0 x 14.4 | 26.3 x 15.4 | 34.2 x 26.6 cm: Silhouetted in a doorway, a woman takes a break from hanging laundry seen at center in this unusual home-life study depicting the everyday struggle of women done here by long-time Wilkes-Barre, PA resident and Camera Club member Benjamin Joslin Boyd. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-negative-gelatin-silver-"Female Head Study": unknown, probably American photographer: ca. 1900-20: Reverse negative, Gelatin-silver over Cyanotype photograph, unmounted: 8.7 x 6.2 cm: Whether intentional or not, and for the purposes of this post, this alternative, multi-process study of a young woman is symbolic for a joyous, multi-ethnic celebration of women's diversity everywhere. From: PhotoSeed Archive

New Year Liftoff

 

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people.”

– John Adams

 

1-1906-balloon-liftoff-fro"First Balloon Flight Under the American Aero Club": 1906: James H. Hare: British: 1856-1946: Chloride print (POP) 17.05 x 12.05 | 17.6 x 12.8 cm: With a crowd looking on including officers, cadets and scientists, French aeronaut Charles Levee is seen ascending in the balloon "L'Allouette" from the siege battery at West Point Military Academy in New York State on Sunday, 11th February, 1906. This is the original photograph taken by pioneering British photojournalist Jimmy Hare of the ascent, which was published for his employer Collier's Magazine on 24th February of that year. The fledgling American Aero Club, based in New York City, hired Charles Levee to pilot their 28' diameter yellow balloon, which took 12,500 cubic feet of coal gas to inflate according to a New York Times dispatch. "Wearing an ordinary Winter overcoat and a close-fitting cap" Levee ascended at 3:55 p.m. in the basket of the balloon made of cotton-fabric (the first time a balloon launched from West Point) and traveled nearly 60 kilometers before finally descending at Hurley, New York at 8:10 p.m. with the aid of a rip cord. from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

Lately, I’ve become worried about that general knowledge thing. But this is not a lecture, and a new year is upon us, so bear with me here. Late this summer, I came full-circle back to my native New England after retiring from a 30-year run wearing the hat of photojournalist for newspapers across the country. Photographing and sharing the stories of people from literally all walks of life has been my best teacher and given me the most valuable education and perspective I could ever hope for in my career: the nuance of which I often find lacking in the public discourse of late rising from these so-called divided States of America.

 

2-minute-man-by-daniel-chester-frenchThe Minute Man Statue: ca. 1900: by unknown photographer working for Detroit Photographic Company: Photochrom: from album (29.0 x 40.0 cm) of 48 Photochroms depicting mostly New England historical places and views prepared by the Detroit Photographic Co. for use as a catalog in their offices. Statue in bronze by American sculptor Daniel Chester French (1850-1931) dedicated on the centenary of the Battle of Concord on 19th April, 1875: During the first battle of the American Revolutionary War, which took place here at The Old North Bridge on the 19th of April, 1775 in the town of Concord, MA, (then located in the British Crown colony of the Province of Massachusetts Bay) a group of 37 Acton, MA Minutemen led by Captain Isaac Davis (b. 1745) faced off (with other militia companies made up of about 500 men) against 100 British "Regular" troops. Davis was the first casualty at the bridge during the American War of independence, with Acton Minuteman Abner Hosmer, (1754-1775) a private who played his drum into battle as company musician, the second mortally wounded after being shot through the head. (Acton Minuteman James Hayward also died later that day) On the base of this statue are inscribed the first stanza of American poet Ralph Waldo Emersons Concord Hymn from 1836:"By the rude bridge that arched the flood, Their flag to Aprils breeze unfurled, Here once the embattled farmers stood And fired the shot heard round the world." Said to be modeled after Captain Davis but also known to have been done from live models posing in the studio of sculptor Daniel Chester French, the Minute Man statue proudly shows the enduring American spirit during the nations struggle for freedom and independence. from: Library of Congress: Call Number LOT 12003, p. 30.

