The School of Musketry at Hythe, c. 1860
An albumen print showing soldiers from different regiments at the School of Musketry at Hythe in Kent. An inked inscription in a period hand in the lower margin reads ‘School of Musketry Evening Class.’ Several other images in the same album were dated November 1860.
Established in 1853 by Lord Hardinge, the Hythe School of Musketry was charged with maintaining the proficiency of the army in the use of small arms, support weapons and range management. The Hythe Manual of Musketry Instruction, ironically a translation of an earlier French manual, quickly became the standard for all musketry training.
Verso presents a portrait of a handsome young officer serving in the 2nd (The Queen’s Royal) Regiment of Foot. A pencilled inscription identifies him as ‘Dicky Bird’ in inverted commas. An inked inscription gives his regiment and the location, which is Walmer. His clipped autograph is also pasted into the lower margin.
Condition: the print is in very fine condition, with excellent tonal range. The album page presents a couple of nicks at its edges and a short tear at its lower edge.
Dimensions: the print measures 4.6” by 6.7” (11.7 cm by 17.1 cm); the album page measures 11.4” by 9” (29 cm by 22.8 cm).
The wreck of the Rob Roy, 1868
Richard H. Barrett of Gloucester
A large format albumen print showing the derailed Rob Roy, a Great Western Railway locomotive. On 5 November 1868 it crashed into the back of a cattle truck at Awse Junction near Newnham in Gloucestershire. Three men were killed – a farmer, a cattle drover and a railway guard – and six were injured in the collision.
According to a report on the investigation into the accident, ‘The Rob Roy is the largest broad-gauge engine ever built, weighing 40 tons. It was constructed by Stephenson, and to the great strength of is material and build the engine-driver and fireman, and very probably the passengers, owe their lives. The comparatively little damage sustained by the engine is truly remarkable, considering that it was going at something like 45 miles an hour when it encountered the opposing body. […] The scene that immediately followed the collision is said to have been something dreadful, occasioned by the cries and struggles of the poor cattle, the larger number of which died from suffocation. Many, however, were found so crushed that their carcases were held together only by their skins.’
The Rob Roy, on the other hand, emerged relatively unscathed. ‘The forcing in of the smoke-box, the bending of the buffers, and the splitting of the 3 inch steal tire on the fore near wheel is all the damage done to the Rob Roy, the whole of which it is said can be repaired for a fifty-pound note. This, however, is not the case with the cattle trucks. They were built in the usual way, covered with sheet iron roofs. These, however, were no more than sheets of paper under the pressure of the Rob Roy, so that they fell in upon the cattle, smothering and crushing them to atoms. As soon as practicable the live beasts were extricated from their plunging positions, but before this could be done many of them half kicked each other to death’ (Gloucester Journal, 14 November 1868).
Photographed by Richard H. Barrett of Gloucester.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with good tonal range. It is mounted on a piece of cream-coloured card, which is clean, crisp and firm. A blindstamp at the lower right-hand corner identifies the photographer. The word ‘Copyright’ has been inked in the lower margin in an elegant copperplate script, although Barrett in fact never entered the image at Stationers’ Hall.
Dimensions: the print measures 7.8” by 9.7” (19.8 cm by 24.4 cm); the mount measures 9.5” by 12” (24.1 cm by 30.5 cm).
The Pither family of Long Sutton, 1863
A small albumen print showing a group of musicians, identified as the ‘Sutton Church Musicians’ in a period hand in the lower margin, underneath which their names are given. The sitters can easily be found on the 1861 census. All five of them were born in Long Sutton; the three older members of the family were thatchers by trade.
The portrait is dated 1863. When the photograph was taken, Stephen, seen here on the right, would have 37 years old (he died on 18 April 1886, at the age of 79); George, seen here in the centre, would have been 49 (he died on 20 July 1884, aged 70). The other sitters are George’s sons: Robert, aged 22, a thatcher like his father; Zenas, aged 14; and Amos, aged 13.
The dates of Stephen’s and George’s deaths are on tombstones in the churchyard at Long Sutton, Hampshire.
Condition: the print presents a couple of very small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition. The mount has yellowed a little with age along one edge but is otherwise crisp and clean. The reverse of the mount is blank.
Dimensions: the print measures 2.6” by 3.2” (6.5 cm by 8 cm). It is mounted on a slightly larger section of cut-down album page.
