Category Archives: photographs


Taxiphote glass stereoviews

Thanks to Rubén Gallo, Walter S. Carpenter, Jr., Professor in Language, Literature, and Civilization of Spain at Princeton University, the Graphic Arts Collection recently acquired a Taxiphote Stereo-Classeur (French stereo viewer).

Today we received approximately 244 glass stereoviews, housed in four wood drawers, to put inside and use with the viewer. Each drawer holds four cassettes of the fragile slides.  Most are Swiss landscapes and tourist views but some are portraits. A few also have labels, dated as early as 1902. Here is a sample:




The First Photography Book

On the occasion of the exhibition Blue Prints: the Pioneering Photographs of Anna Atkins (1799-1871), The New York Public Library invited distinguished scholars in the fields of photography, conservation, natural history, and rare books to discuss her photography and its resonance. During today’s symposium panelists and speakers discussed the broader context in which she created her momentous production, as well as characteristics unique to Atkins’s pioneering work.

Participants included Joshua Chuang, Miriam & Ira D. Wallach Associate Director for Art, Prints and Photographs, and The Robert B. Menschel Senior Curator of Photography, NYPL; Rose Teanby, Independent historian, Associate of the Royal Photographic Society; Richard Ovenden, Bodley’s Librarian, Bodleian Library, Oxford; Steffen Siegel, Professor, Folkwang University of Arts, Essen; Jessica McDonald, Curator of Photography, Harry Ransom Center; Mary Oey, Head of Conservation and Collections Care, NYPL; Jessica Keister, Associate Conservator for Photographs, NYPL; Kenneth Karol, Curator, Cullman Program for Molecular Systematics, New York Botanical Garden; Normand Trudel, Librarian for Rare Books, University of Montreal; Alice Lemaire, Conservator, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Paris; Nancy Barr, Curator of Photographs, Detroit Institute of Arts; and Julia Van Haaften, founding Curator, Photography Collection, NYPL. Few institutions hold either parts or a complete set of Photographs of British Algae and so, we are all grateful that NYPL has digitized their copy.

Speakers all agreed that Anna Atkins’ role in the narrative of early photography has been acknowledged only within the last 40 years. Since the publication of Larry J. Schaaf’s Sun Gardens: Victorian Photograms by Anna Atkins, [Marquand Oversize TR688 .S32q] scholars have built on this groundbreaking research and fortified the larger context of her work.

Although now famous for being the first book produced with photographic illustrations, Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions has been viewed as an artwork, a scientific document, a rare book, and more.

We now call Atkins the first female photographer. Although women were not allowed to join The Royal Society of London, Atkins contributed three volumes to the Society containing 433 photographic images in 1843, preceding William Henry Fox Talbot’s Pencil of Nature, published in 1844.

One of many interesting observations made today was the presences of blue dyed paper as a support for photographs throughout the 19th century, including work by Julia Margaret Cameron [left]. Ovenden noted the trouble with impurities in papers that could be easily concealed under the blue coloring.





Atkins’ photographic images were created as an accompaniment to William Henry Harvey’s 1841 guide entitled British Algae [Recap 8753.436], which had no illustrations. The two volumes are meant to be read side–by-side, Atkins’ images faithfully corresponding with Harvey’s survey.

Peter Coffin’s Spiral Rainbow

The spiral as a conceptual archetype is a recurring theme in the work of the American artist Peter Coffin, such as in his 2006 commission for Peter Norton’s annual Christmas gifts. Taking the format of a common photograph album, Coffin organized a series of postcards depicting rainbows into a three-dimensional spiral forming one enormous rainbow. As you open this volume, the constellation of cards expands in an upward swirl of color and form.

The artist commented, “There is a tendency to clutter things up, to try and make sure people know something is art, when all that’s necessary is to present it, to leave it alone. I think the hardest thing to do is to present an idea in the most straightforward way. I think it was Jasper Johns who said that, “[It’s] sometimes necessary to state the obvious.” Still, how to proceed is always the mystery. I remember at one point thinking that someday I would figure out how to do this, how you do art — like “What’s the procedure here, folks?” — and then it wouldn’t be such a struggle anymore. Later I realized I would never have a specific process; I would have to re-invent it, over and over again.”

The Coffin project is the gift of James Welling, Lecturer with the rank of Professor in the Visual Arts program in the Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. In turn, it was the gift of the Peter Norton Family, who each year commission a work of art to celebrate the holiday season.

Peter Coffin (born 1972), Norton Family Christmas Project ([Santa Monica, Calif.]: [Peter Norton Family], [2006]). 1 photograph album. Gift of James Welling. Graphic Arts Collection in process.

The Pencil of Nature

Princeton has just added our superb copy of William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature, a gift of David H. McAlpin, class of 1920, to our other Talbot prints included in the William Henry Fox Talbot Catalogue Raisonné, begun by Larry Schaaf and now based at Oxford’s Bodleian Libraries. The entire volume,, can be viewed and downloaded for study around the world. This copy has the bookplate of William Twopeny, and the property stamp of the New York City Camera Club Library (catalogued & indexed 1930 by Hal. D. Bernstein, librarian), which was purchased and given to Princeton University by McAlpin.

