Category Archives: photographs


Frank Hegger

Frank Hegger (ca. 1840-1903) was described by his daughter Grace (Mrs. Sinclair Lewis) as a “failed artist turned photographer.” On October 27, 1886, he became one of the first image distributor arrested by Anthony Comstock, Secretary of the New York Society for the Suppression of Vice, for selling obscene photographs.

Hegger was accused of selling “unmounted photographs” that were imported through the mails from Paris, described as “of the most obscene and filthy character. …one package contained 134 pictures, most of them from life, and I am satisfied from my investigation that there is a large amount of nude and obscene pictures imported by various dealers in the City of New York, …designed for artists [but]…distributed promiscuously.”–Amy Werbel, Lust on Trial: Censorship and the Rise of American Obscenity in the Age of Anthony Comstock (Columbia University Press, 2018).

Recognized for his superb carbon prints, Hegger did a fair amount of business with Adolphe Braun through his Paris offices. One package seized in the raid was addressed from that firm, possibly reproductions of works from the Louvre, where Braun held the sole license to photograph and circulate reproductions. These may have been the objectionable nudes. According to Werbel, “Comstock’s campaign to rid America of vice in fact led to greater acceptance of the materials he deemed objectionable.”

By 1890, all Hegger advertisements describe landscapes and architectural views, no portraiture, although men continued to line-up on the sidewalk to get into his shops at 152 Broadway and 288 Fifth Avenue, where prints as large as 4 x 3 feet were displayed and sold.

“Frank Hegger’s Photographic Depot, at 152 Broadway, is the best-known and most popular establishment of its kind in America. This spacious store is a magazine packed with everything that is choice in water-colors, etchings, engravings, photographs of every possible description, and unmounted views from all parts of the globe. “If you can’t get them at Hegger’s, you can’t get them in this country, ” is a well-deserved compliment and literally true.

Hegger’s is always abreast with the time, and the selections which continually replenish his stock are made with the taste and judgment of a man of travel and a knowledge of the best one sees as a traveler.  . . .The absence of the Hegger establishment from New York would leave an aching void to the eyes of thousands to whom his show-windows and portfolios are a perpetual source of intellectual refreshment and aesthetical delight.

The Broadway sidewalk is often blockaded by the throng attracted by his ever freshly renewed and ever novel and interesting displays, and brokers and business men, hot with the fever of mid-day business, break suddenly away from their drive for gain to “run in and see what Hegger has new,” and jostle grave[?] divines and college professors in their investigations of the huge sample books.”

King’s Handbook of New York City: An Outline History and Description of the American Metropolis (1892).152 Broadway, adjoining the N. E. corner of Liberty Street, showing Frank Hegger’s Photographic Depot, the best known and most popular establishment of its kind in its day. –New York Public Library “Old New York” 1883?

See also: Half a loaf by Grace Hegger Lewis (New York: H. Liveright, 1931). Fictionalized autobiographical account of the author’s marriage to Sinclair Lewis. ReCAP 3827.15.342

How light is scattered by the metallic nanoparticles on the surface of a daguerreotype determines the characteristics of its image, such as shade and color.

Andrea E. Schlather, Paul Gieri, Mike Robinson, Silvia A. Centeno, and Alejandro Manjavacas, “Nineteenth-century nanotechnology: The plasmonic properties of daguerreotypes” in PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences). Online first published June 10, 2019 Edited by Catherine J. Murphy, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Urbana, IL, and approved May 2, 2019.

As seen on various websites, The Metropolitan Museum of Art (The Met) and The University of New Mexico have announced groundbreaking new findings after a two-year study of the plasmonic properties of daguerreotypes. Using atomic force microscopy and scanning electron microscopy, together with numerical calculations, the team of scientists from The Met and UNM, in collaboration with Century Darkroom, Toronto was able to determine how the light scattered by the metallic nanoparticles on the surface of a daguerreotype determines the characteristics of its image, such as shade and color.

Daguerreotypes, among the earliest photographs of the 19th century, owe their incredible optical properties, image resolution, and dynamic range to light scattering produced by metallic nanostructures on their surface. Here we provide a detailed experimental and theoretical analysis on how the material composition, morphology, and dimensions of these nanostructures determine the characteristics of the daguerreotype image. Our results provide a scientific understanding of the unique optical effects of these artworks and therefore, in addition to providing valuable insight for developing preservation protocols, can inspire additional approaches for color printing, where nanostructures are directly manufactured by light.