Collecting alms in Italy, c. 1875
An albumen print showing a member of a religious brotherhood in Italy collecting alms for a charitable cause. During the Middle Ages, these confraternities operated on a level somewhere between the religious and the civic. Volunteers were able to ease their passage into the next world through the performance of acts of charity for those members of society most in need of assistance. The Misericordia of Florence – with a name derived from the Latin for ‘mercy’ – were among the most recognisable.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in very good condition. It is mounted on a crisp, clean, cut-down section of album page.
Dimensions: the print measures 5.7” by 3.9” (14.5 cm by 9.8 cm); the section of album page measures 7.5” by 4.9” (19.1 cm by 12.5 cm).
Syphilide pigmentaire, 1868 or 1872
Doctor Pierre-Michel-Arthur de Montmeja
An albumen print showing a woman suffering from Syphilide Pigmenataire, according to a caption printed in the lower margin.The English translation would be ‘pigmentary syphilide.’ A syphilide (plural syphilides) is a cutaneous eruption due to syphilis. Nowadays, the term ‘leucoderma syphiliticum,’ or LS for short, is preferred. It encompasses a spectrum of dyschromic lesions that emerge during the course of secondary syphilis.
The photograph was originally one of the illustrations in a book titled Clinique Photographique des maladies de le peau by Dr Alfred Hardy and Dr Pierre-Michel-Arthur de Montmeja. First published in 1868 with a second edition appearing in 1872, the book presented studies of patients suffering from various skin diseases at the Hôpital Saint-Louis in Paris.
The book was published for a third time in 1882 with the illustrations reproduced as Woodburytypes but the photograph offered here is an albumen print from one of the earlier editions.
Doctor Hardy had earlier published a similar work titled Leçons sur les maladies de la peau in 1860.
Photographed by Dr A. de Montmeja.
Condition: The print presents a few small imperfections and some discolouration in the area of the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, with good tonal range. The stiff piece of clean card on which it is mounted is also in excellent condition, with crisp edges and sharp corners.
Dimensions: the print measures 4.7" by 3.5" (11.9 cm by 9 cm); the page on which it is mounted measures 11.1" by 7.7" (28.3 cm by 19.7 cm).
Prisoners in New Caledonia, c. 1880
An albumen print showing five prisoners lined up under the gaze of a guard in the courtyard of a prison in New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific, then a French dependency, now an overseas territory of France. A pencilled inscription in the lower margin reads: ‘Interior Prison, New Caledonia.’
France took formal possession of New Caledonia in 1853. In 1864 it became a penal colony and from then until the end of transportation in 1897 about 22,000 criminals and political prisoners were sent to New Caledonia. The last prison closed in 1923.
The reverse of the album page carries a similarly sized photographed showing a much wider view of another compound, titled ‘Cavalry Barracks, Noumea, N.C.’ in the lower margin (scan available on request).
Photographer unidentified, but possibly by Allan Hughan (1834-1883), who established a studio in Noumea in 1871.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The album page has warped very slightly in its upper and lower margins and presents a small amount of light foxing.
Dimensions: the print measures 7” by 9” (17.9 cm by 23 cm); the album page on which it is mounted measures 9.4” by 11.4” (23.8 cm by 29.3 cm).
Prison haircuts in New Caledonia, c. 1880
An albumen print showing two prisoners receiving haircuts in the courtyard of a prison in New Caledonia, while more prisoners wait in line against the wall.
A survey of 1888 indicated that on 1 May that year there were 10,428 convicts on the island, including 2329 who had served their sentence and been freed. Those imprisoned included many Communards, convicted for their part in the Paris Commune of 1871, among them Henri de Rochefort and Louise Michel.
The reverse of the album page shows a similarly sized photograph showing a group of some twenty Kanaks in the forest within a vignette (scan available on request).
Photographer unidentified, but possibly by Allan Hughan (1834-1883), a ship’s captain who, after being shipwrecked, established a studio in Noumea in 1871.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The album page has warped very slightly in its upper and lower margins and presents a small amount of light foxing.
Dimensions: the print measures 7” by 8.1” (17.8 cm by 20.7 cm); it is mounted on an album page measuring 9.4” by 11.5” (23.9 cm by 29.2 cm).
Kandyan chiefs, c. 1875
Skeen and Co of Ceylon (attrib.)
