Photographisches Centralblatt: 1895-1903, Photographic showcase for the Munich Secession

Photographisches Centralblatt: 1895-1903, Photographic showcase for the Munich Secession

Munich artist Theodor Schmuz-Baudiss created the Jugendstil-inspired woman and floral-motif woodcut used on the cover of the 1898 issues of Photographisches Centralblatt.

A German photographic journal published under the cooperation of the Camera Club of Vienna was the Photographisches Centralblatt.  (Photographic Central Sheet or Photographic Journal)  First appearing in October of 1895 (1) and ending under its own imprint in 1903,  it was published twice monthly and priced at 1 Mark. Title page information beginning in 1898 indicates it was first published on the fifth of each month, and included at least one hand-pulled photogravure as well as numerous full-page halftone plates. The second monthly issue came out on the 20th and featured mostly technical articles and club news.

Professor Fritz Schmidt, a lecturer and head of the Photographic Institute based at Karlsruhe Palace (then part of the Karlsruhe Technische Hochschule and presently The University of Karlsruhe), was the journals first publisher and editor. Schmidt, specializing in the technical aspects of photography,  held his position at the Hochschule since 1888 (2) and was the author of Photographisches Fehlerbuch, (Photographic Mistakes) a volume first published in 1895, the same year Photographisches Centralblatt appeared. Successive expanded editions of Schmidt’s Fehlerbuch included reviews like the following which appeared   in 1900:

“This is a quite encyclopaedic reference book of the causes of, and remedies for, all the fogs, stains, spots, and other ills that photographic plates and papers can develop. They are classified under processes and in many cases illustrated by lithographic plates. It is a textbook of photography which enforces its lessons in the school of experience, and for this reason is probably the most scientifically arranged manual existent. For it takes facts as its basis, and the motto on its title-page ought to be Experientia docet.” (Experience is the best teacher)  3.
Initially, Karlsruhe publisher Otto Nemnich, responsible for issuing Schmidt’s technical volume, printed the Photographisches Centralblatt.

But as a photographic publication, Centralblatt apparently lacked a distinct mission. Its featured technical content and photographic illustrations were both similar to  those found in Das Atelier des Photographen as well as Photographische Rundschau, (4) (although picture editor Ernst Juhl in 1896 began a revitalization of the Photographische Rundschau) two photographic journals published by Wilhelm Knapp in Halle. Perhaps due to similarity, a new direction was sought for Centralblatt.

In this regard, Fritz Matthies-Masuren (1873-1938) would be its savior. Now known as one of one of the most important proponents of early artistic photography in Germany and the Continent as well as a frequent correspondent with Alfred Stieglitz in America, Matthies-Masuren spent part of his formative artistic education studying painting among other creative endeavors at the State Academy of Fine Arts in Karlsruhe, enrolling in 1894 (5) when he was 20 or 21 years of age. By 1896, he had become an avid photographer with an interest in breaking down conventional photographic wisdom. In October of 1897 he moved to Munich, accepting the managing editorship responsible for among other things, the journals photographic illustrations from its new publisher Georg D.W. Callwey. 6.
A surviving year-end title page from the 1897 volume of Centralblatt (7) included the following subtitle: Internationale Rundschau auf dem Gesamt-Gebiete der Photographie. (International review on all aspects of Photography) But with Callwey as new publisher, the January 1898 issue was launched with a new design as well as content. (8) To put an emphasis on its new direction in relation to artistic photography, the subtitle was changed to Zeitschrift für Künstlerische und Wissenschaftliche Photographie. (Journal of Artistic and Scientific Photography) Professor Fritz Schmidt stayed on as editor through 1898, (9) but the title page for the bound volume issued by Callwey at the end of the year omitted his name altogether, listing Matthies-Masuren as sole editor.

In neighboring Austria,  the publication of the final issue of the Vienna Camera Club journal Wiener Photographische Blätter occurred in December 1898, but the club was able to continue its mission by teaming up with the Photographisches Centralblatt beginning in 1899. Professor Franz Schiffner, who edited Wiener Photographische Blätter for its entire 1894-1898 run, now joined Matthies-Masuren as co-editor of the journal. With a background in technical photography, specializing in photogrammetry, (photographic surveying) Schiffner as early as 1888 had been a Professor at the Austro-Hungarian Naval Base Secondary School in Pola. (today Pula, Croatia) (10) By 1892, as indicated in the volume Imperial and Royal Gazette for the Ministry of Culture and Education, he was listed as teaching at an undetermined secondary school in a Vienna municipality. 11.

