Anne Pilsbury was from Boston at the time this portfolio was published.

Anne Knowlton Pilsbury: 1874-1905


ANNE PILSBURY.—Within a few years there has come into existence what is known as the new school of photography, for which F. Holland Day, Mrs. Kasebier, Francis Watts Lee, and others have won wide recognition. Among the younger members of this school, Miss Pilsbury, during the four years she has been at work as a photographer, has made for herself a rather enviable place. Older photographers of the new school have spoken warmly of her work, while what has perhaps pleased her most has been praise from men who are working in the conventional way, but who speak appreciatively of what she is doing.

She has had, of course, to meet the criticism which has very naturally greeted all this new-school photography, or artistic photography, as it has been called. This term has been used to cover much work, both good and bad, and has become a term of reproach to many people. To them it means simply a picture out of focus, and either very shadowy or with those strong contrasts of light and shade supposed by some to give a truly Rembrandt effect: for they often seize upon extravagances committed in the name of artistic photography as its worthy representatives. A photograph to be good in their eyes must be sharply focussed, with all its details distinct. They hardly realize that there is room for another method. At the recent caricature show in Boston was exhibited an almost invisible picture of a baby mounted in one corner of a large card, bearing the notice, “Special attention given to photographs of children.”

Miss Pilsbury began her work five years ago by studying with Miss Weil, of Philadelphia. In the spring of 1899 she came to Boston, rented a studio on Boylston Street, in what was once an old dwelling-house, and courageously began business among a host of well-known photographers. The original character of her work gradually brought her into notice, and her reputation spread. While Miss Pilsbury lays no claim to high artistic achievement, she has made it her aim in her professional work, by the substitution of simple methods for the older stilted methods, to secure for parents records of the unconscious charm of their children. and in her portraits of older people has worked for natural and at the same time slightly idealized results.

It is in her portraits of children that she especially excels: children, feeling that she understands them and sympathizes with them, are at ease with her. She sometimes uses a simple flat lighting, suggesting Boutet de Monvel’s pictures of children. Her best portraits are noticeable for their unstudied pose, softness of outline, and interesting lighting, an excellent example being a picture of an old lady seated by a window, the play of light and shade over her face softening it very charmingly.

Miss Pilsbury has made a distinct advance each year in the character of her work. She is not content to stand still or to follow in one beaten track. This spirit of experiment and revolt from the conventional has made her work uneven. She has perhaps attempted more than she could carry out, for a lens has many limitations. But the mistakes she has made have been just so many encouraging signs of progress. In the end she has gained.

Miss Pilsbury is a member of the Arts and Crafts Society of Boston. She has exhibited in the Photographic Salon of Philadelphia, in the Salon of the Linked Ring in London, and in several other cities.   (Source: Anne Pilsbury: Representative Women of New England: 1904: pp. 286-87)

The photographer is cited posthumously in an article from the Washington (D.C.) Evening Star newspaper of April 22, 1905:



The fourteenth annual exhibition of the Capital Camera Club, which opens this evening in the hemicycle of the Corcoran Gallery with a private view and reception, will prove without doubt an event of much interest.  It stands for the most advanced work produced through the medium of the camera, and it sets forth in attractive form pleasing pictures.

…Another important group is made up of the work of Miss Anne Pilsbury who came to this city from Boston last fall intending to make it her home, but, unhappily, died of pneumonia after she had been here but a few short weeks. Hers was undoubtedly a rare talent and the eight prints which represent her in this exhibition serve as a fitting memorial to her skill. They are chiefly Interpretations of children, and while delicate in tone are well-defined and pleasing in effect. (29 years of age at her death, she died on January 5, 1905 with her final address listed as 1114 H St., N.W. in Washington D.C.-familysearch.org)



Image Dimensions17.0 x 8.1 cm tipped along upper margin

Support Dimensions35.4 x 27.8 cm