An albumen print portrait of Kandyan chiefs dating from the mid-1870s. An inked inscription in a period hand in the lower margin reads ‘Group of Kandian Chiefs.’
Photographed by either Skeen and Co of Ceylon or Scowan and Co of Ceylon.
Condition: the print presents a few small marks in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition. The album page presents a small amount of faint foxing in one margin but is otherwise crisp and clean.
Dimensions: the print measures 8.4" by 11.1" (21.5 cm by 28.2 cm) and is mounted on a larger album page of firm, stiff paper.
Scenes in the Andaman Islands, c. 1870s
Four albumen prints showing locations in the Andaman Islands, including one (top left) showing the site where Lord Mayo, the Viceroy of India, was assassinated in 1872.
Richard Southwell Bourke succeeded his father as Earl of Mayo in 1867. He was three times chief secretary of Ireland before becoming viceroy and governing-general of India in 1869. During his time in India he developed roads, railways, and canals, created a department of commerce and agriculture, and improved Indian finances by introducing financial decentralization. He also founded the Mayo College of Ajmir for the education of the sons of Indian chiefs. On 8 February 1872, while making a visit to inspect the penal settlement at Port Blair in the Andaman Islands, Lord Mayo was murdered by a Pathan convict, who stabbed him twice in the back as he was returning to his vessel in the evening.
The other three photographs offered here are inscribed ‘The Pier, Point Blair, Andamans,’ ‘The Bazaar Ross, Andamans,’ and ‘Mount Harriet, Andaman Islands.’
A fifth photograph (not shown) is inscribed ‘Bungalow, Mount Harriet, Andamans.’
Condition: please see scans. All four prints are in fine condition, with good tonal range. The two album pages on which they are mounted have warped and delaminated very slightly along the lower edge.
Dimensions: the print showing the location of Lord Mayo’s murder measures 4.1” by 3.6” (10.4 cm by 9.2 cm). The print showing ‘Mount Harriet’ is approximately the same size. The print showing the pier at Point Blair measures 4.2” by 3.7” (10.7 cm by 9.5 cm) and the one showing the bazaar is approximately the same size. The two album pages on which they are mounted measure 10.1” by 7.55” (25.6 cm by 19.2 cm).
Yaqui man from Sonora in Mexico
An albumen print portrait of a Yaqui man carrying an enormous pot.
The Yaqui are an indigenous people of Mexico who inhabit the valley of the Rio Yaqui in the Mexican state of Sonora and the southwestern United States. They also have communities in Chihuahua, Durango and Sinaloa.
An inked inscription recto in the lower margin reads: ‘A Yacki Indian (Province) Sonora.’
Condition: please see scans. The print presents a couple of small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, with good tonal range. The section of album page on which it’s mounted is clean, firm and solid.
Dimensions: the print measures 5.8” by 4” (14.8 cm by 10.2 cm) and is mounted on a slightly larger section of cut-down album page.
‘Queen Marwe,' c. 1895
W. Rausch of Bulawayo
A silver gelatin print portrait of a Matabele (Ndebele) woman identified in the negative as ‘Queen Marwe,’ more correctly known as Mahwe Ndiweni. She was one of the wives of Lobengula Khumalo, the last king of the Northern Ndebele people, historically called the Matabele in English. She was a daughter of Mletje, induna of Ujinga and sister of induna Nkomo of Ujinga. Mahwe had no children. (See Lozikeyi Dlodlo: Queen of the Ndebele by Marieke Faber Clarke and Pathisa Nyathi, 2010).
Photographed by W. Rausch of Bulawayo.
By the middle of the 1890s, the photographer W. Rausch had established a studio in Bulawayo on Abercorn Street opposite the Bank of Africa, where, according to advertisements he placed in local newspapers, ‘All kinds of photographic work undertaken – groups photographed in town or country’ (Bulawayo Sketch, 21 November 1896). He also offered for sale ‘native’ portraits, photographic Christmas cards, and albums depicting the principal streets and buildings of Bulawayo.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: the print measures 8” by 5.8” (20.5 cm by 14.7 cm) and is mounted on a slightly larger piece of cut-down album page that has been neatly separated from its reverse side by a professional conservator.
London nomads, 1878
A Woodburytype showing a friendly group gathered around William Hampton’s caravan on a piece of vacant land in Battersea. The woman seated on the steps, Mary Pratt ('old Mary Pradd') was murdered a few weeks after the photograph was taken.