 

3-old-manse-by-aw-hosmeDetail: "Old Manse, No. 3" from: Views in Concord, Mass.: ca. 1885: Alfred Winslow Hosmer, American (1851-1903) Pasted Albumen print on oversized cabinet card with gilt edging: 11.2 x 19.8 | 18.1 x 21.4 cm: Approximately 110 years later, another Hosmer descendent to Private Abner Hosmer, the photographer Alfred Hosmer, photographed scenes in and around Concord like this one for sale as souvenir keepsake cabinet cards of battleground scenes and places, including the Minute Man statue. This view, showing the stately pile The Old Manse, was built in 1770 for the Rev. William Emerson, (1743-1776) whose family witnessed the battle at the Old North Bridge of 19th April 1775 from the upstairs windows of the home. Later, Emerson's grandson, the acclaimed Transcendentalist writer Ralph Waldo Emerson (1803-1882) lived in the home and later wrote his Concord Hymn of 1836 as referenced previously in this post. The photographer Alfred Hosmer, whose surviving archive of over 800 glass plate negatives is housed at the Concord (MA) Free Library, is also significant, according to the library, for "his role in establishing Henry David Thoreau’s reputation as a major American author. He was one of the earliest admirers and promoters of Thoreau’s life and writings. He expressed his sympathy with and interest in Thoreau through his own first-hand observations of the flora and fauna of Concord, his Thoreau-related photography, his correspondence with other Thoreau enthusiasts, and his active collecting of Thoreauviana." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-jaffrey-meeting-house"Witness to a Revolution" (American): 2015: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive. With Mount Monadnock just off to the west, the waning light of day washes over the white clapboard siding of the Original Meeting House for the Town of Jaffrey, New Hampshire. Erected in 1775 only two years after the town's incorporation and after American Minutemen first began their armed fight with the British at Concord and Lexington, tradition states the frame of the structure was raised on Saturday, June 17th of that year, with workers recounting they heard booming cannon fire 70 miles east in Boston which they learned the next day was the Battle of Bunker Hill. Originally used by Congregationalists for church services and town business, worship took place here until 1844. The town website gives a few more details: "In 1822, the bell tower and spire were added, paid for by donations on the condition that the Town would buy the bell, which it did the following year. It was cast by the Paul Revere Foundry."

 

 

But I’m only one person, what can I do about it but spout a bunch of words?  Photography of course. The so-called Universal language. Like everyone’s favorite sports team. Surely one can have opinions concerning old photographs?  I’m betting yes and I hope you will.

 

 

5-aunt-ward-cr-tuckerDetail: "Aunt Ward": ca. 1890-1900 : Attributed photographer: Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): mounted brown-toned gelatin silver or albumen print on oversized card: 11.1 x 18.4 cm | 20.4 x 25.5 cm. Believed to have been taken in Massachusetts, and with cane firmly held in elderly hand, this unknown "Aunt Ward", who was a blood relation to the photographer, can be seen standing in threshold at center, could rightly epitomize the hardscrabble resourcefulness of a typical New England Yankee before all the modern benefits of the late 20th Century Industrial Revolution kicked into high gear. At the front of her weather-beaten Cape Cod style dwelling can be seen a trusty ladderback garden chair parked to the left of the doorway as well as wooden gutters overhead leading to large rain barrels front and back and anchored from behind at far left by a shingled outhouse. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-george-seeley-the-white-Detail: "VII. White Trees": 1910: George H. Seeley, American (1880-1955) : hand-pulled Japan-paper tissue photogravure by the Manhattan Photogravure Co. included with Camera Work issue XXIX:full image: 19.9 x 15.7 cm: Amateur photographer and painter George Henry Seeley, a native of Stockbridge, Massachusetts, made his living as supervisor of art for his local school district. In order to take full advantage of the showy beauty of the Berkshire region with a hint of the Taconic mountain range seen in the distance, he positioned his sisters in this plein air allegorical composition, with the trunk and back of a white birch tree (Betula papyrifera) anchoring this triangulated landscape at left. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

And photographic puns besides the point, I’ve learned there is no such thing as black and white-especially concerning peoples lives and how those lives are lived. Speaking of that aforementioned questionable public discourse, I’m more of the belief life is all about colorful nuance, and unless you have walked a mile in someone’s shoes, as my mother would say, what do you really know to be their reality and truths?

 

 

