William Stillman Disappears

[above] William James Stillman (1828-1901), Athens, ca. 1869. Albumen silver prints. Graphic Arts Collection GA 2008.00003. Funds provided by the Friends of the Princeton University Library.

[below] William James Stillman (1828-1901), The Acropolis of Athens (London: Printed by the Autotype Company for F.S. Ellis. 1870. Carbon prints. Graphic Arts Collection 2015-0062E. A joint purchase and gift from the Program in Hellenic Studies with the support of the Stanley J. Seeger Hellenic Fund and matching funds provided by a gift of The Orpheus Trust to the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, in honor of the 35th anniversary of Hellenic Studies at Princeton. Additional funds provided by the Friends of the Princeton University Library.Stillman-012a

Thanks to a recent photography request, we noticed that the 19th-century photographer William Stillman used his own figure in the preparatory albumen silver print of the eastern portico of the Parthenon, view looking northward, and showing Mount Parnes in the extreme distance. But when the carbon print was finalized and published in his book The Acropolis of Athens the next year, the figure is no longer included in the picture.

Perhaps he felt it was a distraction from the beauty of the architect? No matter the reason, the earlier albumen silver print has become one of the most loved of Stillman’s photographs.