Danish Scholar and Explorer Frits Holm

Danish Scholar and Explorer Frits Holm

Danish scholar and adventurer Frits Vilhelm Holm. (1881-1930)

Sidney Allan, (the critic Sadakichi Hartmann) writes about American photographer Sherril Schell and comments on this photograph (reproduced with the title of Mr. H.) in the journal Photo-Era one year after this image was published in Photographische Mitteilungen:

“FEW professional photographers have a distinct style of their own. By this I mean a method of pose or finish that is recognizable at the first glance. The work of every great portrait-painter possessed this quality; and it is only logical to expect it in every powerful interpreter of the human face, no matter what the medium may be.
The more astonishing it seems to me that a newcomer in the field should be able to imbue his portraits with so much charm and expression, that they stand out as the distinct productions of one man. I am referring to the work of Sherril Schell, who is now in his second season in a little studio in Lexington Avenue. New York City. He is thirty years of age and has lived most of his life in California, having left that state shortly after the San Francisco earthquake. For a short time he traveled in Europe. He was never active as an amateur, but started as a professional after serving an apprenticeship with a New York Third Avenue photographer. He professes to be the disciple of no one, trying to work out a style of his own, although his artist-friends seem to think his work shows a strong German influence Nevertheless, his work was first recognized in Germany, and several of his pictures have been reproduced in the photographic periodicals over there. In this country he is comparatively unknown, he has never sent any prints to the Salons or other exhibitions, and it is really Photo-era which for the first time gives his work the publicity it calls for and deserves.
What attracts me to Schell’s portraits is their sincerity of purpose, their breadth of treatment, their suave technique, and their elegance of arrangement. Here, at last, we have a camera craftsman who has the necessary mastery of technique plus invention. This photographer thinks, he is a man of fastidious taste, who studies every object — not merely the face — with scrupulous care, in order that certain characteristic traits may be accurately reproduced, and therein is where Schell excels — his attention to and finish of detail. This is the more curious as he combines this sensitiveness of observation with the use of large planes that sweep together all the various parts of the composition into a harmonious entity. Look at the accompanying portraits. Notice the delicate effect of the wet hair in the portrait of the young explorer Frits von Holm; the virile highlights on the flask and frame in the “Orientale.” one of the Russian dancers; the prominence of the box, fan and patterned dress in “Miss K.,” and the soft, lustrous quality of the embroidery in ” Miss B.” They lend animation to the pictures, and yet all these details are strictly subordinated to the main interests of the face and general attitude of the body.” 1.

1. Sherril Schell, Portrait-Pictorialist: by Sidney Allan (Sadakichi Hartmann) : in: Photo-Era: The American Journal of Photography: Boston: Photo-Era Publishing Company: Vol. XXVIII April, 1912: p. 141

Danish Scholar and Explorer Frits Holm

Image Dimensions15.2 x 13.2 cm May Heft 9