In the text that accompanied the photograph, Thomson recalled that: 'The poor woman who met her end in so mysterious a manner had in life the look of being a decent, inoffensive creature. Clean and respectable in her dress, she might in her youth have been even of comely appearance, but now she wore the indelible stamp of a woman who had been dulled and deadened by a hard life.’
John Thomson, in collaboration with the journalist Adolphe Smith, published a monthly magazine from 1876 to 1877 entitled Street Life in London. The project, an early experiment in photojournalism, documented the lives of the poor and the marginalized in the capital of the Empire. The photographs and accompanying text were subsequently published as a book in 1878.
Condition: the print is in excellent condition, with all the rich and satisfying tones one would expect from a Woodburytype. The page on which it’s mounted presents a few small marks and imperfections but is otherwise crisp and clean. A printed red border surrounds the print and a caption in red in the lower margin gives its title.
Dimensions: the print measures 4.3” by 3.25” (10.9 cm by 8.3 cm); the page measures 10.6” by 8.2” (27 cm by 20.9 cm).
London workmen, 1888
A large format albumen print showing workmen refitting the premises of Charles Julius Kino, a tailor of 164 Fenchurch Street, London. According to a pencilled inscription verso in a modern hand, the photograph was taken on Tuesday morning, 25 September 1888.
Kino appears on the 1881 census, living at 3 Edinburgh Terrace, Kensington, with his wife Louisa and their three young children. A British subject born in Russia, he was 40 years old and gave 'Woollen Warehouseman' as his profession. The household included a governess, a nurse, two housemaids and a cook.
He subsequently changed his name, becoming Charles Julius Knowles. He died, aged 58, on 17 February 1900 at 17 Kensington Gore, London, leaving an estate valued at a phenomenal £1,222,786. His collection of works by the French artist Alphonse Legros was given to the British Museum by his son in 1953.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in fine condition, with good tonal range. It is affixed to a mount of cream-coloured Bristol board. This presents some faint foxing and a few marks, both verso and recto in its margins, but is otherwise firm and solid. The tip of its upper right-hand corner is missing. A thin red, printed border surrounds the print.
Dimensions: the print measures 6” by 8.4” 915.5 cm by 21.4 cm); the mount measures 10.4” by 13.4” (26.5 cm by 34 cm).
Michael Faraday’s laboratory, 1891
A glossy, brown-toned, printing-out-paper print showing the laboratory of the eminent British scientist Michael Faraday who made important advancements in the fields of electromagnetism and electrochemistry. Although he died in 1867, the photograph shows his workspace unchanged in 1891, according to an extensive inscription pencilled on the back of the print. This reads:
‘Taken in 1891 / Faraday’s Dark Room where his Magnetic Researches were carried on. This room was not altered when the laboratory was rebuilt in 1871 and is left much as it was in Faraday’s time. The brass plate marked Servants’ Hall is still on the door. Faraday’s seals in red wax are still to be seen on [?] the dark recess wh. is partly hidden by the open door.’
Michael Faraday’s Magnetic Laboratory of the 1850s survived because, for many years after his death, it was used as a storeroom and left undisturbed. It is still to be seen today at the Royal Institution, although what is on show now is a modern reconstruction supposedly based on a painting of the 1850s. The disposition of scientific paraphernalia on the shelves in the modern reconstruction is very different from the arrangement of items seen here, though the layout of the room is very similar.
Condition: the print, which is unmounted, is a little ragged along its upper edge and at its upper right-hand corner. Its tones are a little cloudy towards its upper right corner but the majority of the image is unaffected and in good condition.
Dimensions: at its widest points, the print measures 4” by 5.7” (10.3 cm by 14.5 cm).
The Native Choir of South Africa, c. 1891
London Stereoscopic Company
A cabinet card portrait of the South African singers billed as ‘The African Native Choir’ or sometimes as ‘the Kaffir Choir.’ The choir included performers from the Amaxhosa, Fingo, Tembu, Bapedi, Basuto, Zulu and Cape tribes of South Africa. They visited England in 1891, when they gave a concert before Queen Victoria, and America in 1893 and 1895.
Photographed by the London Stereoscopic Company.
