TIMELINE OF WORLD HISTORY
 

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  History of photography

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CONTENTS
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History of photography
 
 
     
Abbe James
ABBOTT BERENICE
ADAMS ANSEL
Allen Albert
ARBUS DIANE
ATGET EUGENE
AVEDON RICHARD
Bailey David
BEATO FELICE

Beaton Cecil
BELLOCQ E. J.
BING ILSE  
BLOSSFELDT KARL
BLUMENFELD ERWIN
BOURKE-WHITE
BRADY MATHEW
BRANDT BILL
BRASSAI
BRAVO MANUEL
CALLAHAN HARRY
CAMERON JULIA
CLERGUE LUCIEN
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
     
DOISNEAU ROBERT
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
DUNCAN DOUGLAS
Eisenstaedt Alfred
EVANS WALKER
Feininger  Andreas
FRISSELL TONI
GENTHE ARNOLD
     
Halsman Philippe
HAUSMANN RAOUL
Heartfield John
HINE LEWIS
Horst P. Horst
KARSH YOUSUF
Kasebier Gertrude
KERTESZ ANDRE
Kirkland Douglas
KLEIN WILLIAM
KOUDELKA JOSEF
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John

 

     
Maar Dora
Man Ray
McBEAN ANGUS
MEYER ADOLF

Miller Lee
MODOTTI TINA
MOHOLY-NAGY LAZLO
Munkacsi Martin
MURAY NICKOLAS
MUYBRIDGE EADWEARD
NADAR
NEWMAN ARNOLD

 

Outerbridge Paul
     
PARKS GORDON

 

REJLANDER OSCAR
RIIS JACOB
ROBINSON HENRY
Rodchenko Alexander
SANDER AUGUST
SHERMAN CINDY
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
STEICHEN EDWARD
STIEGLITZ ALFRED
     
Tabard Maurice
TEIGE KAREL
UELSMANN JERRY VALLOU DE VILLENEUVE JULIEN
     
  Watson Albert
WEEGEE (ARTHUR FELLIG)
WESTON EDWARD
 
     
 
 
SOCIAL DOCUMENTATION

The recognition of the power of photography to persuade and inform led to a form of documentary photography known as social documentation, or social photography. The origins of the genre can be traced to the classic sociological study issued by Henry Mayhew in 1851, London Labour and the London Poor, although this was illustrated with drawings partly copied from daguerreotypes by Richard Beard and not actual photos. A later effort, Street Life in London (1877), by Adolphe Smith and John Thomson, included facsimile reproductions of Thomson’s photographs and produced a much more persuasive picture of life among London’s working class. Thomson’s images were reproduced by Woodburytype, a process that resulted in exact, permanent prints but was costly because it required hand mounting for each individual print. This pursuit was continued by John Barnardo, who, beginning in the 1870s, photographed homeless children in London for the purpose of both record keeping and fund-raising and thus fulfilled the double objectives of social documentation: capturing theoretically objective description and arousing sympathy. The “before” and “after” images used by Barnardo to demonstrate the efficacy of social intervention became a convention in social documentation. It was taken up to good effect by the Indian photographer Raja Lala Deen Dayal, especially in his documentation of the good works undertaken by the nizam of Hyderabad in the late 19th century. In 1877 Thomas Annan began a project in Edinburgh in which he used the camera to record the need for new housing for the working poor. He concentrated mainly on the derelict buildings and sewerage systems rather than on the inhabitants; eventually the images were collected for their artistic merit rather than their social use.

Social documentation became more focused in the work of Jacob A. Riis, a police reporter in New York City in the 1880s who spent about four years depicting slum life. Employing cameramen at first, Riis eventually learned the rudiments of the medium so that he could himself portray the living and working conditions of immigrants whose social circumstances, he believed, led to crime and dissolution. Reproduced by the recently developed halftone process, the photographs and drawings based on them illustrated How the Other Half Lives (1890), Riis’s first book about immigrant life. They also were turned into positive transparencies—slides—to illustrate Riis’s lectures, which were aimed at a largely middle-class audience, some of whom were said to have fainted at the sight of the conditions the images documented. Able to convince the progressive reformers of the time of the need for change, Riis’s work was instrumental in effecting slum-clearance projects in New York.

In European countries especially, there was also an awakened interest in documenting social customs during this period. Sometimes this meant recording those European customs that were being replaced by advancing industrialization. This interest led to the establishment of photographic archives, such as the National Photographic Record Association, set up in the mid-1890s by Benjamin Stone, a British member of Parliament. Left to the city of Birmingham, the collection included photographs taken by Stone and others of vanishing local customs. Other times this led to an interest in the particularities of dress and custom of those living in distant regions. William Carrick, a Scotsman, portrayed daily life in Russia. In addition to portraying nature and artifacts, John Thomson, Felice Beato, and Samuel Bourne also depicted indigenous peoples in China and India. In 1888 the journal National Geographic, which produced photographic accounts of cultures throughout the world, was established.

 
 
Jacob A. Riis
Jacob A. Riis, in full Jacob August Riis (born May 3, 1849, Ribe, Denmark—died May 26, 1914, Barre, Massachusetts, U.S.), American newspaper reporter, social reformer, and photographer who, with his book How the Other Half Lives (1890), shocked the conscience of his readers with factual descriptions of slum conditions in New York City.

Riis immigrated to the United States at the age of 21 and held various jobs, gaining a firsthand acquaintance with the ragged underside of city life. In 1873 he became a police reporter, assigned to New York City’s Lower East Side, where he found that in some tenements the infant death rate was one in 10.

By the late 1880s, Riis had begun photographing the interiors and exteriors of New York slums with a flash lamp. Those photos are early examples of flashbulb photography. Riis used the images to dramatize his lectures and books, and the engravings of those photographs that were used in How the Other Half Lives helped to make the book popular. But it was Riis’s revelations and writing style that ensured a wide readership: his story, he wrote in the book’s introduction, “is dark enough, drawn from the plain public records, to send a chill to any heart.” Theodore Roosevelt, who would be elected U.S. president in 1900, responded personally to Riis: “I have read your book, and I have come to help.” The book’s success made Riis famous, and How the Other Half Lives stimulated the first significant New York legislation to curb tenement house evils. It also became an important predecessor to the muckraking journalism that took shape in the United States after 1900.

Of Riis’s many other books, the most noteworthy is his autobiography, The Making of an American (1901).



Bandit's Roost (1888) by Jacob Riis, from How the Other Half Lives. This image is Bandit's Roost at 59½ Mulberry Street, considered the most crime-ridden, dangerous part of New York City.

 
 
 
 
 
DOCUMENTATION OBJECTS AND EVENTS
 

NEARLY ALL CAMERA IMAGES that deal with what exists in the world may be considered documents in some sense, but the term documentation has come to refer to pictures taken with an intent to inform rather than to inspire or to express personal feelings (though, of course, such images may answer these needs, too). The materialistic outlook of the industrialized peoples of the 19th century, their emphasis on the study of natural forces and social relation-ships, and their quest for empire promoted the photo-graphic document as a relatively unproblematical means of expanding knowledge of the visible world. Depictions of topography and architecture (addressed in the previous chapter); of the physical transformation of city and country-side; of wars, uprisings, revolutions, and natural disasters; of sociological and medical conditions and oddities—all were considered by intellectuals, scientists, artists, and the generis public to be eminently suitable themes for camera images. The photograph was regarded as an exemplary record because it was thought to provide an objective—that is, unaltered—view of solid fact and achievement. This faith in the capacity of light to inscribe truth on a sensitized plate, which lay behind the acceptance of camera documentation, was given its most persuasive verbal argument by the American Oliver Wendell Holmes, whose contributions to the popularization of stereography have been mentioned earlier. Suggesting that the "perfect photo-graph is absolutely inexhaustible," because in theory everything that exists in nature will be present in the camera image (in itself a dubious statement), Holmes also felt that incidental truths, missed by participants in the actual event, would be captured by the photograph and, in fact, might turn out to be of greater significance. As "form divorced from matter" but mirroring truth, documentary photographs were believed to be such accurate catalogs of fact that they were surrogates of reality. Specific temporal meanings might be obscure, contextual relationships unexplained, but these images, which by a miracle of technology had found their way into stereo-scopes and picture albums far removed in time and place from die actual object or event, increasingly became the data to which the public turned for knowledge of complex utructures and occurrences. According to the American art historian William M. Ivins, Jr., "The nineteenth century began by believing that what was reasonable- was true, and it wound up by believing that what it saw a photograph of, was true."

The need for pictorial documentation had been recognized even before the invention of photography. In the 1830s and '40s, publishers of periodicals in Europe sought to enliven informational texts with graphic illustrations directed to a diversified mass audience. The Penny Magazine, an early starter in London, was followed by the Illustrated London News, L'Illustration in Paris, Illttstrierte Zeitung in Leipzig, and, in the United States, Harper's Weekly and Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. To make good their promise to present a living and moving panorama of the world's activities and events, these journals began in the 1850s to use the photographic document as a basis for graphic imagery. The need to translate photographs quickly into wood engravings to meet publication deadlines led to the practice of dividing up an illustration into sections and farming out the parts to a number of woodblock engravers, after which the pieces were reassembled into a unified block for printing. In 1857, George N. Barnard invented a process whereby the collodion negative could be printed directly onto the block, bypassing the artist's drawing and incidentally substituting a more realistic facture, which the engraver then endeavored to represent. Until the 1890s, when the printing industry began to use the process halftone plate, documentation based on photographs reached the public in several forms—as original albumen, carbon, or Woodbury-type prints (stereograph and other formats), as lantern slides, or transformed by engravers and lithographers into graphic illustrations for the publishing industry.

Photographic documentation might be commissioned by the government (primarily in France and the United States), by private companies and individuals, or by publishers. Albumen prints, more sharply defined and easier to produce in large numbers than calotypes, were organized into presentation albums made up for selected individuals and governing bodies, while thousands upon thousands of stereographs reached mass audiences through the sale and distribution activities of companies such as T. & E. Anthony in New York, the Langenheim brothers' American Stereoscopic Company in Philadelphia, the London Stereoscopic and Photographic Company, Gaudin in Paris, and Loescher and Petsch in Germany.

Camera Documentation: Industrial Development

"Objective" documentation by camera coincided with the physical transformation of industrialized countries during the mid-i9th century. The role played by photography in the campaign to restore the architectural patrimony of France has been mentioned, but, in addition, images were commissioned to show the demolition and reconstruction of urban areas, the erection of bridges and monuments, and the building of transportation facilities and roads. The industrial expositions and fairs that were mounted every several years in Britain, France, and the United States during this period both symbolized and displayed the physical changes made possible by new technologies and new materials, which were contrasted with the exotic products of underdeveloped nations. The directors of the first important exposition, at the Crystal Palace in London in 1851— the Great Exhibition—were eager to document the event as well as to display camera equipment and pictures, but the insufficiencies of Talbot's calotype process limited the effort to a visual catalog of the exhibits, which was included in Report by the Juries. However, shortly after the decision was made to rebuild the Crystal Palace at Sydenham, collodion technique made it possible to document the entire reconstruction. Photographing weekly for about three years—1851 to 1854—the noted painter-photographer Philip Henry Dclamotte recorded the rebirth of the glass hall in its new location and the installation of the exhibits. In itself, the iron structure of Sir Joseph Paxton's huge pavilion provided interesting shapes and forms, but Delamottc's obvious delight in the building's airy geometry contributes to the pleasurable satisfaction these images -rill afford, and indeed this first record is among the more interesting documentations of the many that were made of the industrial fairs that followed.



PHILIP HENRY DELAMOTTE. The Open Colonnade, Garden Front, c. 1853.
Albumen print. Greater London History Library, London.

 

From the 1850s on, the mechanical-image maker frequently was called u.pon to record other feats served up by the age of mechanization. The usefulness of such records was demonstrated by the documentation of Isambard Kingdom Brunei's British steamship Great Eastern, an enormous coal-driven liner capable of carrying 4..000 passengers. The vivid handling of light, form, and volume seen in views by Robert Howlett and Joseph Cundall of this "leviathan"—made for the Illustrated Times of London and the London Stereoscope Company—was praised because it embraced real rather than synthetic situations. Contrasting these works with artistically conceived and reenacted studio compositions that were being turned out at about the same time (see Chapters), critics suggested that the true measure of camera art was in the sensitive Treatment of actuality.



ROBERT HOWLETT (?). The "Great Eastern" Being Built in the Docks at Millwall, November 30,1857.
Albumen print. J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles.
 

Soon after mid-century, photographers were called upon to record the building of rail routes in France and the United States, both latecomers in this endeavor com-pared with Britain. One such commission, initiated by the French rail magnate Baron James de Rothschild, went to Fdouard Denis Baldus, who in 1855 and 1859 followed the building of the north-south line from Boulogne to Paris, Lyons, and eventually to the Mediterranean ports. These large-format prints, exemplified by Pont de la Mulatiere, were made up into "presentation albums," one of which was given to Queen Victoria; they also were exhibited at the major industrial expositions where they were ac-claimed for elegant clarity of vision and superb tonal range. Gallic respect for order and precision also characterizes an image of engines in the roundhouse at Nevers, taken between 1860 and 1863 by the little-known French photographer A. Collard, whose work for the Departement de Fonts et Cbaussees (Department of Bridges and Roads) resulted in impressive views that emphasized the geometric rationality of these structures.
 


EDOUARD DENIS BALDUS. Pont de la Mulatiere, c. 1855.
Albumen print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.
 


A. COLLARD. Roundhouse on the Bourbonnais Railway, Nevers, 1860-63.
Albumen print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

 

Baldus, whose other commissions included the previously mentioned reportage on the Rhone floods and a documentation of the building of the new Louvre Museum was entirely committed to the documentary mode. His images established the paradigm documentary style of the era in that he brought to the need for informative visual material a sure grasp of pictorial organization and a feeling for the subtleties of light, producing works that transcend immediate function to afford pleasure in their formal resolution. When increasing commercialization—the need to mass-produce albumen prints for indiscriminate buyers of stereographs and tourist images—made this approach documentation financially untenable, Baldus turned to re-printing his negatives and reproducing his work in gravure rather than alter the high standards he had set for himself. His attitude may be compared with that of William England, a highly competent British photographer who traveled widely to provide his publisher with images for stereoscopes and albums. As John Szarkowski has pointed out, England's view of the Niagara Suspension Bridge has something for everyone—scenery, human interest, an engineering marvel, and the contrast between old and new means of transportation. Nevertheless, though well-composed and satisfying as a document, it lacks the inspired tension that put Baldus's work onto another plane of visual experience, perhaps because its aim was simply to provide the kinds of information the public wanted in the clearest fashion.
 


WILLIAM ENGLAND. Niagara Suspension Bridge, 1859.
Albumen print. Museum of Modem Art, New York.

 

The character of new engineering materials and construction methods that were altering the appearance of Europe at mid-century seems to have had a special appeal to photographers called upon to document bridges and railway construction. To select only one example, Two Bridges, a work by Louis Auguste Bisson whose portrait firm sought to expand with such documentary commissions, explores the geometries of are and rectangles to enhance the contrast between the traditional stone of the past and the modern metal span. At times, fascination with the design properties of construction materials became so pronounced as to almost obscure the utilitarian purpose of the structure; in an 1884 image of the building of the Forth Bridge in Scotland by an unknown photographer, the angled beams take on an animated life of their own, swallowing up the small figures in the foreground.

Photographs of industrial activity that included the work force also were made, although often they were less formally conceived. Taken for a variety of purposes—as a record of engineering progress, as material for illustrators —many such records were not deemed important, with the result that in time the names of the makers or the particulars of their careers became lost. Yet these images, too, can exert a spell through a formal structure that converts mundane activity, such as work, into evocative experience. Few images in either Europe or the Americas were concerned with the actual conditions of work, an interest that did not manifest itself photographically until late in the century.
 