7harriet-hosmer-and-hosmerHosmer & Sculpture: Left: Portrait of sculptor Harriet Goodhue Hosmer (1830-1908): by Frederick DeBourg Richards, American (1822-1903): ca. 1850-60: salted paper print on card mount ; photo (oval) 15.7 x 12.1 cm, on mount 35.5 x 27.9 cm: Considered the most distinguished female sculptor in America during the 19th century, and working in the neoclassical style, Harriet Hosmer clutches her sculpting tools seen at far left while wearing her artist's smock in this portrait probably taken in Rome, Italy. Born 50 years earlier than photographer and painter George Seeley, Hosmer finished her early education just north of Seeley's Stockbridge in the town of Lenox, completing a course of study at Elizabeth Sedgwick’s School for Young Ladies before learning disciplines including rowing, skating and riding. With an interest in anatomy at a young age spurred by her father Hiram's occupation as a physician, her artistic skills began to take form after she took private lessons when only 20. {Women were not allowed to attend medical schools during that time.} She decided to to travel to Rome to further hone her skills and quickly made a name for herself there, receiving her first commission in 1856. Many of her works survive, including a marble sculpture of Puck (Wadsworth Atheneum in Hartford, CT) and a towering 10' likeness in bronze of Missouri Senator Thomas Hart Benton dedicated in 1868 (recently refurbished) and located in Lafayette Park in St. Louis. Of this gender-breaking artist, Hosmer's friend Elizabeth Barrett Browning described Harriet as “a perfectly emancipated female.” from: LOC Call Number: LOT 14120, no. 20. Right: pasted paper label: "Views in Concord, Mass." ca. 1885: on verso of oversized cabinet card "Old Manse, No. 3": Photographed by Alfred W. Hosmer, Concord, Mass. label: 7.0 x 14.4 cm; card: 18.1 x 21.4 cm. Born 20 years after his cousin Harriet Hosmer, Alfred Winslow Hosmer (1851-1903) also had a connection with sculpture via his friendship with fellow Concord, Mass. resident and sculptor Daniel Chester French. French, whose first major commission was the Minute Man statue outlined in this post, also had his Concord art studio photographed by Hosmer, with several cabinet card views including French's life-size nude sculpture of the Greek mythical male shepherd Endymion listed here for sale. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

Through the platform of this website, I hope truth and reality of our shared photographic artistic past are presented with enough facts and context to make a difference. I’m hoping conversations will develop because it exists, and they will be shared in some fashion. Facebook likes, page views, and the latest and greatest apps don’t really concern me here. Instead, just about everything you see will be estate fresh, so dig in and have fun.

 

 

8-harp-o-the-four-winds-byThe Harp o' The Four Winds-Nantucket: Jessie Tarbox Beals, American, born Canada: (1870-1942) Gelatin silver print ca. 1905-15 (this example 1920-26 when she rented a salon-studio at 333 Fourth Ave. in N.Y.C.): 19.0 x 23.9 | 43.1 x 28.2 cm : Although not a New England native like Harriet Hosmer, Jessie Tarbox Beals was also groundbreaking for her gender, and is credited as being the first female photojournalist. New England and Massachusetts however played formative roles in her life. According to a short biography provided by the New-York Historical Society, which holds an extensive archive of Beal's work, Jessie was only 17 when she moved to Williamsburg, Mass from Hamilton, Ontario to join an older brother. There, her first job was teaching "seven pupils in a one-room schoolhouse for $7 a week"… later, she became interested in photography the following year in 1888 after acquiring her first camera in a magazine contest. Shortly, she became a professional after investing "$12 and bought a Kodak camera, with which she established a photo studio on the front lawn of her home. Local residents came to have their portraits taken, or to ask for pictures of their houses and other possessions. Beals was aided in her commercial endeavors by groups of Smith College students, (from nearby Northampton-ed) who wanted pictures to be made of their parties and picnics. By the end of two summers she was making more money taking photographs than teaching school." This example of Beal's landscape work was taken in the Bay State in Nantucket, a 1920 caption in the New York Tribune for it stating: "An early morning camera symphony—the Harp o' the Four Winds, Nantucket, Mass., at 5 a. m." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

With mountains now in my backyard instead of the view of corn as high as an elephant’s eye from my last Midwest home, I’ve been thinking of late of the early ancestors and the roles they took-small but significant- in shaping from these parts an America I’m proud to call home.

 

Let me state off the top that my forebears did not come from money. Instead, other than the constant role of being soldiers in America’s early fight for Independence, they were hardscrabble Yankees: industrious farmers, deacons, bricklayers and later in the 19th century, stonemasons.

 

9-bennington-battle-monumeLeft: American Revolutionary War Brigadier General John Stark (1728-1822) points the way at the base of the Bennington Battle Monument in Vermont. 2016: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive. On August 16, 1777, approximately 2,000 militia members led by John Stark soundly defeated British General John Burgoyne's army made up primarily of Hessians during the Battle of Bennington at Walloomsac, New York. Although the battle lead to Burgoyne's eventual surrender at Saratoga and "galvanized colonial support for the independence movement" (Wikipedia) the battle was not without 30 militia causalities, including 17-year-old Jonathan Hosmer, Jr., (1760-77) the second Hosmer to die in the American Revolution after his uncle Abner nearly two years earlier at Concord. Right: "The Connecticut": 1897: Charles Rollins Tucker, American (b. 1868): albumen print : 12.4 x 17.6 cm | 16.6 x 21.4 cm: Besides being a primary inland navigational route used extensively by Native American tribes hundreds of years before European colonization, the Connecticut River and its watershed encompassing the fertile Connecticut River Valley remains largely responsible for the regions continued development. This longest of New England rivers not only continues to fuel agriculture on a large scale but beginning in the late 20th Century, with its' large number of waterfalls, provided plenty of factories situated along its' banks the energy needed to power the Industrial Revolution, with the cities of Hartford, Conn. and Springfield, Mass being two of its most prominent to gain population and prominence. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