1898 was a watershed year for Matthies-Masuren and especially for European photographic pictorialism. Besides his responsibilities as co-editor, he mounted, according to its’ published catalogue, 304 photographs as part of the Elite-Ausstellung künstlerischer Photographien (International Exhibition of Artistic Photographs) at the end of the year in the Munich Secession:

“The aim of this exhibition was, among other things, to confirm that art photography was on an equal footing with the other media in the fine arts hierarchy and, at the same time, to encourage painters to “use this new, independent means of expression…” 12.

Monthly issues (published on the fifth of each month) of the Centralblatt during 1898 were devoted to the work of a particular photographer, which certainly made it stand out among other photographic publications. The Hofmeister brothers, Georg Einbeck, Prof. Paul Hoecker, Carl Winkel, Otto Scharf, Otomar Anschütz, Dr. Hugo Henneberg, Robert Demachy and even Fritz Matthies-Masuren for the February issue were all featured in the journal for 1898. A snapshot of the contents page for January, 1898 lists correspondence relating to art-photography from a wide European geography: Berlin, Danzig, Dresden, Hamburg, Paris, Prag and Vienna. In addition, club news from Chemnitz, Darmstadt and Dresden appear. 13.

Sometime after 1900, Halle an der Saale publisher Wilhelm Knapp took over the journal from Georg D.W. Callwey. By 1902, the title had been changed to Photographisches Central-Blatt. Additionally, Georg Aarland, a professor and head of the photographic and photo-mechanical departments at Leipzig’s Imperial Academy of Graphic Arts and Bookbinding (14) joined Matthies-Masuren and Franz Schiffner as editor.

Finally, in 1903, the decision had been made by Wilhelm Knapp to combine Photographisches Central-Blatt with their other journal, Photographische Rundschau, most likely for reasons of economy. Aarland was replaced by Rundschau editor Richard Neuhauss and Knapp issued the journal for 1903 using the same sequence of hand-pulled photogravure plates included with that years Photographische Rundschau, even retaining the Rundschau imprints on several of the gravure plates. (15) From 1904-1911, its new title became the Photographische Rundschau und Photographisches Centralblatt.

Our online Photographisches Centralblatt galleries include the majority of its photogravure supplements as well as other plates for 1898-1903.


1. Online Bibliographical entry #11598: PhotoColl: Bibliothek und Aufsatzdatenbank zur Photographie Collection Dr. R.H. Krauss
2. Josef Maria Eder: History of Photography: Translated by Edward Epstean: Columbia University Press: New York: 1945: p. 687
3. Prints: Photographisches Fehlerbuch: in: The Photogram and the Process Photogram: Edited by H. Snowden & Catherine Weed Ward: Dawbarn & Ward, Ltd.: London: Volume VII: 1900: p. 325
4. München — Das ›Photographische Centralblatt ‹: in: Kunstfotografie um 1900-Die Sammlung Fritz Matthies-Masuren 1873-1938: Christine Kühn: Staatliche Museen zu Berlin: 2003: p. 17
5. Ibid: p. 10
6. Ibid: p. 17
7. PhotoSeed Archive
8. Kunstfotografie um 1900: p. 17
9. PhotoSeed Archive
10. Schiffner biographical reference: from: lecture delivered on December 21, 1888: “Über photographische Messkunst”: in: Organ der Militär-wissenschaftlichen Vereine: volume XXXVII, 1889: Wien: Verlag des Militär-wissenschaftlichen Vereines: pp. 49-55
11.  Schiffner listing: in: Verordnungsblatt für den Dienstbereich des K. K. Ministeriums für Cultus und Unterricht: Jahrgang 1892: Wien: Verlag des k.k. Ministeriums für Cultus und Unterricht: p. clxiii
12. Symbolism and Pictorialism-The influence of Eugène Carrière’s Painting on Art Photography Around 1900: Ulrich Pohlmann: in: Impressionist Camera: Pictorial Photography in Europe, 1888-1918 : Merrell Publishers : 2006 : p. 87 
13. Inhalt: in: Photographisches Centralblatt: Zeitschrift für Künstlerische und Wissenschaftliche Photographie: Herausgeber und Leiter: Professor F. Schmidt-Karlsruhe i. B.: München: Verlag von Georg D.W. Callwey: IV Jahrg.: Heft 1: January, 1898.
14. Aarland obituary: in: The British Journal of Photography: Henry Greenwood & Co. : London: April 12, 1907: p. 282
15. Photographisches Central-blatt: Zeitschrift für Künstlerische und Wissenschaftliche Photographie: Redigiert von F. Matthies-Masuren- Halle a. S., Dr. R. Neuhauss-Gross- Lichterfelde O. und Prof. F. Schiffner-Wien: Druck und Verlag von Wilhelm Knapp: Halle a. S. 1903