Clarence H. White

Clarence H. White

Clarence H. White, 1871-1925, the subject of this portrait, was a founding member of the American Photo Secession movement along with Alfred Stieglitz. Beginning in 1914, he established the Clarence H. White School of Photography in New York City. Signed on the lower mount by White and inscribed At East Canaan Conn. August 1916, the portrait was taken during the Seventh Summer Session of the School of Photography at Stevens Farm in East Canaan, CT when Providence, Rhode Island amateur photographer Ruth Anthony Davis. (1880-1979) was a student there that summer. (1.)

The following description of this session was described in detail in the March 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.


Sessions of the school are held in a commodious and neatly finished building equipped with dark-room, printing and exhibition room, studio, enlarging room, and a lecture and conference room. The dark-room is completely fitted with all necessary paraphernalia, and the other rooms are no less adequately equipped.


The efforts of the faculty, which consists of Mr. White and Paul L. Anderson, are directed toward familiarizing the student with the construction and use of the camera, with the types of lenses and their applications, with exposure and development, and with the various printing mediums of value to the artist. It is realized that technique is of no worth unless it expresses thought, and at least as much time and effort as are given to the study of technical methods are devoted to training the perceptions of the photographer and to cultivating in him a mental attitude which will make his work of lasting value from an artistic point of view. Some of the students of former years are now among the most favorably known exhibitors of this country and Europe.


Continuous exhibitions of the Work of America’s ablest artist photographers are held during the entire term, thus affording the student opportunity to familiarize himself with the work of the most noted men and Women. Frequent excursions to points of interest in the surrounding country are held during the term, the cost of the excursions being defrayed from the laboratory fees.


The school building is on the grounds of the Stevens farm, the farm-house itself being of Pre-Revolutionary period but remodelled and modernized. Board and lodging may be obtained here at from eight to ten dollars a week for all expenses. Arrangements have been made whereby a number of students may be accommodated with sleeping quarters in tents on the farm grounds.  (pp. 7-8)

The June, 1916 issue of the Photographic Journal of America gave more particulars:

Seventh Summer Session: 1916


The Clarence H. White School Of Photography, East Canaan, Connecticut, 
          July 10 To August 19


The seventh summer session of the Clarence H. White School of Photography will be held at East Canaan, Conn., during July and August, 1916, the growth of the school having necessitated a change from the former location at Seguinland, Maine. East Canaan is situated in a beautiful valley in the Berkshire hills of Northern Connecticut, and is about four hours’ ride by train from New York City.


The seventh session of the school comprises a period of six weeks, opening Monday, July 10 and closing Saturday, August 19. The hours are from nine till one, and from three till nve, though the building is at all times open to the students for free work. The morning hours are devoted to lectures and demonstrations, the afternoons being given to the execution of problems, both artistic and technical.


Applications for accommodations may be made to Mr. White or direct to Miss Clara Z. Bottum, Stevens Farm, East Canaan, Conn.


For reservations or further information, address: Clarence H. White, 230 East 11th Street, New York City. (2.)

print and mount details recto: signed (graphite?) in lower right corner: Ruth Anthony Davis

signed in black ink script to window matte:

Clarence H. White

At East Canaan Conn.
August 1916.

provenance: Elizabeth G. Stoltz | Florida estate; purchased 2015


1. As early as 1901, Davis had been a member- according to a periodical reference that year- of the Providence Camera Club. Warren and Margo Coville Collection at the Library of Congress curator Kathleen A. Erwin includes background on Ruth Anthony Davis on a postcard held by the library: Went one summer to East Canaan School [1916 only year school at East Canaan]. Verna Curtis, curator in the Prints and Photographs Division at the Library of Congress states in an email to this website in 2015 that another print of this portrait of Clarence H. White is held by the LC. It is not signed nor dated. Call number for this work is PR 13 CN 2004.027.34 (Box 3A)

2. Notes and News: Photographic Journal of America: June, 1916: p. 274

Clarence H. White

Image Dimensions24.2 x 19.3 cm tipped to primary mount

Support Dimensions29.0 x 21.5 cm Japan paper | 36.2 x 28.6 cm manilla card-stock (window opening: 25.6 x 20.5 cm)