AUGUSTE ROSALIE and AUGUSTE BISSON. Two Bridges, n.d.
Albumen print. Bibliotlieque Nationale, Paris.

 


UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (probably Scottish). Construction of the forth Bridge, c. 1884.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Centre Canadien d''Architecture/ Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

Fortunately, Europeans did not heed Holmes's quintessentially American view that the artifacts themselves might be dispensed with as long as their images remained; intead, their goal was to disinter and relocate actual objects. Though frequently wrenched from historical context and incorrectly restored, these works confirmed a sense of continuous history for Europeans experiencing the unsettling advance of industrialization. The excavation, transportation, and restoration of this cultural booty produced some visually stimulating camera images. Almost even, aspect of industrial Europe's romance with the past, from the pilgrimage to ancient lands, to the installation of the object in a modern setting was captured by the camera. And while by mid-century European museums already had become the repositories of statuary and decorative objects from all over the ancient world, the growing popular interest in archeology and its finds must be attributed in some measure to the camera.

Monumental contemporary works of statuary also provided subjects for photographers intrigued by the contrast in scale afforded by such pieces. The documentation of the production of the Statue of Liberty in France, by Albert Fernique, and its installation in the United States was just one of a number of such picturizations of an activity that was going on in other industrial countries. too. One suspects that the amusing contrast between the lively figures of the real workmen and the grandiose inertia of the idealized effigy, seen in this work and also in Alois Locherer's record of the construction and transport of the mammoth statue Bavaria, constituted at least part of the appeal of such images.
 


HENRI Ascending the Great Pyramid, c. 1878. Phototype from L'Egypte et la Nubie, 1888.
Charles Edwin Wilbour Library of Egyptology, Brooklyn Museum.



PHILIP HENRY DELAMOTTE. Setting up the Cobssi of Rameses the Great, 1853.
Albumen print. Greater London History Library.



ALBERT FERNIQUE (?). Construction of the Statue of Liberty, Workshop View, Paris, c. 1880.
Albumen print. Rare Books and Manuscripts Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.



ALOIS LOCHERER. Transport of the Bavaria (Torso), 1850.
Albumen print. Agfa-Gevaert Foto-Historama, Cologne, Germany.

Camera Documentation: United States

Camera documentation of industrial progress in North America differed significantly from that of Europe, primarily because of America's lack of historical monument-and its attitude to photography in general. Drawn largeh from the ranks of graphic artists, mid-century Europcar. photographers were influenced by attiaides instilled in them about art in general, but in the "new world" sound academic training in the arts was limited. With few exceptions, Americans regarded photography as a business and the camera as a tool with which to record information. Neither poets nor reformers, many photographers in the United States were unconcerned with subtleties, endeavoring instead to present material objects in a clear-cut and competent fashion without involvement in the artistic effects of light and shade or unusual compositional angles. This said, it still is curious that in a country so consumed by interest in mechanical devices, few images that take advantage of the forceful geometry of engineering structures were made. From the daguerreotype era to the end of the century, when Americans photographed bridges, railways, machinery, and buildings—emblems of the growing industrialization of the nation—their major concern was to be informative rather than inspirational. The choice of camera position in Brooklyn Bridge Under Construction (by an unknown photographer) diminishes the scale and beauty of the pylons in order to direct attention The transformation of Paris from a medieval to a modern city, ordered by Prefect of the Seine Baron Haussmann (who took office in 1853), provided an exceptional opportunity for urban camera documentation. Old buildings and neighborhoods scheduled for demolition were photographed in collodion in the 1860s by Charles Marville. a former illustrator, whose early work in the waxed-papet process appeared in many of Blanquart-Evrard's publications. These images display a poignant regard for the character and texture of vanishing ways, indicating again that documentary records might be invested with poetic dimension. Working on his own (after recovering from the disappointing events of 1839, in which his own paper process was suppressed), Hippolyte Bayard made decorous views of the streets and buildings of Paris. In all major cities, the urban milieu offered photographers a chance to capture the contrast of old and new and also to document aspects of anonymous street life, producing views that after 1859 were much in demand by the buyers of stereographs.


UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Brooklyn Bridge under Construction, c. 1878.
Albumen print. New-York Historical Society, New York.




CHARLES MARVILLE. Tearing Down the Avenue of the Opera, c. 1865.
Albumen print. Musec Carnavalet, Paris.

 

Another aspect of Victorian photographic activity concerned the appropriation of the physical remains of the past. Popular interest in archeology, initiated in the 18th century with the finds at Troy, Pompeii, and Herculaneum, was further stimulated by the acquisition of works unearthed by 19th-century European scholars and diplomats investigating ancient cultures in Egypt, Greece, and the Near East, often while pursuing imperialistic interests.
Typical of the many views of this project, the image falls short of embodying the daring energy which the bridge itself still symbolizes. In comparison, Canadian William Norman's 1859 photograph of the framework and tubing of the Victoria Bridge creates an arresting visual pattern that also is suggestive of the thrust and power of the structure. As F. Jack Hurley points out, 19th-century photographs of American industry concentrate on depicting the individuals responsible for "taming, dominating and bending to their wills ... the vast virginity of the continent" rather than on the expressive possibilities inherent in structural and mechanical forms.



WILLIAM NOTMAN. Victoria Bridge, Framework of Tube and Staging, Looking in, May, 1859.
Albumen print. Notman Photographic Archives, McCord Museum, McGill University, Montreal.
 

However, there are exceptions: in the years following the Civil War, photographic documentation of the western rail routes—in particular the construction of track-beds and spans and the laying of rails—resulted in images of decided visual impact. Inspired by the grandeur of the wilderness, the photographers, among them Alexander Gardner, Alfred A. Hart, William Henry Jackson, Andrew Joseph Russell, and Charles R. Savage, recorded not only actual construction but settlements along the way, unusual vegetation, geological formations, and Indian tribal life. The best-known of these images—a work by Russell of the joining of the cross-continental tracks at Promontory Point, Utah Territory, in 1869 —is in the mainstream tradition of American documentation, with workers and dignitaries the focus of the celebratory occasion, but in other works, typified by Russell's The Construction of the Railroad at Citadel Rock, landscape predominates—the understandable effect of an attitude that regarded the western wilderness with near-religious awe. Many of Russell's images emphasize curving rails and intricately constructed bridge spans, foreshadowing the hand-ling of similar themes by William Rau, official photographer of the Pennsylvania and Lehigh Valley railroads at the end of the century. The clean, formal organization of track-beds and rails in Rau's images suggests that industrial might had emerged without trauma or exertion—a view that was to gain ascendancy in visual expressions of machine culture in the 1920s. As was true of western scenic photographs, railroad images were sold in stereo-graph and large-format, used to make up presentation albums, shown in photographic exhibitions, and copied by engravers for the illustrated press.


RUSSELL. Meeting of the Rails, Promontory Point, Utah, 1869.
Union Pacific Historical Museum, Omaha, Neb.
 


ANDREW J. RUSSELL. The Construction of the Railroad at Citadel Rock, Green River, Wyoming, 1867-68.
Albumen print. Western Americana Collection, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University, New Haven, Conn.
 


WILLIAM RAU. New Main Line at Duncannon, 1906.
Gelatin silver print. J. Paul Gettv Museum, Los Angeles.


 

Newsworthy Events and Instantaneous Views

Large-format documentary images required that human figures, when included, remain still during exposure, as can be seen in the posed stance of the workers in the Russell photograph. Recording events that were in a state of flux on this size plate would have resulted in blurring sections of the image, an effect that 19th-century viewers regarded as a sign of imperfection. In fact, during the 1840s and '50s, in order to present occurrences in which there was continuous, if not very rapid, action, it was necessary to restage the scene, as was done for the daguerreotypes by Southworth and Hawes taken in the operating room of Massachusetts General Hospital in 1848. Nonetheless, the inadequacy of the earliest technology had not prevented daguerreotypists from attempting to capture images of fires, floods, and storms—catastrophes over which people have little control but show strong interest in. George N. Barnard was able to make a daguereotype during an actual conflagration that took place in Oswego, New York, in 1851. Even after glass plates took over, however, on-the-spot news photography was difficult because the photographer had to arrive on the scene armed with chemicals and equipment to sensitize the plates before they could be exposed in the camera. Luck obviously played a great role in mid-19th-century documentation of such events, which frequently were translated into engravings in the illustrated press.
 


ALBERT SANDS SOUTHWORTH and JOSIAH JOHNSON HAWES. Operating Room, Massachusetts General Hospital, Woman Patient, 1846-48.
Daguerreotype. Massachusetts General Hospital News Office, Boston.



GEORGE N. BARNARD. Burning Mills, Osweao, New Tork, 1851. Daguerreotype.
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.
 

With the perfection during the 1850s of shorter focal-length (41/2 to 5 inches) stereographic cameras, accompanied by the publication in 1856 of Sir David Brewster's manual on stereography, photography became capable of freezing certain kinds of action. "Instantaneous" views made in stereograph format began to appear around 1858; among the earliest in America was a series taken of long stretches of lower Broadway, commissioned by the E. and H. T. Anthony Company, of which this street scene is a typical example. In Great Britain, William England and George Washington Wilson began to market "instantaneous" images of crowded street scenes while Adolphe Braun and Hippolyte Jouvin were involved with the same kind of imagery in France. In addition to the stereograph cameras produced in all three countries, small singlelens apparatuses designed to arrest action began to appear, but despite these refinements, collodion technology still was burdensome, preventing action photography of the sophistication and speed to which modern viewers are accustomed.


EDWARD ANTHONY. New Tork Street Scene, 1859.
One-half of an albumen stereograpt Collection George R. Rinnan.




HIPPOLYTE JOOVIN. Porte St. Denis, Paris, c. 1860.
Albumen stereograph. Collection Ivan Christ, Paris.


 

Documentation: Daily Life and Ethnic Customs

Curiosity about the everyday lives of the world's peoples predates the invention of photography, but as industrial nations involved themselves in imperialist adventures around the globe, the camera emerged as a most apt tool for satisfying the thirst for sociological information that emerged. Between 1855 and about 1880, collodion/albumen technology made it possible for resolute photographers, both amateur and professional, to follow their countrymen to Africa, the Americas, Asia, and the Near East in order to record, besides scenery, aspects of daily life and ethnic customs. Though under the impression that these documentations were "objective"—that is, truthful records of what exists—those behind the cameras were guided in their selection and treatment of material both by a sense of being emissaries of a "higher civilization,"7 as John Thomson called it, and by the desire for commercial success. Nevertheless, despite assumptions of superiority, the close observation of indigenous customs altered ethnocentrie attitudes and in some cases even evoked admiration for elements of so-called "backward" cultures among photographers.

India under British rule provided the greatest opportunity to satisfy the desire for this kind of imagery on the part of occupying residents and folks back home. Among those portraying native life in the areas where Britons maintained interests in the jute, tea, and teak industries were Felice Beato (a naturalized British subject of Italian birth whose biography has recently emerged), Samuel Bourne (whose catalog listings included "Groups of Native Characters'), and John Burke, who worked in the Punjab and in Kashmir before recording the course of the Second Afghan War. The now little-known William Johnson, a founder of the Bombay Photographic Society, published his views of Indian teachers, vendors, and workers periodically in 1856 in The Indian Amateur's Photographic Album and then in a single volume containing 61 photographs. Group of Cotton Carders has a mannered quality common to many such staged indoor scenes of the time, whereas the out-of-doors settings that served as the locales for Captain Willoughby Wallace Hooper gave his images of lower-caste Hindu life and famine victims a more natural-looking aspect.



WILLIAM JOHNSON. Group of Cotton C from The Indian Amateur's Photographic Album. 1856.
Albumen print. India Office Library and Records Department, British Library, London.

 

Known or unknown, British photographers sent to oversee or to document colonial activities in other parts of the empire on which "the sun never set" sent home views of the native peoples of South Africa, Australia, and New Zealand, as well as of India. The effects on Western viewers of scores of camera pictures of scantily clad, sometimes tattooed or painted humans of color from unindustrialized parts of the world are difficult to determine. No doubt as a group these images stimulated 19th-century positivists in their quest for anthropological information, but whether they reinforced dominant stereotypes against nonwhites or made viewers more conscious of individual differences among subjected peoples depended in part on the indi-vidual photographer's attitude and approach and in part on the context in which they were seen.

In China, posed studio photographs simulating typical occupations appeared on cartes-de-visite made in the port cities during the 1850s, but actual views of street life did not reach the West until John Thomson issued Illustrations of China and Its People in 1873-74. The 200 photographs reproduced in heliotype with descriptive texts—the result of nearly five years spent in Hong Kong, Formosa, and on the mainland—include, besides portraits and scenery, images of people engaged in mundane activities, among them Itinerant Tradesmen, Kiu Kiang Kiangsi. This image may suggest a staged view, but its sharpness and detail were meant to convince 19th-century viewers of the reality of a scene happened upon by accident.



JOHN THOMSON. Itinerant Tradesman, Kiu Kiang Kiangsi, c. 1868.
Albumen print. Philadelphia Museum of Art; Purchase of Stieglitz Restricted Fund.

 

Views of everyday life in Japan (based on photographs) appeared in the Illustrated London News soon after the country was opened to Western exploitation by Commodore Matthew C. Perry; on that occasion, a camera was given to the shogun. The peripatetic Felice Beato arrived in Japan about 1863, and five years later his Photographic Views of Japan with Historical and Descriptive Notes appeared; one of its two volumes is devoted to "Native Types." Though similar in intent to Thomson's views of China, many of Beato's portrayals depict aristocrats, military men, laborers, vendors, and geisha posed in the studio holding emblems of their rank or trade. Gracefully composed against simple backgrounds and delicately hand-colored by Japanese artists, these works suggest the influence of the decorative ukiyo-e woodblock depictions of daily life. Similar amalgams of sociological information and artistic effect designed to attract travelers constitute the work of Baron Reteniz von Stillfried, an Austrian who settled in Yokohama in 1871, bought Beato's studio, and produced, with a partner and Japanese assistants, an album entitled Views and Costumes of Japan. The genre was further refined by the Japanese photographer Kusakabc Kimbei, an assistant to von Stillfried who took over the latter's studio around 1885-Following the Meiji Restoration of the late 1860s, which introduced modern industrial ideas to Japan, photography began to spread; by 1877 there were 100 photographers in Tokyo alone, working mainly for the wealthy.
 


BARON RETENIZ VON STILLFRIED. Rain Shower in the Studio, c. 1875.
Albumen print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.




KUSAKABE KIMBEI. Drill of Japanese Fire Brigade, c. 1890.
International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

 

Baron Raimund von Stillfried

Also known as Baron Raimund von Stillfried-Rathenitz (6 August 1839 - 12 August 1911), was an Austrian photographer. After leaving his military career Stillfried moved to Yokohama, Japan and opened a photographic studio called Stillfried & Co. which operated until 1875. In 1875 Stillfried formed a partnership with Hermann Andersen and the studio was renamed, Stillfried & Andersen (also known as the Japan Photographic Association). This studio operated until 1885. In 1877 Stillfried & Andersen bought the studio and stock of Felice Beato. In the late 1870s Stillfried visited and photographed in Dalmatia, Bosnia, and Greece. In addition to his own photographic endeavours, Stillfried trained many Japanese photographers. In 1886 Stillfried sold the majority of his stock to his protégé, the Japanese photographer Kusakabe Kimbei, he then left Japan.