But like all families that have been here a while, I also have several relatives I’m quite certain are famous, and am most proud to say even significant. For details, please consult the small print under the respective photographs in this post for Private Abner Hosmer, an 18th Century Concord, Mass. Minute Man and Harriet Goodhue Hosmer, 19th Century groundbreaking American female sculptor.

 

The Hosmer’s & the Great Migration


The ancestors on my mother’s side, the Hosmer’s of Hawkhurst, Kent in England, were part of the so-called Great Migration. I’m now counted as a 12th generation Hosmer descendant, the first landing on these shores being James Hosmer, (b. 1605) a clothier who made the ocean voyage to the new world with his family aboard the good ship Elizabeth of London in April of 1635. They called themselves Puritans and were seeking religious independence from the Crown. (Charles I)  It might have stopped there, and I for one am ever grateful it didn’t, because James’ wife Ann and two young daughters died during the trip or shortly after they arrived and settled in Cambridge in the Massachusetts Bay Colony. He remarried however, twice again due to death from disease in this new world, and went on to become one of the founders of Concord, Mass. two years later in 1637, where he made his living laying out grants of farmland and later serving as town selectman in 1660.

 

10-taconic-range-in-berkshThe Berkshires: Modern & Vintage: Left: "Sunset Glow over Mount Greylock State Reservation": by Shannon O'Brien: North Adams, Mass: Fall, 2016 (iPhone): Right: Detail: "Williamstown Hills, Williamstown" (Looking toward North Adams) "The encircling hills of Berkshire." : Arthur (Wentworth) Scott, American: 1899: hand-pulled photogravure plate included in volume: Nature Studies in Berkshire by John Coleman Adams published by G.P. Putnam's Sons: In the volume's introduction, "Our Berkshire" Coleman Adams sets the stage for the reader: "To know Berkshire is to love it. To love it is to feel a sort of proprietorship in it, a pride in its glories, a joy in its beauties, such as owners have in their estates and patriots in their native land. He who was born here clings to the soil if he stays, or reverts to it if he moves from it, with a New England steadfastness as intense and deep as a moral principle." (p. 3) From: Archive.org

 

11-fall-and-winter"Fall & First Snow: Williamstown": 2016: David Spencer for PhotoSeed Archive (iPhone)

 

 

As a native of the Nutmeg state, I’m now proud to hail from the Bay state in the Berkshire Hills. Time and inclination willing, there will be many more photographic treasures from the past displayed for public consumption on PhotoSeed, as well as the planned rollout in the coming year-finally-of PhotoSeed Gallery, an e-commerce platform through Shopify selling vintage work.  As your intrepid explorer and guide, I hope to present you with something worth thinking and conversing about in the new year and beyond.

-David Spencer-

 

12-allen-sisters-john-will"Williams Door": Frances and Mary Allen, American: ca. 1895-1905: Platinum print: 20.2 x 12.7 cm: Made from native old-growth, eastern white pine, this view shows the Connecticut River Valley Doorway built by joiner Samuel Partridge which graces the front of the John Williams house in Old Deerfield Village, Mass. The home, and doorway, (since removed in 2001, placed on display and replaced by a reproduction) is named for the Rev. John Williams (1664-1729) in the village, and is now owned by Deerfield Academy. (the door is featured in the private school's seal) Rev. Williams was "a New England Puritan minister who became famous for The Redeemed Captive, his account of his captivity by the Mohawk after the Deerfield Massacre during Queen Anne's War." (Wikipedia) Working in the pictorial photographic style at the end and beginning of the 20th Century, the Allen Sisters of Deerfield did a brisk trade for tourists through their staged genre scenes and colonial views of Old Deerfield, including the Williams door seen here which carries a price tag on the verso of .50 cents. The home was originally built in 1760 by the Rev. Williams' son Elijah Williams, a shopkeeper and tavern-owner. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

