Edith Wynne Matthison as Everyman

Edith Wynne Matthison as Everyman

The subject of this photograph is the British stage actress Edith Wynne Matthison (1875-1955) in the lead role of “Everyman”, a late 15th-century English morality play that opened on Broadway at Mendelssohn Hall on October 12, 1902. An online study guide describes the “Everyman” character in the following terms:

“God decides that Everyman (a character who represents your average, everyday human) has become too obsessed with wealth and material possessions. Therefore, Everyman must be taught a lesson in piety. And who better to teach a life-lesson than a character named Death?”  (1.)

Alice Boughton, (1867-1943) a well respected New York portrait photographer who studied in Paris with Gertrude Käsebier and also worked as an assistant in Käsebier’s New York studio before striking out on her own, was appointed a Fellow of the Photo-Secession by Alfred Stieglitz and had her work published in his journal Camera Work.

The photograph seen here was described as: A New Portrait of Edith Wynne Matthison. It was copyrighted by Boughton in 1904 and reproduced as a full page halftone in the May, 1904 issue of The Lamp: A Review and Record of Current Literature, on p. 283.

This photograph is an example of platinum printing on Japan tissue, a process Boughton may have learned when working with Käsebier:

“Gertrude Kasebier coated platinum on Japan tissue to realize a medium in which light from the paper surface below was reflected back through to give a special luminous quality to the image.”  (2.)

Japan tissue corner tipped to moderately thin board support and signed Alice Boughton in pencil on recto margin.

On print support verso:

Mr. Rickett

Rickett reference on verso may refer to musical composer Edmond W. Rickett, best known for writing the music for the fairy tale play “Snow White.” A commercially-produced stage photograph of Edith Wynne Matthison in the role of “Everyman” and dressed in identical clothes (Rotary Photo 1794 K) as this photograph by Boughton was signed by her in 1907.

The following two photographs by Boughton were exhibited at the First International Salon of Art Photography in the Hague from June 20-July 28, 1904 at the Pulchri Studio:

1. Edith Wynne Matthison
2. Sunshine

1. About.com website entry for Everyman character accessed 2011
2. The Platinum Print-The History of the Platinum Process: A Reference to the Scientific, Commercial, and Aesthetic Development of  the Platinotype: John Hafey & Tom Shillea: Graphic Arts Research Center-Rochester Institute of Technology: 1979

Edith Wynne Matthison as Everyman

Image Dimensionsimage: 24.1 x 19.0 cm support tissue: 27.8 x 21.2 cm

Support Dimensions34.3 x 27.9 cm