William Twopeny (printmaker; painter/draughtsman; British; Male; 1797-1873). Twopeny, not Twopenny. Lawyer; amateur antiquarian draughtsman and printmaker, specialising in architectural subjects. A very large collection of his drawings was given to the BM in 1874 by Edward Twopeny, his son: see 1874,0214.104 to 1937 and Binyon IV pp.214-43. For Twopeny’s own catalogue see two volumes in the P&D library. See also a letter dated March 10th 1845 from Albert Way (q.v.) in which he refers to Mr Twopenny of [Lambs] building living at Inner Temple (archives of Department of Britain, Europe and Prehistory)–British Museum

Stories in stereo

Unidentified photographer, The Ghost in the Stereoscope, ca. 1865. Published by the London Stereoscope and Photographic Company after a suggestion by Sir David Brewster. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Title: “Kindly suggested by Sir David Brewster, K. H. [entered at Stationers’ Hall” on verso. A dramatic view of the late Mr Stubbs haunting the new occupant of his house. The graffiti on the walls reads: “Mr Stubbs his cottage his picter” and “Mr Stubbs erd.” Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process


The Graphic Arts Collection has acquired several British stereoviews, each providing a narrative through a single 3D image. Some relate to major literary sources and others minor stories. Here are some examples:


[below] Unidentified photographer, Gambler’s Ghost, ca. 1865. Published by the London Stereoscope and Photographic Company. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

[Above] Alfred Silvester, Little Nell. Vide – ‘Old Curiosity Shop’ by Charles Dickens, 1870s-1880s. Two albumen prints in stereo-format. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process


[Below] Unidentified photographer, Haidee and Juan, Canto 2nd, 1870s-1880s. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Titled on small printed label pasted to verso with copyright note:  A passionate moment between Juan and the pirate’s daughter Haidée, before she dies of a broken heart and Don Juan is sold into slavery. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

Daniel Defoe (1661?-1731), The Life and Strange Adventures of Robinson Crusoe of York, Mariner: Who Lived Eight and Twenty Years Alone in an Uninhated [Sic] Island On the Coast of America, Near the Mouth of the Great River Oroonoque: Having Been Cast on Shore by Shipwreck, Wherein All the Men Perished But Himself: With an Account How He Was At Last Strangely Delivered By Pyrates Written By Himself ([London: s.n.], 1719-[1720]). RHT Oversize 18th-955

Lake Price, Robinson Crusoe and Friday, 1870s-1880s Two albumen prints, hand-tinted, in stereo-format. Title and credit on printed label pasted to verso, with Dublin art shop ‘Lesage’ label on verso. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process



Sir John Everett Millais Bt PRA (1829-96), My Second Sermon, 1864. Oil on canvas. Guildhall Art Gallery, London.


[below] After Sir John Everett Millais (1829-1896), Unidentified photographer. First time at Church. The Litany, no date [after 1864]. Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process

[Above] Unidentified photographer, Cinderella and her Godmother, 1870s-1880s Two albumen prints in stereo-format, hand-tinted. Graphic Arts Collection GAX in process



Photography albums and scrapbooks of Mexico
Twenty-five boxes of Mexican ephemera were acquired several years ago with a wide variety of materials included. A recent request for the photography albums and scrapbooks has led to the individual cataloguing of these unique, unpublished items (in process). The images include such diversity of commercial and personal photography, along with stamps, labels, souvenirs, brochures, and other ephemeral material, many with handwritten captions, that a few quick images were captured here.

Todd Heisler’s 24-column photo-essay

For those who only read the New York Times online, you missed the massive photo-essay on Sunday by NYTs staff photographer Todd Heisler. Two gatefolds open onto a 48 inch, 24 column double-sided spread entitled “This Space Available” with text by Corey Kilgannon. Don’t look for it, the piece will not appear digitally until later this week (according to instagram). Go to the local newsstand and see if they have any leftover or check your neighbor’s porch if they were away for the weekend.

Editor, Diego Ribadeneira; Visual editors, Jeffrey Furticella, Andrew Hinderaker, and Meghan Louttit; Design, Wayne Kamidoi.

Biblia / Pietá

Biblia/Pietá originated from a performance art piece that took place in the Instituto Francés de Cultura (French Institute of Culture) in Santiago, Chile, during May 1982, created by Juan Domingo Dávila, Carlos Leppe, and the critic Nelly Richard. The event was recorded in photographs by Julia Toro Donoso and republished last year in a limited edition box set, recently acquired thanks to funds provided by the Program in Latin American Studies (PLAS). Special thanks go to Professor Javier Guerrero, Department of Spanish and Portuguese and Chair of the Section on Venezuelan Studies of LASA, who discovered this rare surviving box.