13-1910-jane-dudley"Tom and Betty Put the Things on Ammi": 1910: Sarah Jane Dudley, American: (1859-1940) frontis plate to the volume: A Daughter of the Revolution by Jessie Anderson Chase: Boston: Richard G. Badger: The Gorham Press 1910: Platinum print, mounted, with Dudley's cipher at lower right corner: 20.2 x 15.3 | 20.5 x 15.7 cm: Besides her interest in amateur photography, Whitensville, Massachusetts native Jane Dudley, a graduate of Wheaton Female Seminary, was the organizer of the Samaritan Association of Whitinsville. This vintage example of a genre study showing children dressed in 18th century clothing while dressing their doll in an attic was done in the very popular style at the beginning of the 20th Century known as "Colonial Revival", which took advantage of America's love of its' colonial past. From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

From: A Dissertation on the Canon and Feudal Law-1765

Liberty cannot be preserved without a general knowledge among the people, who have a right, from the frame of their nature, to knowledge, as their great Creator, who does nothing in vain, has given them understandings, and a desire to know; but besides this, they have a right, an indisputable, unalienable, indefeasible, divine right to that most dreaded and envied kind of knowledge, I mean, of the characters and conduct of their rulers.

 

–John Adams

 

 

Stages for Ages

 

All the world’s a stage, And all the men and women merely players: They have their exits and their entrances; And one man in his time plays many parts, His acts being seven ages.

-From As You Like It, Act II. Scene VII, Jaques’s speech


1-cover-1876Detail: book cover: "Shakspere’s Seven Ages" Illustrated by J. Landy: Octavo with letterpress and seven individual pasted albumen portrait photographs by Landy: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876: from: PhotoSeed Archive

 

In life, Birthdays typically get all the attention. At least while your friends are around. Not so much death. But for certain souls long departed this mortal coil, it’s just as important. This is especially true for English playwright and poet William Shakespeare, whose passing on April 23, 1616 at 52 years of age- or 400 years ago today- seems like a perfectly good excuse to throw a party as well. Cincinnati portrait photographer James M. Landy (1838-1897) would have readily agreed, and he used the excuse of another anniversary-America’s first Centennial held in 1876 in Philadelphia- to showcase his new series of “character photographs” illustrating the Bard’s Seven Ages of Man from his play As You Like It . (1.)

 

Come along on a short photographic journey exploring these ages of the male species, according to Shakespeare. Have they changed with the passage of time?

 

2-first-ageThe First Age: Detail: "The Infant" : James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "At first the infant, Mewling and puking in the nurse’s arms.": From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

3-second-ageThe Second Age: Detail: "The Schoolboy": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Then the whining school-boy, with his satchel, And shining morning face, creeping like snail Unwillingly to school." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

4-the-lover-third-ageThe Third Age: Detail: "The Lover": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.3 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "And then the lover, Sighing like furnace, with a woful ballad Made to his mistress’ eyebrow." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

5-the-soldier-fourth-ageThe Fourth Age: Detail: "The Soldier": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Then a soldier, Full of strange oaths, and bearded like the pard, Jealous in honor, sudden and quick in quarrel, Seeking the bubble reputation Even in the cannon’s mouth." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

6-the-justice-fifth-ageThe Fifth Age: "The Justice": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.3 x 9.7 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "And then the Justice, In fair round belly, with good capon lin'd, With eyes severe, and beard of formal cut, Full of wise saws and modern instances; And so he plays his part." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

7-sixth-ageThe Sixth Age: "The Lean and Slipper’d Pantaloon": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "The sixth age shifts Into the lean and slipper’d pantaloon, With spectacles on nose and pouch on side, His youthful hose well saved, a world too wide For his shrunk shank; and his big manly voice, Turning again toward childish treble, pipes And whistles in his sound." From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

8-seventh-ageThe Seventh Age: Detail: "Sans Teeth, Sans Eyes, Sans Taste, Sans Everything": James M. Landy, American: 1876: pasted albumen print included in the volume "Shakspere’s Seven Ages": 14.0 x 9.9 | 24.7 x 19.0 cm: Cincinnati: Robert Clarke & Co., 1876. Captioned text opposite book plate: "Last scene of all That ends this strange eventful history, Is second childishness and mere oblivion— Sans teeth, sans eyes, sans taste, sans everything.” From: PhotoSeed Archive

 

 

1. James Landy: from: ‪Artists in Ohio, 1787-1900‬: ‪A Biographical Dictionary‬, ‪Mary Sayre Haverstock‬ et al: ‪Kent State University Press‬, 2000: p. 506