Abstract: Plasmons, the collective oscillations of mobile electrons in metallic nanostructures, interact strongly with light and produce vivid colors, thus offering a new route to develop color printing technologies with improved durability and material simplicity compared with conventional pigments. Over the last decades, researchers in plasmonics have been devoted to manipulating the characteristics of metallic nanostructures to achieve unique and controlled optical effects. However, before plasmonic nanostructures became a science, they were an art. The invention of the daguerreotype was publicly announced in 1839 and is recognized as the earliest photographic technology that successfully captured an image from a camera, with resolution and clarity that remain impressive even by today’s standards. Here, using a unique combination of daguerreotype artistry and expertise, experimental nanoscale surface analysis, and electromagnetic simulations, we perform a comprehensive analysis of the plasmonic properties of these early photographs, which can be recognized as an example of plasmonic color printing. Despite the large variability in size, morphology, and material composition of the nanostructures on the surface of a daguerreotype, we are able to identify and characterize the general mechanisms that give rise to the optical response of daguerreotypes. Therefore, our results provide valuable knowledge to develop preservation protocols and color printing technologies inspired by past ones.

See also Mudd Library’s 2000 online exhibition of their historic Princeton daguerreotypes:

Ritos al Ras del Futuro

Anita Pouchard Serra, Ritos al ras del futuro: un intercambio de miradas sobre los Hijos de 2001, fotografias, Anita Pouchard Serra con Fernando Catz ([Argentina]: Milena Caserola, 2015). Graphic Arts collection GAX 2019- in process

The artist writes:

“This book, in its present form, is not destined to last very long. It is intended to break up to expand to other places chosen by the one who has it at this time in their hands. It is a contribution to the collective construction of memory and future from images and words of yesterday and today around the legacy of 2001, the Argentinian crisis.

It is also a sort of family album, a family adopted to the long of 4 years, found in the street, with whom I shared moments through the life and photography. …This photobook is also an object, made partly artisanal by the authors themselves. It aims to investigate new ways of presenting and sharing photography as well as new ways of thinking a book.

Therefore, each image is presented in 3 formats: An already written postcard that shares feelings and facts of 2001 and present. It is a direct message from the authors to the recipient; A postcard this time virgin so the recipient can share their ideas, memories and feelings to a close or known; and A sticker to paste in the public space or anywhere with wide white bands to receive the words that we want to share with the rest of our society.” —

[FOTOLIBRO] Rttos al ras del futuro / trailer from Los Ojos de Anita on Vimeo.

To enjoy other work by Anita Pouchard Serra, see:

A timeline of events leading up to the strike of 2001 in Argentina:


The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired Boundaries, a collaborative project between presidential inaugural poet Richard Blanco and contemporary landscape photographer Jacob Bond Hessler. The project was first presented at the Coral Gables Museum, Florida, in Fall 2017 where the exhibition was accompanied by a limited edition book published by Two Ponds Press in an edition of 300.

The prospectus states:

“Blanco’s poems and Hessler’s photographs together investigate the visible and invisible boundaries of race, gender, class, and ethnicity, among many others. Boundaries challenges the physical, imagined, and psychological dividing lines—both historic and current—that shadow America and perpetuate an us vs. them mindset by inciting irrational fears, hate, and prejudice.

In contrast to the current narrowing definition of an America with very clear-cut boundaries, Blanco and Hessler cross and erase borders. As artists, they tear down barriers to understanding by pushing boundaries and exposing them for what they truly are—fabrications for the sake of manifesting power and oppression pitted against our hopes of indeed becoming a boundary-less nation in a boundary-less world.”

Jacob Hessler is a fine art photographer specializing in the contemporary landscape. He is a graduate of the Brooks Institute of Photography, Santa Barbara, CA, and attended Parsons, The New School for Design, NYC. He lives in Camden, ME, and is represented by Dowling Walsh Gallery, Rockland, ME.

Richard Blanco is the fifth presidential inaugural poet in U.S. history—the youngest, first Latino, immigrant, and gay person to serve in such a role. Born in Madrid to Cuban exiled parents and raised in Miami, the negotiation of cultural identity and place characterize his body of work. In 2015, the Academy of American Poets named him its first Education Ambassador. Blanco lives in Bethel, ME.


Hulu Selam (Peace Only)

Peter Bogardus, Ba Suri A-Challi!! (New York: Khelcom Press, 2013). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process
Peter Bogardus, Meskel Demera (New York: Khelcom Press, 208). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

In 2012, Peter Bogardus was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in photography to “make limited-edition books that are handprinted, and include photogravures, text printed from metal type or xylographically, and sometimes color woodcuts.”