BARON RETENIZ VON STILLFRIED.
Kamibashi Bridge, the Otani River



BARON RETENIZ VON STILLFRIED.
A woman scooping water
 

Tribal peoples played similar roles for those intrigued by exotic customs in the western hemisphere. In the United States, railroad, survey, and frontier photographers— including Gardner, Jackson, and John K. Hillers (first official photographer for the Bureau of Ethnology)—documented Indian life in the course of other work. To the nordi, Humphrey Lloyd Hime included "native races" in his portfolio on the Assiniboine and Saskatchewan expeditions in 1858. As the open lands and simple life of the West began to attract escapees from densely setdcd industrialized regions (and nations), straightforward documentation of Indian life became tinged with idealizing intentions. Individuals such as Adam Clark Vroman, a California bookseller who first accompanied a party of ethnologists to the Southwest in 1895, used the camera to emphasize the dignity, industriousness, and charm of the Hopi and Zuni as well as to depict their customs and ceremonies. Besides donating images to the Bureau of Ethnology archives, Vroman employed them in slide lectures and publications. Ten or so years later, the photographic logging of archaeological excavations was introduced by the Harvard professor George Reisncr.



ADAM CLARK VROMAN. Hopi Maiden. c. 1902.
Platinum print. Private Collection.

 

In the same era, Edward S. Curtis, an ambitious commercial photographer in Seattle, felt moved to record vestiges of the culture of what he perceived as a "vanishing race," eventually creating a 20-volume survey of the customs, habitations, and dress of the Indians of North America. Supported initially by financial help from the investment banker J. P. Morgan, Curtis saw tribal life through a veil of cultural preconceptions that at times led him to introduce into his documentation traditional costumes and artifacts no longer in general use. Working at a time before standards for ethnological photography had been formulated, Curtis treated this subject matter aesthetically, softening forms and obscuring detail to emphasize his overall concept of the mythic nature of American Indian life. Often haunting in character, these images of Native American life could be considered within the framework of Pictorialism rather than of documentation. Similarly, Portrait of Mother and Child, Ungava Peninsula, one of some 1,500 still photographs by the filmmaker Robert Flaherty (whose wife, Frances, often worked with him), combines sociological information with a heroicizing vision that celebrates the unspoiled essence of Inuit life.
 


EDWARD S. CURTIS. The Vanishing Race, c. 1904.
Platinum print. San Francisco Museum of Modem Art; extended loan of Van Deren Coke.



ROBERT FLAHERTY. Portrait of Mother and Child, Ungava Peninsula, 1910-12.
Gelatin silver print. Public Archives of Canada, Ottawa


 

Scientific and Medical Documentation

The second half of the 19th century was also an era of expanding use of photography in connection with scientific documentation. The first daguerreotype microphotographs, by John Benjamin Dancer in the 1840s, reduced a 20-inch document to 1/8 of an inch using a camera with a microscope lens. Other early experiments in both calotype and daguerreotype produced micrographs of bones, teeth, butterfly wings, and seed pods that were harbingers of the contributions anticipated when the camera was harnessed to the microscope. However, the daguerreotype was too unwieldy and the calotype too indistinct to be of great service to science, even though a textbook and atlas based on micro-daguerreotypes taken by Jean Bernard Foucault was issued by Alfred Donne, the chief clinical physician of a Paris hospital, in 1845. With the development of the glass-plate negative, along with the refinement of microscopes, lenses, and shutters, evermore-minute analyses of unseen and barely seen forms and structures became possible. An important contribution in this advance was Human Physiology by Professor John William Draper, whose portrait experiments were discussed in Chapter 2. Published in 1856 with woodcuts based on photographs, it was, according to Harper's New Monthly Magazine, the first "attempt... on an extensive scale to illustrate a book on exact science with the aid of photography." Not long afterward, the first text on the use of photography in microscopic research was written by a German physiologist, Joseph Gerlach, according to Alison Gernsheim (one of the first writers to investigate the historical uses of the camera in medicine). A Photographic Atlas of the Nervous System of the Human Frame was projected for publication in Munich in 1861.

Used at first in England and Germany to provide before-and-after records, camera images soon began to illustrate medical texts on diverse problems, from skin lesions to glandular and skeletal aberrations. In 1858, the London Photographic Journal prophesied that every medical school soon would be furnished with a library of photographic illustrations of disease, and by 1861 the medical profession acknowledged that stereographs and the stereoscope had become "important adjuncts to the microscope for representing the appearance of different phases of disease."

In the study of mental instability, photography assumed administrative, diagnostic, and therapeutic functions. Dr. Hugh Welch Diamond's 1852 portraits taken in a mental asylum have been mentioned, but photography already had been used a year earlier as a component of a concept known as "moral treatment"—an intervention that sought to provide confined mental patients with antidotes to boredom and nonconstructive activity by showing them lantern slides. In what may have been the first use of photographic rather than hand-painted slides, the Langenheim brothers collaborated with the chief physician of the Philadelphia Hospital for the Insane in this magic-lantern therapy.

The Documentation of Wars and Conflicts

War coverage did not really become feasible until the collodion era. It was obvious from the first that the slow, one-of-a-kind daguerreotype was ill suited for war coverage, although some portraits of army personnel were made by this method. The laborious procedures of the calotype process, although used by Bayard to depict the barricades set up in Paris during the revolution of 1848 and by British Army surgeon John McCosh to record episodes in the wars between British and native troops in India and Burma in the mid-19th century, made it, also, a difficult technique for successful battlefield photography. Collodion glass-plate photographers showed themselves capable of exceptional documentation of actuality in relation to military conflicts, perhaps because they recognized that such events were of unusual historical significance. Though somewhat static by modern standards, compelling images of imperialistic adventures, civil disorders, and revolutionary uprisings often go beyond the description o surface appearance to express in visual terms the psychological and physical trauma that such conflicts occasion.




HIPPOLYTE BAYARD. Remains of the Barricades of the Revolution of 1848, rue Royale, Paris, 1849.
Albumen print. Societe Franc,aise de Photographic Paris.
 

The awkwardness for the photographer of transporting an entire darkroom and of processing the plates on the battlefield is hard to imagine. This incumbrance was balanced, however, by the wet plate's capacity for sharply defined images that could be easily duplicated—factors that made the commercialization of such photographs possible. Still, those working in collodion concentrated on portraying war-related activities rather than action under fire, in part for logistical reasons but also because documentary images were expected to be in sharp focus, a virtual impossibility for photographers using the collodion process in the midst of battle. The documentation of army life by Le Gray made at an encampment of soldiers during peacetime reflects the near religious exultation with which Napoleon III regarded his army camp at Chalons.
 


GUSTAVE LE GRAY. Souvenirs du Camp de Chalons au General Decaen, 1857.
Albumen print. Collection Paul F. Walter, New York; Museum of Modern Art, New York

 

Photography entered the arena of war on the wings of politics. Ironically, the first large group of sustained images that have survived was commissioned because the British Establishment wished to present evidence to controvert written reports by William Russell, correspondent for The Times of London, detailing the gross inefficiency of military leaders during the Crimean War. The images were made by Roger Fenton, a founder of the elitist Photographic Society of London, during four months spent with the British Army at Sebastopol on the shores of the Black Sea. Bankrolled by a Manchester publishing firm and blessed by Prince Albert, Fenton arrived at Balaclava Harbor in March, 1855, with two assistants, five cameras, 700 glass plates, and a horse-drawn van (formerly that of a wine merchant) converted into a darkroom. Working at times in insufferable heat, with plates constantly being ruined by dust and insects, and besieged by the curious crowds of soldiers that flocked around begging for portraits, he complained of getting little done, but by the time he arrived back in England he had produced some 360 photographs.

To modern eyes, these images, especially the portraits, may seem static and contrived. This was partly the result of the limitations of collodion—exposures required from about 3 to 20 seconds—but their character also reflects Fenton's commission to present British Army personnel and ordnance in the best light. Lt. Col. Hallewell—28th Regiment—His Day's Work Over, an almost bucolic scene despite the embattled surroundings in which class hierarchies are still—incredibly—observed, is typical of many of the portraits. At the same time, Fenton acknowledged a broader mission. Noting that despite the arduous-ness of the project he could not leave until he had "secured pictures and subjects most likely to be historically interesting," he made views of the harbor and deserted battlefields that are visual expressions of the suffering and destruction, of the longing for home, of which he wrote so movingly.
 


ROGER FENTON. Lt. Col. Hallewell—28th Regiment—His Day's Work Over, 1855.
Albumen print. National Army Museum, London.

James Robertson, the British Superintendent of the Mint at Constantinople, who for 15 years had been making occasional scenic photographs of the Near East, took over in the Crimea after Fenton returned to England. The 60 or so images he produced after the British had conquered Sebastopol arc well-composed but far less artful documents of ruins, docks, left-over ammunition piles, and hospital facilities. Among the evidences of the disastrous incursions wrought by foreign forces on the landscape is a view by Robertson of Balaclava Harbor showing an army encampment in what formerly had been a magnificent wooded wilderness. Both Fenton and Robert-son's photographs were assembled into presentation albums for British and French royalty, were exhibited in London and Paris, and sold individually in these cities and New York; in addition, they provided material for engraved illustrations in the London press.
 


JAMES ROBERTSON. Balaclava Harbor, Crimean War, 1855.
Albumen print. Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

 

Photographs of desolation and destruction, among them Fenton's own Valley of the Shadow of Death, had a profound effect on viewers used to artistic depictions of wartime heroics. They were completely unlike drawings made by artists sent to the Crimea, which Fenton criticized for their "total want of likeness to reality. The absence of uplifting tone in camera documentations was especially shocking because the images were unhesitatingly accepted as real and truthful; indeed, discussing Fenton's Crimean pictures in a review of 1855, an Art Journal critic held that the "palpable reality" of which the camera was capable could be matched by no other descriptive means. Robertson's photographs received fewer accolades, and one wonders if the warmer reception of Fenton's work was a consequence of his friendships among the British upper class. However, by the time Robertson's images were exhibited, the war was about over, and public sentiment in Britain had turned from concern to indifference, with the result that even Fenton's work did not sell to the extent anticipated by its publisher.
 


ROGER FENTON. Valley of the Shadow of Death, 1855.
Albumen print. Science Museum, London.

 

No full-scale wars occupied Europeans for the remainder of the century, but uprisings, mutinies, and imperialist adventures were fairly continuous on the Continent, and in Africa, the Far East, and Latin America. Returning from the Crimea to Constantinople, Robertson and his former partner, Felice Beato, traveled east to record the aftermath of the Indian Mutiny of 1857, in which the Indian Sepoy regiments rebelled (unsuccessfully) against the British garrisons and, ultimately, against British rule in India. In addition to an interest in architecture, social customs, and landscape, Beato apparently was fascinated by scenes of devastation. In China in 1860 he documented the destruction of the Taku forts near Tientsin (Tianjin) during the Second Opium War, then, in Japan, die fighting at Shimonoseki Strait, and, during the 1880s, he turned up on the battlefields of the Sudan. Carefully composed and printed, his photographs present the aftermath of battles somewhat in the manner of ghoulish still lifes, an approach that has been characterized as ""distant and detached." However, considering the state of photographic technology, the fact that Beato was an outsider representing an oppressor nation in both China and Japan, and that the public was as yet unused to such photodocumentation, the reproach may be irrelevant; these images must have evoked a powerful response that current jaded perceptions can no longer imagine. Others whose approach to war documentation was also that of a "distant witness," but whose work has less visual interest, were John Burke, working in India and Afghanistan in the 1870s, and Sergeant Harrold, photographing for the British Royal Engineers in Abyssinia between 1868 and 1870.
 


FELICE BEATO. Embrasure, Taku Fort, 1860.
Albumen print. National Army Museum, London.

Between 1855 and 1870, camera images of wars and insurrections generally were accepted as truthful, if painful, mirrors of reality, but after the Paris Commune of 1871, other issues emerged in connection with documentations of politically controversial events. One involved the uses to which such photographs might be put, a problem that arose when portraits of the Communard leaders, made during the brief two-and-one-half months of their ascendancy, were used afterward by political opponents to identify and round up participants for trial and execution. The other problem concerned authenticity; documents purported to be of Communard atrocities were later shown to be fakes (pi. no. 206) issued by the Thiers government that took power after the fall of the Commune. Though not the first time that photographs had been doctored, the acknowledgment that documentary images could be altered marked the end of an era that had believed that such photographs might be pardoned anything because of their redeeming merit—truth.



UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Communards in Their Coffins, May, 1871.
Albumen print. Gemsheim Collection, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin


EUGENE APPERT. The Massacre of the Arcueil Dominicans, May 25, 1871.
Albumen print. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

Documenting the Civil War in the United States

The American Civil War was the first conflict to be thoroughly photographed, with cameramen on hand from the early Union defeat at Bull Run in 1861 to the final surrender of the Confederate forces at Appomattox in 1865. The thousands of photographs that issued from this enterprise were considered by William Hoppin, a prominent member of the New-York Historical Society at the time, to be "by far the most important additions to the pictorial history of the war." Hoppin went on to suggest that because successful views of action were not possible under battle conditions, most of the images were of the dead or dying, but, in fact, photographers documented a broad range of behind-the-lines activities. In today's terms, the frontal poses and clearly defined detail in the majority of images have a static quality that has been ascribed, generally, to the limitations of collodion technology. However, ideological factors also were significant; in order to accept the photograph "as an unmediated medium of picture-making," viewers expected the image to appear technically unflawed, to be clear, inclusive, and finely detailed— indeed, to present itself as reality itself.

There can be little disagreement that the extensive coverage and excellent quality of Civil War photography stemmed largely from Mathew Brady's visionary belief in the role of the camera as historian, even though it is now acknowledged that he actually made few of the images that bore his name. Convinced, as were most people at the time that the conflict would be of short duration, Brady claimed to have obeyed an inner "spirit" that commanded him to leave his lucrative portrait business to demonstrate the role that photography might play in the conflict. In truth, his connections with influential Northern politicians made it possible for him to outfit a wagon darkroom and participate in the First Battle of Bull Run in July, 1861.From then on, Brady regarded himself as an "impresario" —organizer, supplier, and publisher—for a corps of about 20 men, among them the former employees of the Brady portrait studios, Gardner and Timothy O'Sullivan. Using 16 x 20 inch, 8 x 10 inch, and stereograph cameras, these men photographed bridges, supply lines, bivouacs, camps, the weary, the bored, the wounded, and the dead—just about everything except actual battles, which would not have been sharp because exposure time was still counted in seconds. Published as Incidents of the War, and sold by Brady and the Anthonys, the images appeared with the Brady imprint only. This angered Gardner (and others) and led to the establishment in 1863 of an independent corps and publishing enterprise that credited the images to the individual photographers. Although most cameramen working during the Civil War were attached to units of the U.S. Army, George Cook, a daguerreotypist in Charleston who had managed Brady's New York studio in 1851, photographed for die Confederate forces.

 


MATHEW BRADY. Landing Supplies on the James River, c. 1861.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.




GEORGE COOK. Charleston Cadets Guarding Yankee Prisoners, 1861.
Albumen print. Cook Collection, Valentine Museum, Richmond, Va.

 

Much scholarship has gone into separating the work of the various Brady field operatives, with the result that our knowledge and appreciation of individual contributions have increased, but the effect of die enormous body of work—some seven to eight thousand images—is and was independent of considerations of attribution. The extensive coverage also reflected the increased need by the contemporary media—the weekly illustrated journals Harper's and Frank Leslie's—for images of catastrophic events. By reproducing on-the-spot graphic illustrations, and hiring artists to transform photographs into wood engravings, these magazines brought the battlegrounds into comfortable drawing rooms for the first time. As die documentation proceeded, readers of the illustrated press and purchasers of stereograph views were made acutely aware of what the New York Times called "the terrible reality." A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, taken by O'Sullivan (printed by Gardner) and later included in Gardner's Photographic Sketchbook of the Civil War, is a pictorial evocation rather than merely an illustration in that it encapsulates the tone of Lincoln's sorrowful words commemorating the battle. It brought home the anonymity of modern warfare, in which it was realized that shoeless soldiers, their pockets turned out, "will surely be buried unknown by strangers, and in a strange land." The haunting stillness of Ruins of Richmond, made toward the end of the war and frequently attributed to Gardner, is a quintessential evocation of the desolation occasioned by four years of death and destruction.
 


