Unskilled & Unacquainted with Photography


Perhaps as a final swan song to its illustrious editor, the final issue of the American Amateur Photographer  in which Alfred Stieglitz was associated-December 1895-featured an actual gelatin-silver photograph by the American master.  (1.)


blog-alfred-stieglitz-at-lake-como-december-1895-velox-silver-gelatinDetail: Alfred Stieglitz: "At Lake Como": matt surface Velox (silver-chloride) print: 15.5 x 22.8 cm | 12.75 x 18.5 cm: from: "The American Amateur Photographer": December, 1895: A Velox "Nepera Chemical Company" blindstamp can be seen at far right margin of print: from PhotoSeed Archive


But don’t get too excited. Unlike the exacting standards Stieglitz made in creating master prints from one of his own negatives, (often not exceeding one example) At Lake Como taken in 1887 was reproduced in several thousand examples for the issue. In fact, copy supplied by the paper manufacturer, the Nepera Chemical Company, inferred the simplicity involved in exposing the Velox paper it was printed on: “exposures were made by a boy unskilled or unacquainted with photography”.


From the collecting standpoint, especially by one of the medium’s greats, the print however is extremely rare, and is a continuation of the fascinating history of photographic marketing in which original prints were bound inside journals for the purpose of selling product, in this case the Velox brand.  You can read more about the process of making this print here, and see the uncropped version.


For myself, the artist’s intent for At Lake Como is more fully realized- and unfaded- in another version seen below: a hand-pulled gravure reproduced in 1893.


blog-at-lake-como-alfred-stieglitz-1893"At Lake Como": 1893: hand-pulled photogravure by N.Y. Photogravure Company: 12.8 x 18.8 cm: which appeared in the December 1, 1893 issue of The Photographic Times: from PhotoSeed Archive


1. Stieglitz however did appear as co-editor on the masthead of the American Amateur Photographer along with F.C. Beach for the final issue of January, 1896.


This entry was posted on Friday, February 15th, 2013 at 11:43pm and is filed under Advertising, New Additions. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

  1. David Spencer

    on February 19th, 2013 - 10:08am David Spencer said:

    Jose, Thanks for the comment! I too found the "unskilled or unacquainted" reference particularly amusing, and that is kind of the point. Give anything over 100 years to percolate and you are bound to find all sorts of new inferences. In another conundrum, Stieglitz famously derided the culture rampantly consumed with "pressing the button" and having Kodak do the rest, and yet I've found several examples, including a very important 1905 Kodak exhibition catalogue, in which he himself not only pressed the button, but won a prize in. I'll go ahead and post about that soon. Thanks for much for the comment! David Spencer-

  2. José Velez

    on February 18th, 2013 - 2:27pm José Velez said:

    While reading this post, the fine humorous note about the "unskilled or unacquainted" boy immediately recalled me an hilarious page I found a long time ago, but still available in the net, with some pseudo critiques about famous photographs/photographers
    With you permission, I will provide the respective link below, as I think it's another wonderful example of how photography and humor make a good match, and how healthy is to be able to laugh about ourselves. Please note how the comments of some unwarned readers still add dimension to the satirical nature of the post.

    Best regards,

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