Pleasure Under Summer Skies

Pleasure Under Summer Skies

The brass nameplate attached to this superb quarter-sawn oak frame by James E. Underhill gives the title of this William T. Knox photograph: “Pleasure Under Summer Skies”. We know the work dates to 1905, as it was initially exhibited in the Second American Photographic Salon, overseen by the American Federation of Photographic Societies under President Curtis Bell. At the time, William Knox was Federation Secretary. His job was to make a record from mail received of those intending to submit work from around the United States and foreign countries, with the deadline for receipt being October 31, 1905. An initial 1000 entries were accepted for this national salon before preliminary judges culled these down for a different set of final judges. The deadline for all entries was November 1, 1905 in the offices of the Metropolitan Camera Club of New York. 

Among other journals, The American Amateur Photographer for July, 1905 printed the guidelines and deadlines for the salon. (pp. 334-6) The final traveling exhibit of exemplary work selected by the judges was initially to commence beginning in late 1905 and continuing through mid 1906. The Photographic Times for August, 1905 (p. 377) listed ten city venues (hosted by their respective camera clubs): New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Pittsburg, (PA-Editor) Chicago, San Francisco, Portland, (Oregon-Editor) Minneapolis, Toronto, Boston.

By January, 1906 however, a notice in The Photo-American listed the order as seven cities:

The Route List for the Second American Photographic Salon is as follows:—

Providence Camera Club, Providence, R. I., Dec. 27, ’05, to Jan. 6, ’06.

Pittsburgh Academy of Science and Art (Photographic Section), Pittsburgh. Pa., Jan. 12, ’06, to Jan. 31, ’06.

Capital Camera Club, Washington, D. C, Feb. 5, ’06, to Feb. 20. ’06.

Chicago Camera Club, Chicago, Ill., March 1st to March 22, ’06.

Minneapolis, Camera Club. Minneapolis, Minn., March 29 to April 14, ’06.

Metropolitan Camera Club, New York, N. Y., April 18 to May 2, ’06.  

Boston Camera Club, Boston, Mass., May 7 to May 19, ’06.    (p. 32)

However, The May, 1906 issue of The Photographic Times revised the above list for the Metropolitan Camera Club’s hosting of the salon, from May 28th to June 9. (p. 140)

Printed in sepia platinum, this fine children’s genre study in a landscape by Brooklyn Camera Club president William T. Knox probably dates ca. 1906-08. The two-piece integrated frame was made by James E. Underhill, a fellow club member. It retains its’ original green and white label on the frame verso. (Jas. E. Underhill, 33 John St., New York City. MAKER Picture Frames.) A biography of William T. Knox along with a portrait of the photographer by Charles F. Clarke can be found here.

Some fascinating technical details for this photograph appeared along with a full-page halftone reproduction on page 129 for the first 1908 edition of the Library of Amateur Photography: Vol. III: General Exterior Photography Composition:

Study No. 12. Title, “Pleasures Under Summer Skies,” by Wm. T. Knox, New York, N. Y. This picture was made in very bright sunlight ; exposure was made in the morning; the lens used was a Plastigmat; focal length, 81/2 inches; stop used, No. 8 ; exposure given, 1-50 of a second ; plate used was a Cramer Instantaneous Isochromatic; developed in pyro-acetone. Diffusion was obtained in the focusing. Printing process, sepia Platinum, mounted on a combination mount, first section, deep brown, second section, salmon color. (p. 453: Published by American School of Art and Photography: Scranton, PA)

Published: Full-page halftone and titled Pleasures Under Summer Skies in: the May monthly issue of The Photographic Times: 1906 p. 224; 1908: see above entry for the Library of Amateur Photography.

Print Notes recto: Slight fading to areas of print margins.

Collections: Another example of this print described as a toned gelatin silver print held by the Getty Museum.


Provenance: Acquired by PhotoSeed in August, 2019 from a dealer in Brooklyn, New York who stated it had come from the former estate of a woman who had lived on E. 12th Street in Brooklyn.


Timeline: James Engle Underhill: A Fine Picture Framer: 1870-1914 


1870:  U.S. Census: Living in Brooklyn’s 20th Ward, James Engle Underhill was 5 months old when Census taken. Living with father Henry, a drug store clerk, and mother Clarinda Ann Underhill, (1848-1914) a homemaker.


1900: U.S. Census: Underhill’s occupation listed as Art Dealer; living in Brooklyn at 144 South Elliott Place.

A surviving label from his business from around this time or earlier is printed: James E. Underhill, Cor. Nassau & John Sts. New York City. First Floor. MAKER of Fine Picture Frames: For any style Wall Decorations. Flemish, Dutch, Italian, Colonial & Modern Effects. Hardwoods & ____. Commercial & Exhibition Work. Dealer & Importer in Water Colors, Etchings, Gravures & Prints.


1902: Or before: Underhill conducting business as a picture framer at 33 John Street in New York City.  His residence is 281 Stuyvesant Ave. (Source: The City of New York: September 4 Appendix: Proceedings of the Board of Aldermen.)


1905: James E. Underhill and younger brother Henry L.(ouis) Underhill, (b. 1874- died May 8, 1919 ) are listed as being on the Executive Committee and Committee on Rooms and Appliances with the Department of Photography of the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences. (first organized in March, 1889) Around this time, Underhill, like William T. Knox, was a member of the Brooklyn Camera Club and listed as having won many awards for his photographs in the Photographic Press.


– At the annual Exhibition of the Brooklyn Camera Club, Underhill awarded the President’s cup for best picture in the exhibit and a silver medal for his photograph “August Morning”, a marine study. (Camera Craft, April. p. 246)


1906: At The New Gallery in London, exhibits two photographs: “Against Storm and Tide” and “Snow and Sleet” during the 51st Annual Exhibition of the Royal Photographic Society .


1913: Advertisement in November issue of Arts and DecorationPicture Framers: “Hardwood, Veneer and Antique gold effects. Particular attention will be given to out of town orders. James E. Underhill, 33 John Street, New York.


1914: Dies on February 14th. Buried along with his mother and brother at Greenwood Cemetery in Brooklyn.

Pleasure Under Summer Skies

Image Dimensions19.6 x 24.5 cm flush mounted

Support DimensionsFrame: two-piece integrated: 34.5 x 39.5 x 2.0 cm (Shown with glass removed) Support: 19.6 x 24.5 cm Thick, Bristol-board type matrix