TIMOTHY H. O'SULLIVAN (originally printed by Alexander Gardner). A Harvest of Death, Gettysburg, Pennsivania. July. 18
Albumen print. Rare Books and Manuscript Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.


UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Ruins of Richmond, 1865.
Albumen print Museum of Modern Art, New York.

 

Civil War reportage owed its successes also to the readiness of the military to accept photography as a new visual tool, hiring photographers other than "Brady's Men" to work with various units. Barnard, the well-respected former daguerreotypist, worked with Brady briefly and then was attached to the Military Division of the Mississippi, where he documented the aftermath of General Sherman's march across Georgia in 1863; three years later he published a selection of images as Photographic Views of Sherman's Campaign. The surpassing "delicacy of execution . . . scope of treatment and . .. fidelity of impression," noted by a reviewer for Harper's Weekly, are evidences of Barnard's commitment to a style that included the printing-in of sky negatives when he believed they might enhance the truthfulness of the image. One such photograph, a view of die deserted rebel works occupied by Sherman's forces following the battle that delivered Atlanta to the Union Army, is especially moving as an emblem of the nation's psychological and physical exhaustion.

Sometime around the surrender of the Confederate Army at Appomattox, April 10, 1865, Gardner took what would be the last portrait of Lincoln. Following the assassination, he photographed the President's corpse four days later, and arranged to make portraits of those involved in the plot. Gardner was on hand July 7, 1865, with camera set up on a balcony overlooking the Arsenal Penitentiary courtyard, and from this position he made a sequence of exposures of the hangings of the conspirators—one of the earliest photographic essays on a specific event of political or social significance. The views that issued from this seminal documentation constitute a bleakly powerful story.

War photographers of the collodion period were interested in objectivity and craftsmanship. Through choice of subject, position, and exposure, they attempted to preseni accurately the localities, events, and methods of war, in the light of what they conceived to be the national interest. While close-ups, blurring, and distortion—the modern stylistic devices used by contemporary photographers in conflict situations—would have been antithetical to both the goals of the photographers and the desire by the public for clear pictorial records, there still was a need to invest the images with dramatic qualities consistent with their objectives but transcending temporal limitations. One frequently used approach was to incorporate silhouetted forms and figures within the frame; the stark Ruins of Richmond and Gardner's General John F. Hatrtranft Reading the Death Warrant illustrate how this stylistic device serves to isolate and emphasize certain forms while investing the image with a sense of timelessness.
 


GEORGE N. BARNARD. Rebel Works in Front of Atlanta, Georgia, 1864.
Albumen print. Stuart Collection, Rare Books Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.



 

Photographic Documentation and Graphic Art

Pictorial documentation of the Crimean and Civil wars was commissioned also of graphic artists by periodical publications on both sides of the Atlantic. In fact, the illustrator Alfred Waud, a competent if uninspired drafts-man, accompanied Brady on his first foray. Today, the most renowned of the Civil War "sketch artists" is Winslow Homer, at the time a young unknown sent by Harper's Weekly to cover front-line action in 1861. Besides turning out on-the-spot drawings that engravers converted into magazine illustrations, Homer collected material that he developed into paintings to create the only body of work of consistently high caliber with the Civil War as theme. His unconventional realism and his preference for mundane scenes that express the human side of army experience imbue these oils with a nonheroic modernity similar to that found in many camera images of the war. Although there is no evidence that Homer used actual photographs in his compositions of camp-life, his painting, A Trooper Meditating Beside a Grave, evokes the same sense of direct experience visible in Three Soldiers, a stereograph by an unknown maker.

Homer aside, there is no question that soon after their appearance, photographic documentations, with their keen sense of being an on-the-spot witness to reality, affected the course of the graphic arts in terms of theme and treatment. Though the camera lens might seem to be a more efficient tool than the brush for excising discrete moments of reality, the urge to recreate the daily dramas of ordinary people and the political events of the time on canvas also moved painters—especially the group in France known as Realists. That these artists consciously sought to emulate photography, to capture "the temporal fragment as the basic unit of perceived experience," as American art historian Linda Nochlin has observed, can be seen in the Execution of Maximilian, an 1867 work by Edouard Manet. Availing himself of news reports and using actual photographs of the shooting by firing squad as a basis for this work, the painter endeavored to deheroicize and demythicize a political occurrence that artists had classically treated with reverence. By emphasizing what the eye sees rather than invoking timeless moral or religious truths, both Realist painters and documentary photographers provided the public with alternative concepts about valor on the battlefield, triumph in death, and the sanctity of life.

It is a paradox nevertheless that documentary photographs are most memorable when they transcend the specifics of time, place, and purpose, when they invest ordinary events and objects with enduring resonance. Sensitivity to the transforming character of light, to the way it structures, reveals, and dramatizes, enabled 19th-century photographers to infuse gesture, expression, and, especially, portions of the built and natural world with feeling. In transmuting bits and pieces of an uninflected, seamless reality into formally structured entities, these pioneers of the medium demonstrated the unique potential of the camera to illuminate as well as record.

 


UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Three Soldiers, 1860s.
One-half of an albumen stereograph. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C

ROGER FENTON

"Gentleman photographer" might be an apt description of Roger Fenton, although his images are neither effete nor languid. His outlook, associations, and activities were re-flections of his firmly established position in the comfortable reaches of British society in the mid-1800s. For about 15 years, starting in the late 1840s, he was in the forefront of activity in the medium, producing art photographs and documentation, traveling widely, and organizing activities to promote photography. In 1862, without explanation he suddenly renounced all interest, sold his equipment and negatives, and returned his mind to the legal interests that had occupied him before photography.

From his youth, Fenton's interest was in art rather than in his family's textile and banking businesses. After graduating from college, he pursued training in Paris in common with other aspiring painters, studying with the French salon artist Paul Delaroche in 1841. This fortunate choice led to an acquaintanceship with photography and with several other young artists who were interested in the new field, including Le Gray. Eventually, Fenton returned to England and trained also for a more practical career in law, but he retained an interest in painting, exhibiting at the Royal Academy, and in photography, dabbling in the calotype.

In 1847, he joined with Frederick Archer, Hugh Welch Diamond, Robert Hunt, and William Newton to form the Photographic Club of London (also called the Calotypc Club). Three years later, he proposed the establishmen: of a formal society, modeled on the French Societe heliographique, that would meet regularly, publish a journal, and maintain a library and exhibition rooms. This entity. The Photographic Society of London (later the Royal Photographic Society), was finally inaugurated in 1853, after the relaxation of a part of Talbot's patent, with Sir Charles Eastlake as president and Fenton as honorary secretary. Fenton's influential associations brought about the patron-age of Queen Victoria and Prince Albert for the new society. In addition, he was a member of the Photographic Association, a professional body, and sat on committees to consider problems related to the fading of paper and copyright laws.

Fenton also photographed. In 1853 he made a number of portraits of the royal family; a year later he traveled to Russia to document the building of a bridge in Kiev, stopping to make calotypcs in St. Petersburg and Moscow, as well, On his return, he was employed by the British Museum to document collections of classical art and drawings. For a good part of 1855, he was involved with the Crimean War project, presenting his pictures and experiences to the crowned heads of Britain and France and trying to regain his health after a bout with cholera. The next year, he

returned to his post at the museum. From this time until 1862, he was involved with art photography, with landscape documentation, with a publication devoted to engravings made from photographs, and with stereography. After providing 21 images for a work entitled Stereoscopic Views of Northern Walesy he contributed regularly to Stereoscopic Magazine, a publication founded by Lovell Reeves that lasted for about five years. Aside from the documentations and landscapes already mentioned, he turned out images of models posed in exotic costumes and mannered still lifes, some replete with the overdecorated crockery dear to Victorians.

Fenton did not explain or justify his abrupt renunciation of photography, but a number of factors probably were involved. On the technical side, the instability of paper images continued to present problems; an album of his photographs done for the British Museum faded for no apparent reason. Perhaps of greater importance, in view of his own excellent craftsmanship that has kept most of his work remarkably well preserved, was the changing attitudes toward the medium that became apparent as collodion technology turned photography into business. His arrangements with the British Museum reflected the fact that the photographer was considered by many to be an artisan with little to say over the sales of images. Further-more, photographs hung in the 1862 International Exhibition had been relegated to the machinery section, despite a spirited campaign in the photographic press to consider them as art. Like contemporaries in France who also with-drew (Le Gray, Baldus), Fenton may have found these events too discouraging. In some ways, Fenton's activities are of as great interest as his images. While he made fine landscapes and still lifes, and some compelling views of the Crimean conflict, his campaigns to promote photography are indicative of the concern displayed by many young camera artists about the rapid commercialization of the field. In organizing photographic societies, they were attempting to control and maintain standards that would prevent the medium from being used as a purely mechanical picture-maker. This elitism was only partially successful, as first collodion, then the dry plate, and finally the snapshot camera pushed photographic practice in the opposite direction, making the battle for standards a recurring feature in the history of the medium.



ROGER FENTON. Col. Doherty, Officers and Men, 13th Light Dragoons

ROGER FENTON

Roger Fenton (March 20, 1819 - August 8, 1869) was a pioneering British photographer, one of the first war photographers.
Roger Fenton was born in Heywood, Lancashire. His grandfather was a wealthy Lancashire cotton manufacturer and banker, his father a banker and member of Parliament. Fenton was the fourth of seven children by his father's first marriage. His father had 10 more children by his second wife.
In 1838 Fenton went to University College London where he graduated in 1840 with a Bachelor of Arts degree, having studied English, mathematics, literature, and logic. In 1841, he began to study law at University College, evidently sporadically as he did not qualify as a solicitor until 1847, in part because he had become interested in studying to be a painter. In Yorkshire in 1843 Fenton married Grace Elizabeth Maynard, presumably after his first sojourn in Paris (his passport was issued in 1842) where he may briefly have studied painting in the studio of Paul Delaroche. When he registered as a copyist in the Louvre in 1844 he named his teacher as being the history and portrait painter Michel Martin Drolling, who taught at the Ecole des Beaux-Arts, but Fenton's name does not appear in the records of that school. By 1847 Fenton had returned to London where he continued to study painting now under the tutelage of the history painter Charles Lucy, who became his friend and with whom, starting in 1850, he served on the board of the North London School of Drawing and Modelling. In 1849, 1850, and 1851 he exhibited paintings in the annual exhibitions of the Royal Academy.

Fenton visited the Great Exhibition in Hyde Park in London in 1851 and was impressed by the photography on display there. He then visited Paris to learn the waxed paper calotype process, most likely from Gustave Le Gray, its inventor. By 1852 he had photographs exhibited in England, and travelled to Kiev, Moscow and St. Petersburg making calotypes there, and photographed views and architecture around Britain. He published a call for the setting up of a photographic society.
In 1855 Fenton went to the Crimean War on assignment for the publisher Thomas Agnew to photograph the troops, with a photographic assistant Marcus Sparling and a servant and a large van of equipment. Despite high temperatures, breaking several ribs, and suffering from cholera, he managed to make over 350 usable large format negatives. An exhibition of 312 prints was soon on show in London. Sales were not as good as expected, possibly because the war had ended. According to Susan Sontag, in her work Regarding the Pain of Others (ISBN 0-374-24858-3) (2003), Fenton was sent to the Crimean War as the first official war photographer at the insistence of Prince Albert. The photographs produced were to be used to offset the general aversion of the British people to an unpopular war, and to counteract the antiwar reporting of The Times. The photographs were to be converted into woodblocks and published in the less critical Illustrated London News and published in book form and displayed in a gallery. Fenton avoided making pictures of dead, injured or mutilated soldiers.

Due to the size and cumbersome nature of his photographic equipment, Fenton was limited in his choice of motifs. And because of the not very photosensitive material of his time, he was only able to produce pictures of unmoving objects, mostly posed pictures. But he also photographed the landscape, including an area near to where the Light Brigade - made famous in Tennyson's "Charge of the Light Brigade" - was ambushed, called The Valley of Death; however, Fenton's photographs were taken in the similarly named The Valley of the Shadow of Death. Two pictures were taken of this area, one with several cannonballs on the road, the other with an empty road. Opinions differ concerning which one was taken first. Filmmaker Errol Morris wrote a series of essays canvassing the evidence. He concluded that the photo without the cannonballs was taken first, but he remained uncertain about who moved the balls onto the road in the second picture - were they deliberately placed on the road by Fenton to enhance the image, or were soldiers in the process of removing them for reuse?
Several of Fenton's pictures, including the two versions of The Valley of the Shadow of Death, are published in The Ultimate Spectacle: A Visual History of the Crimean War by Ulrich Keller.In 1858 Fenton made studio genre studies based on romantically imaginative ideas of Muslim life, such as Seated Odalisque, using friends and models who were not always convincing in their roles.

Fenton is considered the first war photographer for his work during the Crimean War, for which he used a mobile studio called a "photographic van". In recognition of the importance of his photography, Fenton's photos of the Crimean war were included in the collection, 100 Photos that Changed the World.


Mathew Brady

As unlikely as it may at first seem, Mathew Brady was in some ways the New World counterpart of Roger Fenton. Differing in background, class position, training, and range of subjects, Brady nevertheless shared with Fenton a sense of mission as well as high critical esteem. Son of poor Irish farmers, Brady arrived in New York City from upstate, probably in the mid-183os. He was introduced by the painter William Page to Samuel F. B. Morse, from whom he may have learned daguerreotyping, although there is no mention in Morse's papers of Brady as a student. His early years in the city are scantily documented, but sometime in 1844 he opened a portrait studio in what was the busiest commercial section of lower Broadway. By the late 1850s, after one failure in Washington and several moves in New-York, he was the owner of fashionable portrait establishments in both cities. Friend to politicians and showmen, he was known to all as the foremost portraitist of the era.

Brady's success was based on high standards of crafts-manship and an unerring feeling for public relations. To this end his luxuriously appointed studios turned out a well-made but not exceptional product that cost more than the average daguerreotype or, later, albumen portrait. In Brady's establishments, the line between a painted and a camera portrait was dim: daguerreotypes could be copied life-size on albumen paper, inked or painted in by well-trained artists, while collodion glass negatives often were enlarged for the same purpose. In addition to displays of portraits of celebrities, his studios contained stereoscope apparatus with which customers could view the latest cards by a variety of makers. It is little wonder that the well-to-do and influential were attracted to Brady's studios.

Brady was an entrepreneur, setting up the studios, cajoling famous sitters, and arranging for reproductions of his work in the illustrated press, but the actual exposures were made by "operators," among them James Brown, George Cook, O'Sullivan, and, Gardner. In addition, a line of assembly workers that included many women saw to it that the firm's daguerreotypes and, later, its albumen prints were properly finished and presented. Nevertheless, at the time it was taken for granted that honors for excellence in portraiture, starting with a silver medal at the 1844- American Institute Exhibition and extending into the collodion era, should go to Brady himself. His greatest critical triumph was at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, where the Americans swept the field. It was on the trip to Europe for this event that Brady first investigated collodion and made the acquaintance of Gardner, who was to be influential in the success of his Washington portrait gallery.

Had Brady contented himself with commercial portraiture, it is doubtful that his role in the history of the medium would have been prominent, but he seems always to have been aware that photography could be more than just a successful commercial enterprise. In 1845, he proposed the publication of a series of portraits of famous American personalities in all professions. Issued in only one edinor A Gallery of Illustrious Americans, with lithographs by Francpis D'Avignon based on Brady daguerreotypes, was premature and did not sell. However, a portrait of Lincoln. the first of many, became so well-known that the President ascribed his election to this likeness. Taken just before the famous Cooper Union campaign address, this work showed a beardless Lincoln with softened features to make him appear more agreeable.