The application essay continues, “The photogravures I make from black-and-white photographs that I have taken in the field. The text in certain volumes is accomplished through collaboration, while in others I have composed it. Setting out on the course of an artistic career, I preferred to attend a liberal-arts college, in this case Hampshire. This allowed me a broad education in the humanities, ranging beyond fine art per se to such pursuits as anatomy, English literature, theology, and anthropology, all under the aegis of my tutor, Leonard Baskin, the coordinator of the “alembic” constituting artistic development.”

“… I returned to photography, the earliest artistic pursuit of my life, which I had studied under Nik Millhouse at St. Bernard’s School. Happily I was able to attend the International Center of Photography to learn about large-format and documentary photography, and then study photogravure with Lothar Osterberg and Jon Goodman, finally returning to the bookmaking I had begun at college. Living in New York has provided a great springboard for the research undertaken in Africa. Leaving the sanctuary of my studio with a camera and the hope to learn from other people and cultures has led to innumerable encounters, which have engendered the books made to date as well as the proposed volumes.”

As an early example of work, Bogardus provided Meskel Demera (2008), and proposed this as part one of a trilogy titled Hulu Selam (Peace Only) featuring different aspects of spiritual life in Ethiopia. Volume two of the trilogy, Ba Suri A-Challi!! came in 2013 thanks to the Guggenheim fellowship and number three is scheduled to appear late 2019 or early 2020.


Hulu Selam (Peace Only) is the title of a trilogy of hand-printed books inspired by spiritual life in Habesha, Ethiopia. The three major religions of Semitic origin came early to the only never-colonized nation of Africa. …Peter Bogardus has visited this mountainous land over the last twelve years…witnessing ritual gatherings and making photographs…”

A Western Gentleman

Thanks to the generosity of Alfred Bush, the Graphic Arts Collection has acquired a new quarter plate ambrotype, approximately 3.25 x 4.25 inches (8 x 11 cm), of a Western gentleman.

The vast majority of ambrotypes in the world are recorded as: Photographer unknown. Portrait of unidentified man. ca. 1880. Richard Benson noted in his exhibition catalogue The Printed Picture:

Most photographers who have worked in the darkroom are aware that negatives can sometimes appear as positives. Often we will lift an underexposed negative out of the fixer, disappointed that it is of insufficient density, and find that it suddenly appears as a positive. This occurs when the silver deposit is illuminated by the overhead light but we see it against a dark background, perhaps the old darkroom trays made of black rubber. The silver, which appears light gray, shows as a positive instead of a negative, since it is much lighter than the background against which we see it. This phenomenon was noticed early on, and some wet-plate photographers turned it to use by intentionally underexposing their plates, then coating the back of the glass with black paint. The resulting pictures—unique, direct-positive images— were called ambrotypes. Usually small, they were put in cases and entered the same market as the dying daguerreotype.

To hear Benson talk further on tintypes and ambrotypes, see:

Photographs of Caesar and unidentified young woman

The Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a 19th-century cased image of an unidentified woman that was sent through the mail. The ninth-plate ambrotype (2 1/2 x 2 inches) is a formal studio portrait of an African American woman with earrings and brooch hand-colored in gold. A note on the case reads: “Mr. Scroggins, Portsmouth Va., Box 1036,” crossed out to read “601” and stamped “ADVERTISED” by the dead-letter office. We presume the date to be late 1850s or early 1860s.

This portrait was delivered through the mail to a Virginia address, but was undeliverable, and marked “ADVERTISED” by the post office. It was found among other similar photographs from a dead-letter office. Was Mr. Scroggins a plantation owner being offered a new house slave or a free African American gentleman getting a picture of a family member? There are many potential connections: : The name Scroggin turns up in a note “secured” by Jno Scroggin to pay for the freedom of an enslaved man at Bellegrave Plantation, Virginia. Mr. Scroggin might have been active in securing the freedom of others.


The selection above is taken from Temple Tsenes-Hills, I Am the Utterance of My Name (2006), which tells the story of Frances Jane Scroggins, born enslaved in Virginia but emancipated. Might this be connected?

Might the portrait have some connection with this document [above] certifying the freedom of Matthew Scroggins? Not Virginia but also not far away. If you can help us with this intriguing story, please send your research suggestions or results.

The second cased image recently acquired by Graphic Arts has a named sitter:

This sixth-plate ambrotype is a formal studio photograph of Caesar, an officer’s servant near Washington. A small note traveling with the case reads: “W DeW Pringle body servant Caesar while serving in the Civil War, 1862.”

The dealer’s note provides additional research:

A sharp and striking portrait of an Army servant, very likely a freedman, taken during the early period of the war. Contrabands escaping to freedom did not yet have the option of military service before 1863, but often found employment as personal servants for army officers.