Biblia/Pietá contains the text by Carlos Leppe María Dávila on a 15 mm acrylate plate; a facsimile edition of the article in Art & Text, along with the translation by Patricio Marchant; and eleven signed photographs on rag paper.

“The performance consisted of a staging of La Pietá with inverted gender roles, where Dávila represented the Virgin and Richard died Jesus Christ; Leppe, meanwhile, enters the scene dressed in a suit and tie, but with face makeup and false eyelashes. Leppe washes his face and lights a projection of a video where the scene of La Pietá is repeated, but this time with two men. While the video is being shown, Leppe reads aloud a text about his position on Chilean art.”

For more, see:

Curtis in Alaska

While Edward Curtis (1868-1952) is best remembered for his 2,200 photogravures (ink prints from photographic negatives) published in the 20 volume set, The North America Indian, he began publishing his photographs with images from the Alaskan/Yukon Gold Rush of 1897, and more importantly, as one of the official photographers on E.H. Harriman’s Alaskan expedition of 1899. It was through the Harriman project that Curtis was introduced to the master printers at John Andrew and Son in Boston, who transformed his glass positives into rich aquatinted photogravures. Curtis went on to enlist their services again with his own mammoth series.

When Curtis knew them, the engraving firm was in its thirtieth year, run by John’s son George Theodore Andrew (1843-1934) and their technical skill made it worth the cross-country shipping. Although the scale of the Alaska prints does not compare with the prints in The North American Indian, many of the photogravures in Alaska are equally rich in detail and texture.

The Harriman Expedition to Alaska was the last great 19th-century survey of the North American frontier…

Curtis’ relationship with Harriman, Robert Grinnel, a leading ethnographic expert on Native Americans and other members of the party had a great influence on the rest of his life. After a trip of nine thousand miles the party returned with five thousand pictures and over six hundred animal and plant species new to science. New glaciers were mapped and photographed and a new fjord was discovered. Curtis photographed many of the glaciers, but it was his Indian pictures on this trip that established his artistic genius. Curtis produced a souvenir album of photographs for the participants.

Harriman Alaska Expedition (1899), Alaska… (New York: Doubleday, Page & Company, 1901). “Advertisement. The publication of the series of volumes on the Harriman Alaska Expedition of 1899, heretofore privately printed, has been transferred to the Smithsonian institution by Mrs. Edward H. Harriman, and the work will hereafter be known as the Harriman Alaska series of the Smithsonian institution. The remainder of the edition of volumes I to V, and VIII to XIII, as also volumes VI and VII in preparation, together with any additional volumes that may hereafter appear, will bear special Smithsonian title pages. Smithsonian institution … July, 1910.” ReCAP WA Q115 .H2 1901


Epigraph: He was not unlike a traveler walking into a landscape which may prove mirage.—from Patrick White, Riders in the Chariot.

“The Staglieno cemetery near Genoa was created in the 19th century. It is home not only to those whose bones lie buried beneath, but also to the splendidly ornate display of sculptures erected in their memory. Carved from inanimate lumps of stone, these memorials have become more than the monumental tributes they were originally commissioned to be. Now feathered with a gentle coat of dust, each appears to have taken on a life of its own and out of the melancholy of death comes the comforting notion of a presence that will remain.”—Nazreali Press.

In 2002, a bound volume of Lee Friedlander’s photographs taken in the Staglieno cemetery was published in an edition of 2,000 copies. The duotones were printed by Oceanic Graphics in China and released by Nazraeli Press in Tucson, Arizona. Peter Galassi, former Chief Curator, Department of Photography, MoMA, wrote in the foreword, “Photography likes sculpture. It likes to see how things look from different angles, especially things that don’t move. It likes light falling on surfaces and the way the two become one in the picture. . . . Above all, it likes the way photography, which makes living figures still, awakens figures frozen in stone.” – [Marquand recap Oversize TR658.3 .F75 2002q]

The following year, a special limited edition portfolio of 15 photogravures from the Staglieno series negatives was produced at the LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, New York. The Graphic Arts Collection is fortunate to have acquired copy 10 of the edition of 25 portfolios.

Housed in a red velvet-covered clamshell case with the title embossed in silver, it is a tour-de-force of photographic capture together with expert copperplate printing. Master printer Lothar Osterburg created the copper plates and printed the edition with the assistance of students at the School of the Arts at Columbia University. Each print is signed and titled Staglieno Cemetery, Genoa, Italy.



Lee Friedlander, born in 1934, began photographing the American social landscape in 1948. He was the first photographer to receive the MacDowell Medal for Lifetime Achievement in the Arts (1986), and in 1990 he received a John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award. His photographs are included in major museum collection around the world and there are multiple websites dedicated to his life and work. See:
; and many others.

Lee Friedlander: Staglieno (New York: LeRoy Neiman Center for Print Studies at the School of the Arts at Columbia University, 2003). Photogravures by Lothar Osterburg from negatives by Lee Friedlander. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2018- in process