When the Civil War broke out, Brady's sense of photography's destiny finally could be tested. He was able to demonstrate not only that war reportage was possible but also his own personal courage in continuing the mission after his photographic wagon was caught in shell-fire at Bull Run. In the spring of 1862, Brady trained crews of photographers, assigned them to various territories, had wagons especially constructed in order to transport the photographic gear securely, and arranged for materials and equipment to be supplied from the New York house of T. and E. Anthony. Brady had expected to make back the expenses of his ambitious undertaking by selling photo-graphs, mainly in stereograph format, but after the war the demand for such images ceased as Americans, engulfed in an economic recession, tried to forget the conflict and deal with current realities. Debts incurred by the project, the slow trade in portrait studios generally, and the downfall of Brady's New York political patrons—coupled with the panic of 1873—resulted in the eventual loss of both his enterprises. At the same time, Brady's efforts to interest the War Department in his collection of Civil War images were unavailing. One set of negatives was acquired by the Anthony company as payment for the supplies, and another remained in storage, slowly deteriorating. When this collection of more than 5,000 negatives came up at auction in 1871, it was bought by the government for the storage charges of $2,840; somewhat later the sick and by-now impoverished Brady was awarded $25,000 in recognition of the historic services he had performed. At the time, it was impossible for most bureaucrats to realize the significance of the Civil War project. This vast enterprise not only had made it possible for photographers to gain the kinds of experience needed for the documentation of the West, but it had, for the first time in the United States, given shape to photography's greater promise—-that of transforming momentary life experiences into lucid visual expression.


MATHEW BRADY. Civil War, 1865
 

Mathew Brady

Mathew B. Brady (1822 - January 15, 1896), was one of the most celebrated 19th century American photographers, best known for his portraits of celebrities and the documentation of the American Civil War. He is credited with being the father of photojournalism.
Brady was born in Warren County, New York, to Irish immigrant parents, Andrew and Julia Brady. He moved to New York City at the age of 17. By 1844, he had his own photography studio in New York, and by 1845, Brady began to exhibit his portraits of famous Americans. He opened a studio in Washington, D.C. in 1849, where he met Juliette Handy, whom he married in 1851. Brady's early images were daguerreotypes, and he won many awards for his work; in the 1850s ambrotype photography became popular, which gave way to the albumen print, a paper photograph produced from large glass negatives most commonly used in the American Civil War photography. In 1859, Parisian photographer André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri popularized the carte de visite and these small pictures (the size of a visiting card) rapidly became a popular novelty as thousands of these images were created and sold in the United States and Europe.Brady's efforts to document the Civil War on a grand scale by bringing his photographic studio right onto the battlefields earned Brady his place in history. Despite the obvious dangers, financial risk, and discouragement of his friends he is later quoted as saying "I had to go. A spirit in my feet said 'Go,' and I went." His first popular photographs of the conflict were at the First Battle of Bull Run, in which he got so close to the action that he only just avoided being captured.

He employed Alexander Gardner, James Gardner, Timothy H. O'Sullivan, William Pywell, George N. Barnard, Thomas C. Roche and seventeen other men, each of whom were given a traveling darkroom, to go out and photograph scenes from the Civil War. Brady generally stayed in Washington, D.C., organizing his assistants and rarely visited battlefields personally. This may have been due, at least in part, to the fact that Brady's eyesight began to deteriorate in the 1850s.
In October 1862, Brady presented an exhibition of photographs from the Battle of Antietam in his New York gallery entitled, "The Dead of Antietam." Many of the images in this presentation were graphic photographs of corpses, a presentation totally new to America. This was the first time that many Americans saw the realities of war in photographs as distinct from previous "artists' impressions".
Following the conflict, a war-weary public lost interest in seeing photos of the war, and Brady’s popularity and practice declined drastically.
During the war Brady spent over $100,000 to create over 10,000 plates. He expected the U.S. government to buy the photographs when the war ended, but when the government refused to do so he was forced to sell his New York City studio and go into bankruptcy. Congress granted Brady $25,000 in 1875, but he remained deeply in debt. Depressed by his financial situation, loss of eyesight and devastated by the death of his wife in 1887, he became very lonely. Mathew Brady died penniless in the charity ward of Presbyterian Hospital in New York City, at five o'clock, on January 15, 1896, from complications following a streetcar accident.
Brady's funeral was financed by veterans of the 7th New York Infantry. He was buried in Congressional Cemetery in Washington, D.C.

Levin Corbin Handy, Brady's nephew by marriage, took over his uncle's photography business after his death.
The thousands of photographs Mathew Brady took have become the most important visual documentation of the Civil War, and have helped historians better understand the era.
Brady photographed and made portraits of many senior Union officers in the war, including Ulysses S. Grant, Nathaniel Banks, Don Carlos Buell, Ambrose Burnside, Benjamin Butler, Joshua Chamberlain, George Custer, David Farragut, John Gibbon, Winfield Hancock, Samuel P. Heintzelman, Joseph Hooker, Oliver Howard, David Hunter, John A. Logan, Irvin McDowell, George McClellan, James McPherson, George Meade, David Dixon Porter, William Rosecrans, John Schofield, William Sherman, Daniel Sickles, Henry Warner Slocum, George Stoneman, Edwin V. Sumner, George Thomas, Emory Upton, James Wadsworth, and Lew Wallace.

On the Confederate side, Brady photographed P.G.T. Beauregard, Stonewall Jackson, James Longstreet, Lord Lyons, James Henry Hammond, and Robert E. Lee. (Lee's first session with Brady was in 1845 as a lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army, his final after the war in Richmond, Virginia.)
Brady also photographed Abraham Lincoln on many occasions. His Lincoln photographs have been used for the $5 dollar bill and the Lincoln penny.
After the Civil War, many of the plates Brady used became the glass in greenhouses, and the pictures were lost forever.



 

Photojournalism-The Execution of the Lincoln Conspirators

The events that followed the assassination of Abraham Lincoln the Presidential Box at the Ford Theater on the night of April 14, 1865, provided sensational pictorial material for graphic artists and photographers. Sketch artists for the weekly magazines turned out drawings of the theater interior, the death scene, the funeral cortege, and the capture of those involved, but it is the photographs of the individual conspirators, and above all of the hanging of four of them on July 7th, that remain by tar the most vivid representations of this tragedy. The portraits, other than that of Booth, who perished in an ambush during his capture, were made by Alexander Gardner, presumably aboard the ironclad monitors Montauk and Saugns, where the conspirators were held while awaiting trial by a military tribunal. For the views of the actual execution, Gardner set up his camera on a roof overlooking the gallows erected in the courtyard of the Arsenal (or Old) Penitentiary and made a sequence of seven exposures of the preparations for and the hanging of George Atzerodt, David E. Herold, Lewis Payne, and Mary E. Surratt. This series appears to be the first photographic picture story of an event as it happened, and was all the more remarkable because of the secrecy surrounding the affair. While it was not possible at the time to reproduce these images by halftone in the popular press, this group of photographs signaled the important role that sequential images would play in news reporting in the future.

 

Alexander Gardner


(1821 – 1882)

Alexander Gardner was an American photographer. He is best known for his photographs of the American Civil War and his portraits of American President Abraham Lincoln.

Gardner was born in Paisley, Scotland, in 1821. He became an apprentice silversmith jeweler at the age of fourteen. Gardner had a Calvinist upbringing and was influenced by the work of Robert Owen, Welsh socialist and father of the cooperative movement. By adulthood he desired to create a cooperative in the United States that would incorporate socialist values. In 1850, Gardner and others purchased land near Monona, Iowa, for this purpose, but Gardner never lived there, choosing to return to Scotland to raise more money. He stayed there until 1856, becoming owner and editor of the Glasgow Sentinel in 1851. Visiting The Great Exhibition in 1851 in Hyde Park, London, he saw the photography of American Mathew Brady, and thus began his interest in the subject.
Gardner and his family moved to the United States in 1856. Finding that many friends and family members at the cooperative he had helped to form were dead or dying of tuberculosis, he stayed in New York. He initiated contact with Brady and came to work for him, eventually managing Brady's Washington, D.C., gallery.

Unfortunately, the most famous of Gardner's work has been proven to be a fake. In 1961, Frederic Ray of the Civil War Times magazine compared several of Gardner's photos showing Confederate snipers and realized that the same body has been photographed in multiple locations. Apparently, Gardner was not satisfied with the subject matter as it was presented to him and dragged the body around to create his own version of reality. Ray's analysis was expanded on by the author William Frassanito in 1975.
Abraham Lincoln became an American President in the November, 1860 election, and along with his appointment came the threat of war. Gardner, being in Washington, was well-positioned for these events, and his popularity rose as a portrait photographer, capturing the visages of soldiers leaving for war.

Brady had had the idea to photograph the Civil War. Gardner's relationship with Allan Pinkerton (who was head of an intelligence operation that would become the Secret Service) was the key to communicating Brady's ideas to Lincoln. Pinkerton recommended Gardner for the position of chief photographer under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Topographical Engineers. Following that short appointment, Gardner became a staff photographer under General George B. McClellan, commander of the Army of the Potomac. At this point, Gardner's management of Brady's gallery ended. The honorary rank of captain was bestowed upon Gardner, and he photographed the Battle of Antietam in September 1862, developing photos in his traveling darkroom.

Gardner worked for the photographer Mathew Brady from 1856 to 1862. According to a New York Times review, Gardner has often had his work misattributed to Brady, and despite his considerable output, historians have tended to give Gardner less than full recognition for his documentation of the Civil War.

Lincoln dismissed McClellan from command of the Army of the Potomac in November 1862, and Gardner’s role as chief army photographer diminished. About this time, Gardner ended his working relationship with Brady, probably in part because of Brady's practice of attributing his employees' work as "Photographed by Brady". That winter, Gardner followed General Ambrose Burnside, photographing the Battle of Fredericksburg. Next, he followed General Joseph Hooker. In May 1863, Gardner and his brother James opened their own studio in Washington, D.C, hiring many of Brady's former staff. Gardner photographed the Battle of Gettysburg (July 1863) and the Siege of Petersburg (June 1864–April 1865) during this time.

He published a two-volume work: Gardner's Photographic Sketch Book of the Civil War in 1866. Each volume contained 50 hand-mounted original prints. Not all photographs were Gardner's; he credited the negative producer and the positive print printer. As the employer, Gardner owned the work produced, like any modern day studio. The sketchbook contained work by Timothy H. O'Sullivan, James F. Gibson, John Reekie, William R. Pywell, James Gardner (his brother), John Wood, George N. Barnard, David Knox and David Woodbury among others. A century later, photographic analysis suggested that Gardner had manipulated the setting of at least one of his Civil War photos by moving a soldier's corpse and weapon into more dramatic positions.

Among his photographs of Abraham Lincoln were the last to be taken of the President, four days before his assassination. He also documented Lincoln's funeral, and photographed the conspirators involved (with John Wilkes Booth) in Lincoln's assassination. Gardner was the only photographer allowed at their execution by hanging, photographs of which would later be translated into woodcuts for publication in Harper's Weekly.
Gardner was commissioned to photograph Native Americans who came to Washington to discuss treaties; and he surveyed the proposed route of the Kansas Pacific railroad to the Pacific Ocean. Many of his photos were stereoscopic. After 1871, Gardner gave up photography and helped to found an insurance company. Gardner stayed in Washington until his death.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Edward Spangler, a Conspirator, April, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Samuel Arnold, a Conspirator, April, 1865.
Albumcr. print. Library of Congress, Washington. D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. George A Atzerodt, a Conspirator, April, 1865.
Albumen print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Lewis Payne, a Conspirator, in Sweater, Seated and Manacled, April, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. General John F. Hartranft and Staff Responsible for Securing the Conspirators at the Arsenal.
Left to Right: Capt. R. A. Watts, Lt. Col George W. Frederick, Lt. Col. William H. H. McCall, Lt. D. H. Geissinger,
Gen. Hartranft, unknown, Col. L. A. Dodd, Capt. Christian Rath, 1865. (Cracked Plate).
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

 


ALEXANDER GARDNER. Execution of the Conspirators: Scaffold Ready for Use and Crowd in Yard,
Seen from the Roof of the Arsenal, Washington, D.C, July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. The Four Condemned Conspirators (Mrs. Surratt, Payne, Herald, Atzerodt),
with Officers and Others on the Scaffold; Guards on the Wall, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. General John F. Hartranft Reading the Death Warrant to the Conspirators on the Scaffold, Washington, D.C, July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Adjusting the Ropes for Hanging the Conspirators, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Hanging Bodies of the Conspirators; Guards Only in Tard, Washington, D.C, July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.



ALEXANDER GARDNER. Coffins and Open Graves Ready for the Conspirators' Bodies at Right of Scaffold, Washington, D.C., July 7, 1865.
Albumen print. Library' of Congress, Washington, D.C.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
NEW TECHNOLOGY, NEW VISION, NEW USERS 1875-1925
 

IN THE FIFTY YEARS that followed the announcement that pictures could be made with sunlight, processes and ideas were continuously tried and discarded as people involved with the medium sought answers to the technical problems created by the expanding aesthetic, commercial, and scientific demands upon photography. As these needs un-folded it became apparent that professional photographers were looking for more sensitive film and for stable, standardized products to document an ever-widening range of subjects; that the scientific community required refined and specialized equipment; that artistic photographers were seeking materials of long tonal range and permanence. Still another constituency was added to those who made and used camera images when at the end of the 1880s simplified apparatus and processing methods—"push button" photography—turned potentially everyone into a photographer. During the same period, the persistent struggle to produce images in color in the camera was won, even though the solution turned out to be one of limited application. This explosion of products, techniques, and processes (detailed in A Short Technical History, Part II) produced significant changes in the kinds of images made and how they were used, and as a consequence established new audiences for photographic images. In turn, the increasing numbers of images provided information that altered public attitudes and perceptions of reality.

By 1890, photographic technology had taken wing. Wet collodion, in use for some 25 years before going the way of the daguerreotype, was supplanted by the dry plate—a silver-bromide gelatin emulsion available first on glass plates and later on lightweight, flexible celluloid film. This material was not only easier to use; it was more sensitive to light, thus shortening exposure time, and eventually it became orthochromatic—corrected for all colors of the spectrum except red (and blue, to which it was oversensitive). Camera design also flourished; during the final decades of the 19th century, photographers could choose from among a variety of instruments designed for different purposes. For professional work in the field there were view cameras in several sizes with extension bellows, swings, and tilts; for the serious amateur, hand-held reflex cameras. Stercographic and panoramic apparatus was available, as were tiny detective cameras—so named because they might be concealed in clothing or in other artifacts to make picture-taking unobtrusive. Concurrently, manufacturers began to produce faster lenses, shutters, exposure meters, flash equipment—all of which gave the photographer greater control over capturing on the negative what was occurring in actuality. At the same time, printing papers that satisfied both artistic and commercial purposes appeared on the market.

Standardization—the rational production of photo-graphic materials and processes—accelerated toward the end of the 19th century for a number of reasons. Basic among them was the continuing trend in Western capitalist countries toward the regularization of all manufactured goods and many services, with photography considered an intrinsic part of industrial capacity. Another stimulus was the growth of the chemical and dye industries, especially in Germany after its unification in 1871, which led to competition (in other countries, too) in the manufacture of new sensitizing materials and more refined apparatus. Possibly the most important stimulus was the realization that photography had shown itself to be more than a craft that reproduced what the eye could see, that its potential as a tool for revealing scientific, sociological, and physical phenomena never actually seen had transformed it into the most significant pictorial means in modern industrial society. And as printing technology progressed to make possible the direct transcription of photographic illustration in news and informational media, the pressure for more accurate equipment and flexible materials increased.