Caesar’s employer Lieutenant William DeWolf Pringle (1840-1930) of Lockport, NY, was chosen as an officer for the 22nd New York Light Artillery Battery in September of 1862, which became part of the 9th New York Heavy Artillery Regiment in early 1863; he served there through October 1864. His unit served on the defenses of Washington through May 1864, and then went out on the Overland and Shenandoah Valley campaigns.

His father Benjamin Pringle (1807-1887) has served two terms as a United States Congressman, and in 1863 was appointed by President Lincoln to serve as a judge in South Africa on a special court for prosecuting the international slave trade. After the war, Lieutenant Pringle was a lawyer in Hastings, Minnesota, near where this ambrotype was found.

Photo Book Show

Only one more day left to attend The Photography Show at Pier 94. The longest-running and foremost exhibition dedicated to the photographic medium, the Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD) has mounted the 39th edition of the show featuring nearly 100 of the world’s leading fine art photography galleries.

Each year the photobook portion of the show has grown larger and more international, including the U.S., Europe, Asia, Canada, Mexico, the Middle East, and South America. Book dealers, publishers, and photography-related organizations include:

10×10 Photobooks, New York
21st Editions, South Dennis, MA
AKIO NAGASAWA Gallery | Publishing, Tokyo
American Photography Archives Group, APAG, New York
Aperture Foundation, New York
Artbook | D.A.P., New York
Benrido, Kyoto
Brilliant Graphics, Exton, PA
Candor Arts, Chicago, IL
Citizen Editions, Brooklyn, NY
Conveyor Editions, Jersey City, NJ

DAMIANI, Bologna, Italy
Daylight Books, Durham, NC
Dust Collective, Stow, MA
GOST Books, London
Harper’s Books, East Hampton, NY
KOMIYAMA TOKYO, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo
KGP – Kris Graves Projects, Long Island City, NY
L’Artiere, Bologna, Italy
Light Work, Syracuse, NY
MACK, London
Minor Matters Books, Seattle, WA
Nazraeli Press, Paso Robles, CA
photo-eye, Santa Fe, NM
Photograph Magazine, New York
Saint Lucy Books, Baltimore, MD
SUPER LABO, Kamakura, Kanagawa, Japan
Steidl Publishers, Göttingen, Germany
TBW Books, Oakland, CA
The Classic, Arnaville, France
TIS Books, Brooklyn, NY
Yoffy Press, Atlanta, GA
Zatara Press, Richmond, VA

American War Information Unit, 1945

KZ: Bildbericht aus fünf Konzentrationslagern Amerikanisches Kriegsinformationsamt (S.l.: American War Information Unit, no date [1945]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

One of the earliest reports and the first published by the United States Army on the horrors of Nazi concentration camps, this fragile pamphlet offers eyewitness accounts of American and British troops after the liberation of Buchenwald, Belsen, Gardelegen, Nordhausen and Ohrdruf.

KZ was distributed in Germany by the Psychological Warfare Division of the American War Information Unit (Amerikanischen Kriegsinformationsamt im Auftrag der Oberbefehlshaber der Aliierten Streitkräfte) at the end of the war in order to convey the enormity of the crimes committed under the Nazi regime. Despite wide circulation, relatively few copies remain and so, it is important that one has now entered the Graphic Arts Collection.

These photographs are reported to have played an important role as evidence in the Nuremberg Trials. Note, only a few pages have been posted here due to the horrific content depicted.


Talbot database finished


A few days ago Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s librarian at Oxford University, announced the conclusion of a six-year project to produce the William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné. The database is now open and 18,177 records available at:
Included are Talbot photographs from the Graphic Arts Collection and the Princeton University Art Museum. Thanks especially to Squirrel Walsh, Special Collections Assistant IV, and to Roel Munoz, Library Digital Imaging Manager who helped to make our contribution possible.

The database also has a biography and other information. Here’s piece from “Talbot VS Fox Talbot”:

There is every indication that the form of address of ‘Fox Talbot’ was not warmly embraced by the subject himself. In 1823, Henry wrote to his mother from Naples that “I observe you always direct to me Fox Talbot by way of discrimination, but it does rather the contrary. For, the letters are here distributed from different windows, according to the different letters of the Alphabet, and the other day I found no letter for me under T, and accordingly asked for letters for Mr Fox when they immediately produced one from you”. Further evidence that Henry himself had little enthusiasm for ‘Fox’ is revealed in an a letter of 1842 to his mother on the birth of his only son: “You know we had fixed on the name Charles Henry, but if you wish it we can make it C.H.F.T. Constance says she is quite willing.” Even the reluctant offer to incorporate the F. here was not what it appears. It was not a reference to Fox, but rather a homage to his beloved late step-father, Admiral Charles Feilding.