Oriental Study

Oriental Study

This toned photograph done in the pictorial style depicts an unknown gentleman dressed in head scarf wearing beads and jewels. The “Oriental” term assigned by this archive to the image title is instructive only in it being consistent with genre “costume studies” done around this time (1920-1925) and earlier from the late 19th Century. For modern viewers, the term would  be considered archaic, one even having negative connotations.

For photographers like Hellmuth, whose background as an artist and even those working 20 years before him like Fred Holland Day, who famously dressed in the role- ethnic “types” from the East were often a popular photographic subject exploited in stylized portrayals like this one. With the further popularity of silent movies in the late teens and 1920’s introducing large audiences to movie stars such as Rudolph Valentino in roles such as “The Sheik“, (1921) those from the “East” became even more attractive subjects in popular culture, with their other worldly qualities including dress, customs and mystery quickly distilled and exploited for maximum effect by the camera.

print details: recto: Hellmuth ink stamp in margin of primary support

print details: verso: black ink stamp to board secondary support:

Chas. A. Hellmuth
338 W. 22nd St.,
New York

title in black ink: # 1 – Study.

151 circled in graphite

Oriental Study

Image Dimensions23.9 x 17.9 cm

Support Dimensions26.5 x 19.3 cm | 31.5 x 24.4 cm (entire mount shown)