Photography from the Air

The expanded roles that the medium would presently assume had been hinted at soon after mid-century as photographers attempted to depict the physical universe from unusual vantage points or under abnormal conditions using the unwieldy collodion wet plate. For example, in connection with the growing interest in "flying machines," efforts were begun in the late 1850s to photograph from the sky, to reaffirm scientifically the vision of artists who from the Renaissance on had imagined a "bird's-eye view" of the earth. In 1858, Nadar became the first to succeed- producing a somewhat murky image of Paris while stripped to the skin (for lightness) and concealed behind a dark curtain the basket of a captive balloon manned by the famous Goddard brothers. He spent the next two years promoting his own lighter-than-air creation (see Profile), but his greatest success in aerial photography stemmed from the views of the Arc de Triomphe taken in 1868 with a multilens camera from the basket of another balloon, the Hippodrome.

Aside from the romance associated with the balloon-called the "ultimate engine of democracy" by the French— the practical nature of balloon transport was demonstrated when it turned out to be one of the two ways that mail could be delivered to and from the besieged city of Paris during the Franco-Prussian War (1870-71). The other way, by carrier pigeon, involved photography in that the written messages were reduced microphotographically and later enlarged for reading in a projection enlarger, foreshadowing the V-mail of the second World War.

At about the same time as Nadar's experiments— 1860—the Boston photographer James Wallace Black, a partner in the astrophotographic research conducted at Harvard by John Adams Whipple (see Chapter 1), ascended 1,200 feet in a balloon tethered over the Boston Common. Black used a Voigtlander camera and a shutter of his own contrivance to make the first aerial photographs in America, six of which are extant. Although the extraordinary feat of viewing the city "as the eagle and the wild goose saw it" (pi. no. 288) was praised by Oliver Wendell Holmes, and the photographer himself suggested that reconnaissance photography by balloon be tried during the Civil War, no action was taken. Despite attempts by several other photographers to make topographical views from the air, at times with balloon and kite cameras, the airborne camera seems not to have evoked further interest until the 20th century.


NADAR (GASPARD FELIX TOURNACHON). The Arc de Triomphe and the Grand Boulevards, Paris, from a Balloon, 1868.
Modem gelatin silver print from the original negative. Caisse Nationale des Monuments Historiques et des Sites, Paris.


JAMES WALLACE BLACK. Boston from the Air, 1860.
Albumen print. Boston Public Library, Boston.

Photography by Artificial Light

Another group of experiments undertaken to extend the scope of the medium soon after its invention involved artificial illumination. Electric batteries made it possible for Talbot in 1851 to produce a legible image of a swiftly revolving piece of newsprint and also provided artificial light for Nadar's experiments in this realm. Using Bunsen batteries and reflectors, Nadar first made portraits and then, in 1861, took the complicated apparatus below the streets to photograph in the sewers and catacombs (ancient burial grounds) of Paris. Some of the exposures took as long as 18 minutes, necessitating the substitution of manikins for humans, but despite having to cart lights, reflectors, rolls of wire, and camera and collodion equipment through narrow and humid corridors, Nadar produced about 100 underground scenes. Views of the pipes and drains, the walls of bones, and the tomb markers that constitute the nether regions of the city demonstrated the medium's potential to disclose visual in-formation about a wide range of physical facts.

Commercial portraiture by electric light using Bunsen cells was attempted by Adolphe Ost in Vienna in 1864, but it was not until the end of the following decade that the quality of portraits made by electric light became almost indistinguishable from those made with natural lighting. Because electric batteries initially were both weak and costly, photographers experimented with other chemical agents, including oxyhydrogen flame directed against lime (limelight) and magnesium wire. The latter substance was first put to the test in attempts to picture mine interiors in England in 1864; soon afterward it made possible images taken inside the Great Pyramid, and in 1866 the American Charles Waldack employed it for a series inside Mammoth Cave in Kentucky. This substance was also used for indoor portraiture; a group portrait, one of a series of early experiments with magnesium light made by John C. Browne in 1865, includes the editor of the Philadelphia Photographer, the journal most eager to promote new photographic technologies in the United States. In its most common form—flash-powder (used from the 1880s on)— magnesium emitted a cloud of acrid white smoke when ignited, and its intense light created harsh tonal contrasts, but until the flash bulb was invented in Germany in 1925 there was no practical alternative portable lighting agent.

Urban nighttime views presented another intriguing problem for photographers, but during most of the 19th century the gaslight used in street lamps was so weak in its illuminating power that exposures of from three to four hours were required to represent the tonalities of the night scene. In an early experiment by Whipple in 1863, photographs of the Boston Common, where the illumination had been boosted with the aid of electric light, still required exposures about 180 times as long as those taken in sun-light. Following the gradual electrification of cities from the 1880s on, there were more frequent attempts to capture people, carriages, and especially the street lighting itself at night. Works by Paul Martin in London and Alfred Stieglitz in New York in the 1890s are among the numbers of images testifying to the fact that both documentary and pictorialist photographers were fascinated by night scenery, especially the reflections of electric lights on glistening pavements and the tonal contrasts between virgin snow and velvety night sky.

The keen interest shown by Talbot and other photographers in objects and phenomena not ordinarily visible to the human eye, in conjunction with the increasing need on the part of the scientific community for precise information about microorganisms, prompted improvements in the design of equipment and methods that enabled scientists to study such matter as the structure of crystals and the forms of cells. At the same time, astrophotography gained ground with the capability of photographing, besides sun and moon, planetary bodies; by 1877 it was possible to contemplate a complete photographic mapping of the fixed star firmament. In the following decade.

Austrian and German photographers succeeded in making clear images of the phases of lightning in the night sky. Toward the end of the century, X-rays—spectral rays that penetrate opaque structures—were discovered by Conrad Wilhclm Roentgen (recipient of a Nobel prize in 1901) at the University of Wurzberg, stimulating their immediate use in camera images for medical diagnoses; within a year more than a thousand publications about X-rays appeared.



NADAR (GASPARD FELIX TOURNACHON). Workmen in the Pans Catacombs, 1861.
Albumen print. Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.




CHARLES WALDACK. Beyond the "Bridge of Sighs" from Mammoth Cave Views, 1866.
Albumen print. New-York Historical Society; George T. Bagoe Collection, gift of Mrs. Elihu Spicer.

The Photography of Movement

The most dramatic developments in terms of popular acclaim occurred in the realm of motion study as the camera began to provide artists, scientists, and the lay person with visual evidence about ordinary matters that the unaided eye could not see, such as walking and running. Talbot's success in stopping action with the aid of an electric flash (mentioned earlier) was acclaimed because it pointed the way to photographing "with all the animation of full life . . . the most agile dancer during her rapid movements ... the bird of swiftest flight during its pas-sage,"' but these experiments were not followed up until the 1880s, when Austrian scientist Ernst Mach, working in Prague, made exposures of flying projectiles, sound waves, and air streams using electric flash as a lighting source. Incidentally, although concerned with providing scientific information, Mach also wished these images to be visually pleasing, arguing that aesthetic quality in no way detracts from usefulness. Simultaneously, experimentation in stop action photography also took off in other directions— based on the capacity of the short-focal-length lens used on stereograph cameras to freeze motion in street photography and the other on the ability of successive exposures to record the discrete stages of a movement.

Throughout the 19th century, the need to institute proper training programs for horses and the desire by painters of history pictures for greater accuracy in the depiction of battle scenes had led to efforts by scientists to graphically analyze motion; after its invention, photography became the favored instrument for this endeavor. Beginning in 1872, the analysis of motion by the camera was carried on for some 20 years by Eadweard Muybridge and Thomas Eakins in the United States, by Ericnne Jules Marey in France, and by Ottomar Anschutz in Germany.



EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE. Studies of Foreshortening; Mahomet Running, 1879.
Modern print from a wet-plate glass collodion negative. Stanford University Art Museum, Stanford, Cal.


Muybridge's prominent role in this adventure was the result of what he called an "exceptionally felicitous alliance" with Leland Stanford, ex-governor of California, president of the Central Pacific Railroad, and owner of the Great Palo Alto Breeding Ranch (who nevertheless eventually disavowed the collaboration). Curiosity among racing enthusiasts about the positions of the legs of a horse running at full gallop prompted Stanford to call upon Muybridge—by 1872 the most renowned cameraman in the American West—to photograph his trotter Occident in motion. Though not remarkably clear, the first images from Muybridge's camera established to Stanford's saris-faction that at one point all four of the animal's hooves left the ground—although not, it should be added, in the position usually shown in painted representations."

This experiment initiated a collaboration, beginning in 1877, between Stanford and Muybridge with the goal of providing visual information about animal movement useful in the training of horses and human athletes. This time, the animals were photographed as they moved in front of a calibrated backdrop, tripping specially designed, electrically operated shutters of 12 cameras equipped with Dallmeycr stereographic lenses at one-thousandth of a second. News of the sensational photographs that resulted— photographs that documented what the human eye had never registered—appeared in the California press in 1877, in the prestigious Scientific American the following year, and in journals in London, Paris, Berlin, and Vienna soon afterward. Having become an international celebrity, Muybridge lectured in the United States and Europe, where his work was acknowledged by the French physiologist Marey.

Late in 1883, as a result of the withdrawal of Stanford's patronage, Muybridge accepted an invitation to continue his work at the University of Pennsylvania where he boldly extended the cast of characters and the range of movements. His human subjects were drawn from the teaching staff at the university, from professional models for the female nudes (about whose lack of grace he complained!), and from friends in the arts, among them Eakins, whose hand he photographed in various positions. In an elaboration of the California experiments, the move-ments generally were performed in front of a backdrop marked with a grid of vertical and horizontal lines and before a batten' of 24 cameras about six inches apart in a line parallel with the grid, while smaller groups of cameras were maneuvered into position to capture frontal, rear, and foreshortened views, as in Woman Emptying a Bucket on a Seated Companion. By the time the Pennsylvania project began in 1884, advances in technology enabled Muybridge to use more sensitive dry plates instead of collodion, and to afix a roller shutter in front of each camera lens. These were operated by an electromagnetic system (designed by the photographer) that tripped the shutters in succession and at the same time operated a chronograph or timing device. In a year-and-a-half of work, Muybridge produced some 100,000 images analyzing the movements involved in walking, running, playing ball, pirouetting, curtseying, and laying bricks, among other activities. The university selected 781 plates for Animal Locomotion, an expensive publication, after which Muybridge issued smaller editions entitled Animals in Motion and The Human Figure in Motion.

Eakins, the American painter whose long-standing interest in the accurate graphic representation of movement had prompted him to correspond with Muybridge and to purchase a set of studies of the horse in motion, applied the knowledge he gained to the depiction of the horse's legs in his first Philadelphia commission—the oil painting, The Fairman Rogers' Four in Hand, in which ironically the carriage wheels arc blurred as if moving while the horses' hooves are frozen in one phase of their movement. In his own studies of motion, Eakins, who started to make photographs as soon as dry plates became available, preferred to work with apparatus that registered the successive phases of action on one plate, as can be seen in History of a Jump, a frequently reproduced work.

EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE

(b Kingston-on-Thames, 9 April 1830; d Kingston-on-Thames, 8 May 1904).

English photographer, active in the USA. He was the first to analyse motion successfully by using a sequence of photographs and resynthesizing them to produce moving pictures on a screen. His work has been described as the inspiration behind the invention of the motion picture.


EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE. Eakins's Hand, from Animal Locomotion, 1887.
Collotype. Museum of the Philadelphia Civic Center.

 


THOMAS EAKINS. Amelia Van Buren with a Cat, c. 1891.
Platinum print. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

 


THOMAS EAKINS. History of a Jump, 1884-85.
Gelatin silver print. Philadelphia Museum of Art; gift of George Bregler.

Marey's contribution to the photographic documentation of movement was made in conjunction with his primary vocation of physiology, for which he initially had devised graphic methods of recording skeletal and muscle movements. After reading about Muybridge's experiments in La Nature in 1878 (and later through personal contact with him), Marey turned to the camera as a more accurate tool for such documentation. Because he was more interested in schematic diagrams of muscle movements than in random, if timed, depictions of moving figures, he adapted for his own use the fusil photographique (photographic gun)—a camera inspired by the rotating bullet cylinder of a revolver—which Eakins also used. Originally, Marey produced a series of separate images with this apparatus but soon realized that more precise information could be gained if the sequential movements appeared on the same plate. For these timed images—called chronophotographs—Marey employed a rotating slit shutter and experimented with a variety of black and white garments on models who moved against similarly colored backdrops; eventually he settled on a figure clothed entirely in black with bright metal bands attached to the sides of the arms and legs, photographed against a black background. This yielded a "working geometric drawing"—a linear graph of 60 skeletal movements per second. As was true of other kinds of instantaneous studies, these images were to have a telling effect on concepts and styles in art as well as on the scientific understanding of movement.

Similar experiments in arresting motion were made by Anschiitz, who had studied photography in Berlin, in Munich with Franz Hanfstaengl, and in Vienna before returning to his native Prussia. Building on a series of stills of horses in morion that he had made with a shutter mounted in front of the plate, Anschiitz embarked on a project to produce instantaneous photographs of animals in the Breslau Zoo. Widely publicized, the most famous among these images are 120 exposures of the activities of a family of storks. By 1886 Anschiitz had adapted Muybridge's system of using multiple cameras to the very small instruments with which he worked, and with the aid of the Prussian ministries of war and education he continued to photograph both animal movements and army maneuvers, using a specially designed "Anschiitz" lens manufactured by the Goerz Company.

Three of the photographers involved in stop-motion experimentation envisaged the next logical step—the re-constitution of the appearance of movement by viewing the separate analytical images in rapid sequence. For this purpose Marey and Muybridge turned to a range of so-called philosophical toys, among them the Phenakistoscope (or zoetrope) and the Praxinoscope, both of which involved rotating cylinders or disks with a sequence of images on one moving element viewed through either counter-rotating or stationary slots on the other. This reconstitution of motion, suggested first by Sir John Herschel in 1867 and later by Marey in 1873, struck Stanford as a means to test the correctness of the photographic evidence seen in the stills; therefore Muybridge worked out the Zoopraxiscope (pi. no. 206), a device consisting of a glass disk on which images were arranged equidistantly in consecutive order, with a slotted counter-rotating viewer; its function, as stated by its designer, was "for synthetically demonstrating movements analytically photographed from life." These first "motion pictures" were seen by the Stanford family in Palo Alto in 1879, and two years later during Muybridge's trip abroad they were projected for audiences of influential European artists and intellectuals. Anschutz's endeavor in 1887 to reconstruct movement employing an Electro-Tachyscope, a device in which enlarged diapositives (slides), illuminated by a spark, revolved in sequence on a disk, was limited in effect because the small-format images were not projected but had to be viewed directly.



ETIENNE JULES MAREY. Falling Cat Sequence, c. 1880s. Gelatin silver prints.
National Museum of American History, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.




OTTOMAR ANSCHUTZ. Series of Storks in Flight, 1884.
Gelatin silver prints. Agfa-Gevaert Foto-Historama, Cologne, Germany.



Science and art became more profoundly intertwined when the camera began to supply evidence of animal movement beyond what even the most naturalistically inclined artist was capable of seeing. Stop-motion photography and the various publications attracted a wide spectrum of artists working in a variety of styles, among them the salon painters Adolphe William Bouguereau and Franz von Lenbach, the realist Edgar Degas, the Pre-Raphaelite John Everett Millais, the expressionist Auguste Rodin, and the symbolist James Abbott McNeill Whistler. As in the past, many painters used the newly revealed informatio correct inaccurate representation and to make their work appear more naturalistic, as was true of Jean-Lo sonier, a French painter of prestigious historical scenes, some of which he altered to conform to the new knowledge. Other artists became engrossed with the idea of movement and time, integrating various views of the same object seen in several positions as the theme of their paintings and creating images suggestive of the fluidity of situations and events. For example, Degas, an enthusiast who was himself a sensitive photographer, conveyed lively animation by painting on a single canvas the same seated dancer in a variety of positions.

