Two for Tea

Two for Tea

Two children sit at a small table while enjoying a game of tea.

Boston pictorialist photographer Alice Austin was also a sculptor who, early in her life, moved from Maine to Minnesota with her family. Her father, Horace Austin, later became governor of that state in the 1870s. She studied painting at the Massachusetts Normal School, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, and the Pratt Institute in New York with Arthur Dow. After graduation, she became the supervisor of drawing in the Brooklyn public schools and soon developed an interest in photography. In Brooklyn, she worked as a dark room assistant to Gertrude Kasebier, who opened her eyes to the potential of photography. By 1900, Austin had moved to Boston where she opened a studio and became a member of the Society of Arts and Crafts. She exhibited her photographs widely and also took sculpture classes at the Copley Society. (1.)

In her article: Selling Pictorialist Photography as Craft: Alice Austin’s Artistic Production and Role in the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts between 1900 and 1933, author Caroline M. Riley has penned the definitive biography of this important photographer. From the Abstract:

Alice Austin (1862–1933) worked as a professional photographer in Boston from 1900 until 1933. She joined Alfred Stieglitz’s Photo-Secessionists group in 1905 and worked as a committee member at the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts for approximately thirty years. (2.)

Print notes: brown-toned platinum print. recto: signed by the artist in lower right corner in black ink: Alice Austinverso: signed in graphite on secondary mount are details believed to relate to framing: G Van Dyke  44 Prospect Ave  1.12  #6417; adhesive residue along top margin of secondary mount indicates former presence of tertiary mount, since lost.

Provenance: Acquired by this archive in January, 2022 from a dealer who purchased it at a St. Louis area estate sale. The children depicted in this photograph may be related to the former owner of the work as enumerated on the mount verso. The original owner George Douglass Van Dyke, 1853-1949, a lawyer, was a Milwaukee, Wisconsin native. He graduated from Princeton in 1873 and was president of the Pewabic Company, an iron-ore mining company in Michigan. A photograph of his significant mansion, which formerly stood at 44 Prospect Ave. in Milwaukee, can be seen here in the Milwaukee Public Library Digital Collections.

1. Excerpt: Erica E. Hirshler: A Studio of Her Own: Women Artists in Boston 1870-1940. Boston: MFA Publications, 2001. p. 174

2. Caroline M. Riley: Selling Pictorialist Photography as Craft: Alice Austin’s Artistic Production and Role in the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts between 1900 and 1933. In: The Journal of Modern Craft Volume 8—Issue 3 November 2015. Austin was a founding member of the Photography Guild at the Boston Society of Arts and Crafts. This organization still exists today, as the Society of Arts + Crafts in Boston. A history along with a link to its’ original 1897 charter can be found here.

Two for Tea

Image Dimensions14.5 x 16.0 cm brown-toned print, corner glued

Support Dimensions15.3 x 17.7 | 22.8 x 25.4 cm brown art papers