Category Archives: photographs

photographs

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:

https://bellegrove.org/about/enslaved : 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
STANLEY/BARKER, Shropshire, UK
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: https://talbot.bodleian.ox.ac.uk/
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.

Die Blumen-Monde

Carl, Count Brandis, Die Blumen-Monde. Zwölf Blumen-Bilder nach der Natur photographirt von Carl Grafen Brandis; mit Original-Dichtungen von Felix Dahn, dessen Gemalin und Schwester. [The Flower Months. Twelve Flower Pictures Photographed from Nature with Poems by Felix Dahn, his Wife and his Sister] (Wien: Lechner [1891]). Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process


While a member of the Amateur Photography Club of Vienna, Carl Brandis prepared 13 heliogravures (including title page) on chine-collé for the Viennese publisher and university bookseller Rudolf Lechner (1822-1895).

Although they appear to be a trompe-l’œil trick, each still life is taken ‘from nature’ with flowers, ferns, and grasses arranged to frame a letterpress poem by Felix Dahn (1834-1912). One arrangement for each month of the year. The loose plates are housed in an elaborate publisher’s cloth portfolio approximately 2 ft tall (64 x 49.5 cm).

In 1893, Brandis received favorable notices for his still-life photography at a Salzburg exhibition, but no other mentions of the artist survive.

Felix Dahn was a German law professor, author, poet and historian. His wife, Therese von Droste-Hülshoff (1845-1929), was also a writer, and a relative of the poet Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. Dahn’s sister Constanze von Bomhard (1846–1933) was a writer, too, publishing under the pseudonym C. Hirundo.

Exhibition of the Salzburg Amateur Club. On 15 June, it was solemnly inaugurated by Sr. Kaiser Highness Archduke Ferdinand IV, Grand Duke of Toscana, and surprised the arrangement with its elegance, richness and many really excellent pictures. . . .The number of pictures exhibited is 2000, and since we have only a modest selection here, it may be considered which gigantic production corresponds to this collection. …We can confine ourselves here only to the most outstanding exhibits, and there deserve mention. …; Count C. Brandis with still life. – Photographische Korrespondenz, 30 1893

 

The House Beautiful

William C. Gannett (1840-1923) and Frank Lloyd Wright (1867-1959), The House Beautiful (River Forest, Ill.: Auvergne Press, 1896-1898). Printed by William Herman Winslow. Copy 71 of 90. Graphic Arts Collection GAX 2019- in process

“In a setting designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and printed by hand at the Auvergne Press in River Forest by William Herman Winslow and Frank Lloyd Wright during the winter months of the year eighteen hundred ninety six and seven.” Includes a brochure sewn to 1st front fly-leaf containing 12 collotypes [not photogravure] of dried weeds. Completed at the end of 1898. Cf. Mary Jane Hamilton, Frank Lloyd Wright and the book arts, 1993.

“In 1895 the Auvergne Press … printed its first book, an edition of Keats’s The Eve of St. Agnes, for which [Frank Lloyd] Wright designed the title page. They then set to work on a second, Wright contributing photographic studies of dried weeds and several pen-and-ink designs of highly stylized flower patterns. The book’s title was The House Beautiful, a reprint of a sermon by William C. Gannett, editor of Unity and close friend of Jenkin Lloyd Jones. Gannett’s account of the construction of the Lloyd Jones family church made the first public mention of the family’s “boy architect.” Gannett’s sermon is not inspired, but his title was most up-to-date and symbolic, echoing as it did the central concern of the Arts and Crafts Movement.”

“The chance to experiment in a new field was obviously a great lure for Wright, but what seems to have meant most to him was the importance of the message being put forward by this old friend of his family, one that he could ‘clothe with chastity,’ as he noted in the book itself. Later, he explained to Gannett, ‘its [sic] good to catch a glimpse sometimes of what the world will be like when cultivation has mellowed harshness and gentle unselfishness is the rule of life.’” –Meryle Secrest, Frank Lloyd Wright: A Biography (1998).

Profile portraiture

James Craig Annan (1864-1946), Janet Burnet, 1907. Photogravure. Graphic Arts Collection GA2018- in process

The full profile is among the oldest and most enduring forms of portraiture. Ancestors include Egyptian bas-relief figures and Roman coins. During the Renaissance, the stoic profile portrait modeled on antiquities enjoyed a brief vogue and again, in the late 19th-early 20th centuries, artists used the stark profile against a flat background to emphasize form over personality.

As early photographers struggled to place their work in a traditional art historical context, these formal poses were adopted by several ateliers, in particular members of the London Brotherhood of the Linked Ring. The individuality of each paper print, most often finished in photogravure, was emphasized over the individuality of the sitter. One person or another might be substituted in the chair as long as the surface and the texture of the page was unique, and the light and shadows fell on the paper with perfection.

Here are a few others in this tradition.

Edward Steichen (1879-1973), George Frederic Watts, 1900. Photogravure. National Portrait Gallery, London.

 

 

David Octavius Hill (1802–1870) and Robert Adamson (1821–1848), Mrs. Rigby, 1843–47. Salted paper print from paper negative. Getty Museum

 

Detail: James Abbott McNeill Whistler, Arrangement in Grey and Black No.1 [Whistler’s Mother], 1871. Musée d’Orsay

 

 

Antonio del Pollaiolo (1429–1498), Profile Portrait of a Young Lady, ca 1465. Gemäldegalerie der Staatlichen Museen zu Berlin

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

https://www.nypl.org/events/exhibitions/blue-prints-pioneering-photographs-anna-atkins

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.

 

https://digitalcollections.nypl.org/collections/photographs-of-british-algae-cyanotype-impressions?keywords=#/?tab=navigation 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.