Time, movement, and change exerted an even greater fascination on the early-20th-century European painters who sought a new language to express the shifting realities of their own era. Photography may have been blamed by a small group of these avant-garde artists for a "disgraceful alteration" in seeing, but, as Aaron Scharf has pointed out. "stop-motion camera imagery, in particular the geometric diagrams of Marey, with their emphasis on pattern and movement, offered Cubist, Vorticist, and Futurist painters a fresh vocabulary." In the most famous of a number of such examples, Nude Descending a Staircase, French artist Marcel Duchamp adapted Marey's schema to transform the posed female nude—conventionally an expression of immobility—into a supremely energetic statement that proclaims its modernism while maintaining a tie to hallowed tradition. Of all those seeking to embody the vitality of their time in the painted image, Duchamp most clearly recognized that photography in all its ramifications had subverted the long-standing relationship between the artists and the conventions of painting. Interest in the graphic depiction of movement based on Marey's studies reached a climax among European artists of the Cubist and Futurist movements between 1911 and 1914. but other kinds of stop-motion photographs have continued to artists everywhere up to the present.
 

Instantaneous Photographs of Everyday Life

Whether facing the natural landscape or the urban scene, many photographers other than those investigating motion for scientific reasons found that they, too, were eager to arrest the continuous flux of life, to scrutinize and savor discrete segments of time, and to capture them on glass plates and, later, film. As noted, this first became possible with the short-focal-length lenses on stereograph cameras. Roger Fenton, for example, was able to capture the forms of flowing water and fleeting clouds on the stereograph plate. By 1859, Edward Anthony in New York, George Washington Wilson in Edinburgh, and Adolphe Braun and Hippolyte Jouvin in Paris— among others—had begun to make and publish stereograph views of the "fleeting effects'1 of crowds and traffic on die principal streets of urban centers and, in Jouvin's case, in marketplaces, public gardens, and at festive events. Acclaimed because they seemed to embody "all . . . life and motion," these views also disclose the distinctiveness of different cultural environments. Stereographs of city streets reveal at a glance the profound dissimilarities between public life in New York and Paris, for example, while others make visible the contrast between social conditions in industrialized countries and in those being opened to colonization and exploitation.

That this interest in the flux of urban life engaged painters of the time as well as photographers is apparent in canvases by the French Impressionists that seem to capture as if by camera the moving forms of people and traffic in the streets and parks of Paris. Besides a preference for high horizons and blurred figures, similar to that seen in numbers of stereographs of city streets and exemplified in Claude Monet's Boulevard des Capucines (pi. no. 303)—a view actually painted from Nadar's studio—the Impressionists broke with tradition in their preference for accidental-looking arrangements of figures that appear to be sliced through by the edges of the canvas in the manner of the photographic plate. Certain canvases by these painters also mimic the optical distortions of figure and space visible in stereographs, suggesting that, as Scharf observed, "photography must be accorded consideration in any discussion of the character of Impressionist painting."

The appeal of the spontaneous and informal continued unabated during the last decade of the 19th century and resulted in the extraordinary popular interest in small, hand-held single-lens cameras that would simplify the taking of informal pictures. Of all the apparatus developed to fulfill this need, the most sensational was the Kodak camera, first marketed in 1888 by its inventor George Eastman.

However, this fixed-focus box did more than make it easy for people to take pictures of everyday events; by making the developing and printing independent of the exposure it encouraged a new constituency to make photographs and inaugurated the photo-processing industry.

The Kodak and the snapshot (Herschel's term to describe instantaneous exposures) were promoted through astute advertising campaigns that appealed to animal lovers, bicyclists, campers, women, sportsmen, travelers, and tourists. Freed from the tedium of darkroom work, large numbers of middle-class amateurs in Europe and the United States used the Kodak during leisure hours to depict family and friends at home and at recreation, to record the ordinary rather than the spectacular. Besides serving as sentimental mementos, these unpretentious images provided later cultural historians with descriptive information about everyday buildings, artifacts, and clothing—indisputable evidence of the popular taste of an era.

The convenience of merely pressing the buttor resulted in a deluge of largely unexceptional pictures. Despite the suggestion today that the "aesthetic quality of the snapshot has received less attention than it deserves," most were made solely as personal records by individuals of modest visual ambitions. Untutored in either art or science, they tended to regard the image in terms of its subject rather than as a visual statement that required decisions about where to stand, what to include, how best to use the light. Further, since they were untroubled by questions of print size or quality, they mostly ignored the craft elements of photographic expression. This attitude, coupled with the fact that "even' Tom, Dick and Harrv could get something or other onto a sensitive plate," contributed to the emerging polarity between documentary images—assumed to be entirely artless—and artistic photographs conceived by their makers (and others) to embody aesthetic ideas and feelings.

Nevertheless, whether by accident or design, snapshots do on occasion portray with satisfying formal vigor moments that seem excised from the seamless flow of life. For one thing, the portability of the instrument enabled the user to view actuality from excitingly different vantage points, as in a 1900 image made by French novelist Emile Zola from the Eiffel Tower looking down. In its organization of space it presented an intriguing pattern of architectural members and human figures, foreshadowing the fascination with spatial enigmas that would be explored more fully by photographers in the 1910s and '20s. In a different vein, the small camera made possible the refreshing directness visible in images of small-town life by Horace Engle, an American engineer who used a Gray Stirn Concealed Vest camera before turning to the Kodak. Because the camera was so easy to use, a photographer stationed behind a window or door, as Engle sometimes was, might intuitively manage light and form to explore private gestures and expressions that almost certainly would be withheld were his presence known. This urge to ensnare ephemeral time, so to speak, also foreshadowed developments of the late 1920s when the sophisticated small Leica camera made "candid" street photography a serious pursuit among photojournalists. Viewed in sequence rather than singly, snapshots some-times suggest an underlying theme or the emotional texture of an event in the manner of later photojournalistic picture stories and might be considered forerunners in this sense, too.


EMILE ZOLA. A Restaurant, Taken from the First Floor or Staircase of the Eiffel Tower, Paris, 1900.
Gelatin silver print. Collection Dr. Francois Emile Zola, Gif-sur-Yvette, France.

 


HORACE ENGLE. Unknown Subjea, Roanoke, Virginia, c. 1901.
Gelatin silver print from the original negative.
Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park.

However, despite the claim that "the man with a box-camera has as many chances of preserving pleasure as those blessed (?) [sic] with the more expensive instruments," the Kodak in itself was limited in scope. But the spontaneity it emblematized appealed to many serious photographers, who armed themselves with a more sensitive apparatus of a similar nature—the hand camera. Individuals of both sexes, from varying backgrounds and classes, of differing aesthetic persuasions, who usually processed their own work, produced the kind of imagen' that for want of a better term has come to be called documentation. Turning to the quotidian life of cities and villages for inspiration, artists used the hand camera as a sketchbook, pictorialists tried to evoke the urban tempo, and still others found it a disarming device with which to conquer the anonymity of modern life. Serious workers rather than snapshooters. this new breed of image-maker sought to express a personal vision that embraced the special qualities of the time and place in which they lived.

The invasion of personal privacy that the small camera user could effect with ease became an issue in the late 19th century—one that still elicits discussion today. The question of propriety was raised when individuals and groups of amateurs, often organized into camera and bicycle clubs, began to photograph unwitting people in the streets and at play. Reaction ran the gamut from the gentle satire of an 1887 cartoon in Britain's Amateur Photographer to more strident denunciations in which "hand-camera fiends" were admonished to refrain from photographing "ladies as they emerge from their morning dip, loving couples, private picnicking parties" under threat of having their cameras "forcibly emptied." Indeed, it has been suggested that the many images of working-class people in the streets around the turn of the century may reflect the fact that they were less likely than middle-class folk to protest when they saw strangers approaching with a camera.

Street life began to attract hand-camera enthusiasts (and some using larger equipment, as well) partly because it offered an uncommon panorama of picturesque subjects. Previously, photographers in search of visual antidotes for the depressing uniformity of life in industrialized societies had cither ventured abroad to exotic lands or had searched out quaint pastoral villages as yet untouched by industrial activity. They also had photographed the city's poor and ethnic minorities for their picturesqueness. As urbanization advanced, documentarians, Pictorialists, hand-camera enthusiasts, and even some who worked with large-format cameras were drawn by the animated and vigorous street life in the city to depict with less artifice the variety of peoples and experiences to be found in urban slum and working-class neighborhoods.

To some extent, the career of Paul Martin, working in London from about 1884 on, typifies the changes that occurred in the practice, usage, and character of photography everywhere. When Martin began an apprenticeship as an engraver, he first came in contact with photography as a useful resource for the illustrator. He taught himself the craft from magazines that, along with amateur photography clubs, provided technical assistance and aesthetic guidelines to growing numbers of hand-camera enthusiasts. Some, like Martin, were working people from moderate backgrounds who were unable to afford expensive camera equipment or time-consuming processes that used the platinum and carbon materials favored by aesthetic photographers. Martin became an accomplished craftsman nevertheless, adept at making composites, vignetting, and solving technical problems connected with photographing out-of-doors at night. During the 1890s, a number of his straight silver prints were awarded prizes in competitions despite being judged at times as lacking in atmosphere and being too "map-like."

Recent investigations have turned up numbers of photographers of the quotidian scene, both in cities and in rural localities. In many cases the photographers remain unknown, despite the fact that such images frequently were reproduced on postcards when this form of communication grew in popularity. Among those who supplied images for this purpose were Roll and Vert in France and Emil Mayer in Austria. Photographing daily life attracted women, who were beginning to become involved in photography in greater numbers. Amelie Galup and Jenny de Vasson in France, Christina Broom in England, and Alice Austen and Chansonetta Stanley Emmons in the United States were among the many who took cameras into streets and rural byways, Because the images are of scenes that take place in the home and workplace as well as on the street, at times they may seem similar to the social imagery by John Thomson in London and Jacob Riis in New York—social photographers who worked in the slums of their respective cities. However, the emotional tone in these works usually is lighthearted and the scenes casually composed.

Martin claimed that he became a street photographer because he lacked the financial means to become a Pictorialist, but in fact, enthusiasm for "real life" cut across class lines, appealing to a broad sector of the population that included wealthy individuals typified by Giuseppe Primoli and Jacques Henri Lartigue. Primoli, a Bonaparte descendant who numbered among his circle the intellectual and cultural elite of Italy and France, worked between 1889 and 1905 (at first with a brother) to document the doings of beggars, laborers, street vendors, and performers, as well as the carefree pursuits of his own social class. Mostly amiable in tone, with open space surrounding the figures that are the focus of attention, Primoli's images could also be intense, as evidenced by the strong contrasts and spatial compression in a view of a religious procession in Ariccia.

The search for the unexpected in the tedium of daily occurrence was another aspect of hand-camera street photography of the time. As urbanization advanced, it swept away the distinctive physical and social characteristics of the culture of the past, substituting undifferentiated built environments and standardized patterns of dress and behavior. Hand-camera users endeavored to reaffirm individuality and arrest time in the face of the encroaching depersonalization of existence. The French photographer Lartigue was exceptional in that he was given a hand camera in 1901 at the age of seven and continued to use it throughout his lifetime to chronicle the unexpected. His early work portrayed the idiosyncratic behavior of his zany upper-class family whose wealth and quest for modernity impelled them to try out all the latest inventions and devices of the time, from electric razors to automobiles to flying machines. The young Lartigue's intuitive sensitivity to line, strong contrast, and spatial ambiguity, as seen in a view made in the Bois de Boulogne in 1911, evokes the insouciance of affluent Europeans before the first World War, a quality that is visible also in many images by unnamed photographers who worked for the illustrated press at the time.



PAUL MARTIN. Entrance to Victoria Park, c. 1893.
Gelatin silver print. Gcrnsheim Collection, Humanities Research Center, Universitv of Texas, Austin.




GIUSEPPE PRIMOLI. Procession, Ariaia, c. 1895.
Gelatin silver print. Fondazione Primoli, Rome.

 

ACQUES HENRI LARTIGUE

Jacques Henri Lartigue (June 13, 1894 - September 12, 1986) was a French photographer and painter.
Born in Courbevoie (a city outside of Paris) to a wealthy family, he is most famous for his stunning photos of automobile races, planes and fashionable Parisian women from the turn of the century.
He started taking photos when he was 6, his subject matter being primarily his own life and the people and activities in it. As a child he photographed his friends and family at play – running and jumping, racing wheeled soap boxes, building kites, gliders and aeroplanes, climbing the Eiffel Tower and so on. He also photographed many famous sporting events, including automobile races such as the Coupe Gordon Bennett and the French Grand Prix, early flights by aviation pioneers including Gabriel Voisin, Louis Blériot, and Roland Garros, and tennis players such as Suzanne Lenglen at the French Open tennis championships.

Although little seen in that format, many of his earliest and most famous photographs were originally taken in stereo, but he also produced vast numbers of images in all formats and media including glass plates in various sizes, some of the earliest autochromes, and of course film in 2 1/4” square and 35mm. His greatest achievement was his set of around 120 huge photograph albums, which compose the finest visual autobiography ever produced. While he sold a few photographs in his youth, mainly to sporting magazines such as La Vie au Grand Air, in middle age he concentrated on his painting, and it was through this that he earned his living, although he maintained written and photographic journals throughout his life. Only when he was 69 were his boyhood photographs serendipitously discovered by Charles Rado of the Rapho agency, who introduced him to John Szarkowski, then curator of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, who in turn arranged an exhibition of his work at the museum.

From this, there was a photo spread in Life magazine in 1963, coincidentally in the issue which commemorated the death of John Kennedy, ensuring the widest possible audience for his pictures.
By then as he received stints for fashion magazines, he was famous in other countries other than his native France, when until 1974 he was commissioned by the newly elected President of France Valéry Giscard d'Estaing to shoot an official portrait photograph. The result was a simple photo of him without the use of lighting utilising the national flag as a background. He was rewarded with his first French retrospective at the Musée des Arts Décoratifs at the following year and had more commissions from fashion and decoration magazines flooding in for the rest of his life.
His first book, Diary of a Century was published soon afterwards in collaboration with Richard Avedon, and from then on innumerable books and exhibitions throughout the world have featured Lartigue's photographs. He continued taking photographs throughout the last three decades of his life, finally achieving the commercial success that had previously evaded this rather unworldly man.

Although best known as a photographer, Lartigue was a capable if not especially gifted painter and showed in the official salons in Paris and in the south of France from 1922 on. He was friends with a wide selection of literary and artistic celebrities including the playwright Sacha Guitry, the singer Yvonne Printemps, the painters Kees van Dongen, Pablo Picasso and the artist-playwright-filmmaker Jean Cocteau. He also worked on the sets of the film-makers Jacques Feyder, Abel Gance, Robert Bresson, François Truffaut and Federico Fellini, and many of these celebrities became the subject of his photographs. Lartigue, however, photographed everyone he came in contact with, his most frequent muses being his three wives, and his mistress of the early 1930s, the Romanian model Renée Perle.



JACQUES HENRI LARTIGUE. Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, 1911.
Gelatin silver print.
 

Other photographers sought out moments of extreme contrast of class and dress, as in Fortune Teller by Horace W. Nicholls, a professional photojournalist who recorded the self-indulgent behavior of the British upper class before World War I. Others celebrated moments of uncommon exhilaration, a mood that informs Handstands by Heinrich Zille, a graphic artist who used photography in his portrayal of working-class life in Berlin around 1900. Still others, Stieglitz among them, looked for intimations of tenderness and compassion to contrast with the coldness and impersonality of the city, exemplified in The Terminal and other works made soon after Stieglitz returned to New York from Germany in 1890.

Indeed, in the United States at the turn of the century, photographers were specifically urged to open their eyes to the "picturesqucness" of die city, to depict its bridges and structures, to leave the "main thoroughfares and descend to the slums where an animated street life might be seen. In part, this plea reflected the conviction held by Realist painters, illustrators, pictorial and documentary photographers, joined by social reformers, educators, and novelists, that the social life of the nation was nurtured in the cities, that cities held a promise of excitement in their freedom from conformity and ignorance. Stieglitz, in whose magazine the article appeared, confessed in 1897 that after opposing the hand camera for years, he (and other Pictorialist photographers) had come to regard it as an important means of evoking the character of contemporary life. His suggestion that those using the hand camera study their surroundings and "await the moment when everything is in balance" seems to have forecast a way of seeing that 30 years later became known as the "decisive moment." Whether undertaken consciously or not, the endeavor to assert the prodigal human spirit by capturing the fortuitous moment long remained one of the leitmotifs of 20th-century small-camera photography.

Nor was this development limited to New York. Soon after arriving in California from Germany in 1895, the young Arnold Genthe obeyed his "vagabond streak," as he called it, to photograph with a concealed hand camera in the reputedly inhospitable Chinese quarter of San Francisco. Over the next ten years, he returned continually to the "Canton of the West" in search of tantalizing glimpses of an unusual culture. The images range from the Pictorial to the reportorial, a dichotomy that continued to characterize his work. As owner of a professional studio in San Francisco at the time of the 1906 eardiquake, Genthe documented the aftermath of the disaster with fine dramatic clarity, but after relocating in New York he specialized in polished soft-focus portraits of dancers and theatrical figures.

Ethnic enclaves were not the only source nor was the small camera the only instrument for capturing the kinds of subjects now considered picturesque. Countless photographers began to document aspects of the life around them using large-plate view cameras to penetrate beyond surface appearances. That the city could be approached as a subject using a large-format camera and photographed with reserved grace rather than subjective urgency can be seen in the images made by Robert L. Bracklow, an amateur photographer of means, to document the physical structures, architectural details, and street activity in New York at the turn of the century. With a flair for well-organized composition, Bracklow's photographs of slums, shanties, and skyscrapers suggest that by the end of the 19th century both hand and view cameras had become a significant recreational resource. For instance, E. J. Bellocq, a little-known commercial photographer working in New Orleans during the 1910s, was able to pierce the facade of life in a Storyville brothel. Whether commissioned or, as is more likely, made for his own pleasure, these arrangements of figure and decor project a melancholy languor that seems to emanate from both real compassion and a voyeuristic curiosity satisfied by the camera lens.


HORACE W. NICHOLLS. The Fortune Teller, 1910.
Gelatin silver print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.




HEINRICH ZILLE. Handstands, c. 1900.
Gelatin silver print. Schirmer/Mosel, Munich.

HEINRICH ZILLE

Rudolf Heinrich Zille (January 10, 1858 - August 9, 1929), German illustrator and photographer, was born in Radeburg near Dresden, as the son of watchmaker Johann Traugott Zill (Zille since 1854) and Ernestine Louise (born Heinitz). In 1867, his family moved to Berlin, where he finished school in 1872 and started an apprenticeship as a lithographer.
In 1883, he married Hulda Frieske, with whom he had three children. She died in 1919.
Zille became best known for his (often funny) drawings, catching the characteristics of people, especially "stereotypes", mainly from Berlin and many of them published in the German weekly satirical newspaper Simplicissimus. He was first to portray the desperate social environment of the Berlin Mietskasernen (literally tenement barracks), buildings packed with sometimes a dozen persons per room that fled from land to the rising Gründerzeit industrial metropolis only to find even deeper poverty in the developing proletarian class.

Zille did not feel himself as a real artist: he often said that his work is not the result of talent but merely hard work. Max Liebermann nevertheless promoted him. He called him into the Berlin Secession in 1903, put his works in expositions of the upper class, and encouraged him to sell drawings - and at the time Zille lost his job as a lithographer in 1910 he encouraged him to live from his drawings alone. The Berlin "Common People" tolled him the greatest respect, and very late in life his fame culminated in the roaring twenties with the National Gallery to buy some drawings in 1921, the Academy of the Arts to honour him with a professorship in 1924, Gerhard Lamprecht to make a movie of his stories in 1925 "Die Verrufenen", and his 70th birthday was celebrated at large in Berlin. He died one year later.
Less known is that he was the artist of many erotic pictures which are close to pornography but also show the life of normal people. Some of them can be seen in the Beate Uhse Erotic Museum in Berlin. In 1983 director Werner W. Wallroth made an East German movie based on a musical written by Dieter Wardetzky and Peter Rabenalt. This movie Zille und Ick (Zille and I in Berlin Dialect) isn't a real biopic but uses parts of Zille's life for the story.



HEINRICH ZILLE. Ruckenansicht, August 1901




HEINRICH ZILLE. The Wood Gatherers, 1898




HEINRICH ZILLE. The Wood Gatherers





HEINRICH ZILLE. Frau auf einem Karussellpferd reitend, August 1900

 


ROBERT L. BRACKLOW. Statue of Virtue, New York, after 1909.
Gelatin silver print from the original negative. New-York Historical Society; Alexander Alland Collection.




ARNOLD GENTHE. Man and Girl in Chinatown, c. 1896.
Gelatin silver print. Sheldon Memorial Art Gallery, Universitv of Nebraska, Lincoln; F.M. Hall Collection.

ARNOLD GENTHE

Genthe was born in Berlin, Germany to Louise Zober and Hermann Genthe, a professor of Latin and Greek at the Graues Kloster (Grey Monastery) in Berlin. Arnold followed in his father's footsteps, becoming a classically trained scholar; he received a doctorate in philology in 1894 at the University of Jena, where he knew artist Adolf Menzel, his mother's cousin.
After emigrating to San Francisco in 1895 to work as a tutor, he taught himself photography. He was intrigued by the Chinese section of the city and photographed its inhabitants, from children to drug addicts, Due to his subjects' possible fear of his camera or their reluctance to have pictures taken, Genthe sometimes hid his camera. He sometimes removed evidence of Western culture from these pictures, cropping or erasing as needed. About 200 of his Chinatown pictures survive and these comprise the only known photographic depictions of the area before 1906 earthquake.
After local magazines published some of his photographs in the late 1890s, he opened a portrait studio. He knew some of the city's wealthy matrons, and as his reputation grew, his clientèle included Nance O'Neil, Sarah Bernhardt, and Jack London.
In 1906, the San Francisco earthquake and fire destroyed Genthe's studio, but he rebuilt. His photograph of the earthquake's aftermath, Looking Down Sacramento Street, San Francisco, April 18, 1906, is his most famous photograph.
In 1911 he moved to New York City, where he remained until his death of a heart attack in 1942. He worked primarily in portraiture and Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, and John D. Rockefeller all sat for him. His photos of Greta Garbo were credited with boosting her career. He also photographed modern dancers, including Anna Pavlova, Isadora Duncan, and Ruth St. Denis, and his photos were featured in the 1916 book, The Book of the Dance. He also was an early experimenter with the autochrome color photography process.


ARNOLD GENTHE. Isatora Duncan




E. J. BELLOCQ. From Storyville Portraits, c. 1913.
Silver print on prinring-out paper, made by Lee Fricdlander from the original plate.

Ernest James Bellocq

(b New Orleans, LA, 15 March 1873; d New Orleans, 1949).

American photographer. He is known to have worked as a commercial photographer in New Orleans from 1895 to 1940 and to have photographed for local shipbuilders and in the Chinese sector of New Orleans, although none of this work apparently survives. His photography is known only through prints made by Lee Friedlander from the 89 gelatin dry plate negatives found after Bellocq’s death. These negatives date from c. 1912 and are sympathetic portraits of prostitutes of New Orleans and interior views of their workplaces. Known as the Storyville Portraits, 34 were shown by MOMA, New York, in a travelling exhibition in 1970–71. Bellocq’s life was the subject of Pretty Baby (1978), a film by Louis Malle.

The new photographic technologies had a signal effect on the role of American women in photography. Simplified processing enabled greater numbers of "genteel" women to consider photography a serious avocation and even a profession, because by the late 1880s diey were able to take advantage also of the availability of domestic help and store-bought food, both of which provided some relief from household routines. At about the same time, writers in the popular and photographic press, suggesting that the medium was particularly suited to "the gender sex," urged women to consider "an accomplishment which henceforth may combine the maximum of grace and fascination. Encouragement came also from the Federation of Women Photographers and from competitions designed especially for female photographers. Unlike the older arts, photography did not require training in male-dominated academies, long periods of apprenticeship, or large commitments of time to practice, although greater involvement in the medium usually yielded more impressive results In addition to those who became prominent in photo-journalism and Pictorialism (see Chapters 8 and 9), many women used both hand and view cameras to document family life and domestic customs, recreational and street activities. Chansonetta Stanley Emmons and Alice Austen were two such women. Images of small-town life, typified by a scene in the village of Maryborough, New Hampshire (pi. no. 316), were made in 1900 by the recently widowed Emmons, who had turned to photography as a solace and a means of augmenting a meager income. Nurtured on genre imagery, Emmons's domestic scenes often were sen-timental and derivative, but she also could capture evanescent moments of childhood play with refreshing directness. Austen, originally from a well-to-do Staten Island family, was less typical in that she not only devoted some 25 years to a visual exploration of her own social milieu, but she also investigated the vibrant working-class neighborhoods of lower Manhattan (pi. no. 317) with an eye for expressive lighting and gesture. In Austen's case, as was undoubtedly true of other women, the camera provided a means to overcome psychological and social barriers, enabling a shy and conventionally reared Victorian "lady" to participate in the excitement of urban street life.




CHANSONETTA STANLEY EMMONS. Children at Well, 1900.
Gelatin silver print. Culver Pictures, New York.




ALICE AUSTEN. Hester Street, Egg Stand, 1895.
Gelatin silver print. Staten Island Historical Society, Staten Island. N.Y.;
Alice Austen Collection.
 

In die decade before 1900, the possibility that camera views of the city might be a salable commodity' began to interest individuals and commercial studios. Using view cameras and tripods as well as hand cameras, photographers working on their own or for photographic enterprises undertook to provide images for postcards and magazine reproduction, for antiquarian societies and libraries, and for artists and decorators, creating in the process a formidable number of such visual documentations. For instance, in New York between 1890 and 1910, Joseph Byron (descendant of a family of English photographers) was involved in a business with his wife and five children, including the well-known Percy; they exposed and processed almost 30,000 large-format views both on commission and on speculation. A similar pictorial record of Paris can be seen in the work of Paul Geniaux, Louis Vert, and the Seeberger brothers. These images comprise scenes of urban labors  as well as the activities of the bourgeoisie on their daily rounds. With exceptions, these competent if detached records of buildings, neighborhoods, sporting and theatrical events, people at play and at work arc interesting mainly for their rich fund of sociological information. The most extensive and in some judgments the most visually expressive document of the urban experience—also of Paris—was begun just before 1900 by Eugene Atget. Using a simple 18 x 24 centimeter camera mounted on a tripod, this former actor began to document the city and its environs for a varied clientele that included architects, decorators, painters, publishers, and sculptors. Aside from their value and use as descriptive records of buildings, decor, statuary, storefronts, costumes, and gardens, these beautifully composed images resonate with an intense though not easily defined passion. Rich in detail but not fussy, affecting but not sentimental, this great body of work represents Atget's yearning to possess all of old Paris and in so doing to embrace the authentic culture of France that modern technology was destroying. Other large-scale commercial documents often exhibited a patriotic character, reflecting the growing movements for national self-determination taking place in various parts of Europe. Forty thousand views of Irish life, which include scenes of work and play, of city thorough-fares and serene country landscape, were made by Robert French for the firm of William Lawrence in Dublin. And in view of the political agitation for independence among groups inhabiting the vast reaches of Russia, it is not surprising to find the tradition of ethnographic images, mentioned earlier, continuing into the dry-plate era, with photographers from many sections documenting places and customs in order to bolster feelings of national identity. Just as ethnographers in Eastern Europe were determined to collect evidence of a distinctive literature and folk music, photographers in Latvia, Bulgaria, Croatia, and Poland contributed to this surge of nationalism with images of national costume, typical environments, and regional customs. Since in these less industrialized regions the medium received less financial support from the urban populace than in Western Europe and the United States, distinctions between professional and amateur, between documentary and artistic were not as codified; the same individual might fulfill all these roles, might at the same time make commercial post cards and other documentations and submit works to the local camera club exhibitions. A similar ethnic consciousness emerged among black photographers in the United States in the early 20th century.

The demand for portraits and other kinds of pictorial records, coupled with easier access to equipment, materials, and processing resulted in an increase in the number of commercially successful studios run by black entrepreneurs in their own communities. From the early days of the medium, daguerreotypes and other camera portraits had been made by unheralded black photographers, but these later enterprises produced images that depicted, in addition, the social activities of upwardly mobile urban dwellers and life in rural communities, made both for commerce and as expressions of black pride. Addison N. Scurlock started a portrait studio in Washington in 1904 and soon began to document activities at Howard University where he was official photographer; Waterfront, 1915, is suggestive of his feeling for mood and texture when not confined to portraiture or straight documentation. James Van Der Zee, probably the best-known black studio photographer in the United States, began a professional career in 1915, opening an establishment in Harlem a year later to which the well-to-do and famous came for portraits. He also documented social activities for the community and made genre images for his own pleasure. Had these photographers not faced the necessity of earning a living in studio work, both might have produced such images more frequently, a situation that obviously was true also for the majority of commercial photographers everywhere who were able to make affecting documents of their social milieu only in the time spared from studio work. Unlike white Americans, however, black photographers could not afford the leisure and financial freedom to indulge in personal expression nor were they able to find a niche in photojournalism, advertising photography, or social documentation until after the second World War. Anyone who has poked around attics, antique shops, and secondhand bookstores is aware of the formidable quantities of photographic post cards that have accumulated since camera techniques were simplified in the late 19th century. The post card format—approximately 31/4 x 5 1/2 inches—appeared in Europe in 1869 and shortly after in the United States, but it was not until after the happy conjunction of new rural postal regulations, hand cameras, and special printing papers that occurred shortly after the turn of the century that the picture card became immensely popular with Americans—individuals and commercial studios alike. Artless yet captivating, post card images (even when turned out in studios) display a kind of irreverent good humor in their depictions of work, play, children, and pets, although they also could deal with grimmer realities. In thee absence of telephones, glossy picture magazines, and television, the photographic postcard was not merely a way to keep in touch but a form of education and entertainment as well.



HENRI, and LOUIS SEEBERGER (SEEBERGER FRERES). Fishermen near Washerwoman's Boats, c. 1905-10.
Gelatin silver print. Caisse Nationals des Monuments Historiques et des Sites, Paris.
 



ROBERT FRENCH. Claudy River, Gweedore, County Donegal, c. 1890.
Gelatin silver print. National Library of Ireland, Dublin.




ADDISON N. SCURLOCK. Waterfront, 1915.
Gelatin silver print.

 


JAMES VAN DER ZEE. Couple in Raccoon Coats, 1932.
Gelatin silver print. James Van Der Zee Estate, New York;



UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (American). Untitled, z. 1900-10.
Gelatin silver post card. Private Collection.
 


BERENICE ABBOTT. Portrait of Eugene Atget, c. 1927.
Gelatin silver print. Witkin Gallery, Inc., New York.

 

 
 
 

 
 
 
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