Condition: the print, which is a Woodburytype, is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The mount presents a small, neat deposit of hardened glue and paper at each corner – evidence that the card was once mounted on a secondary support – but is otherwise also in excellent condition.
Dimensions: the dimensions of a standard cabinet card are approximately 6.5” by 4.3” (16.5 cm by 10.8 cm).
Seven servants, c. 1890
A matt silver print showing a group of Black servants, presumably somewhere in North American. The long whip he is carrying indicates that the man in a top hat is coachman. The other two men appear to be outdoor workers of some kind, while the four women are all maids working inside the house.
Photographer and location unidentified.
Condition: apart from a very few, very small imperfections, the print is in excellent condition. The stock on which it’s mounted is clear, firm and crisp.
Dimension: including a narrow white border, the print measures 5” by 7” (12.7 cm by 17.7 cm).
A contestant in Japan’s first beauty contest, 1891
A delicately hand-coloured albumen print showing one of the contestants in the 1891 Geisha competition held at the Ryounkaku, Tokyo.
Each of the 100 contestants in the competition was photographed against the same studio backdrop, with only slight alterations to the props. All the girls held a fan painted with the characters Ryounkaku, and the inscription is repeated on a folding fan in the background.
The series of portraits was commissioned as a record of all the contestants in the competition, which was held to mark the opening of the Ryounkaku, better known as the Twelve-Storey Tower, a landmark building in Asakusa. The Geisha came from the major pleasure quarters of Tokyo, including Shimbashi and Yoshiwara. Visitors were encouraged to vote on their particular favourite, with prizes awarded to the five most popular girls. The winner was the nineteen-year-old O-Tama who attracted the patronage of an anonymous admirer who paid for her release from the Tamagawaya Geisha house in Shimbashi.
The event proved such a success that another contest was held in December of the following year.
Photographed by Kazumasa Ogawa (1860-1929), who opened a studio in Tokyo in 1884, and in 1888 started Japan's first collotype printing business. Original photographs from the Ogawa studio are rare, since most of the photographer’s time and effort were devoted to his successful collotype work.
Numbered 19 in the negative.
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition; the delicate hand-colouring is as fresh as the day it was done.
Dimensions: the print measures 10.2” by 8.2” (26 cm by 20.8 cm) and is mounted on a slightly larger, cut-down section of an album page, which as been neatly split from its reverse.
Medical student with skeleton, 1902
A brown-toned silver print from an album compiled by a medical student while studying at Oxford. This particular image carried no identification but other inscriptions referred to ‘Bertie’ and his rooms on St John’s Street. Other images showed views of the Anatomy Rooms and some were dated 1902.
For further reading see Stiffs, Skulls and Skeletons: Medical Photography and Symbolism by Stanley B. Burns and Elizabeth A. Burns (2015) and Dissection: Photographs of A Rite of Passage In American Medicine 1880-1930 by John Harley Warner and James M. Edmonson (2009), though the latter focuses on medical students posing with cadavers rather than with skeletons
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections but is otherwise in excellent condition. The section of album page on which it’s mounted presents some yellowing at two edges and a light crease at one corner but is otherwise crisp and clean. Another photograph has been skimmed off the reverse side.
Dimensions: the print measures 6” by 4.4” (15.3 cm by 11 cm); it is mounted on a cut-down section of album page measuring 7” by 5.6” (17.7 cm by 14.1 cm).
Execution of insurgents in the Philippines, c. 1900
An albumen print showing a hanging in the Philippines. According to an inked caption in the lower margin, the photograph shows the 'Execution of insurgents by American soldiers.’ Five hooded bodies can be seen hanging from the gallows, while their wooden coffins lie waiting in front of the scaffold.
The photograph was probably taken during the Philippine–American War, also known as the Philippine War of Independence or the Philippine Insurrection, an armed conflict between the United States and Filipino revolutionaries that took place between 1899 and 1902.
Condition: please see scans. The print is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range. The section of album page on which it’s mounted presents some indentations recto in the upper margin but is otherwise crisp and clean.
Dimensions: the print measures 4.7” by 6.2”(11.9 cm by 17 cm). The section of album page on which it’s mounted measures 6” by 7.2” (15.1 cm by 18.4 cm).
Amaateur dramatic sacrifice. c. 1900
A warm-toned, glossy silver print showing a scene staged by two young women, possibly in their own garden.
Photographer and location unidentified.
For further reading see Acting the Part: Photography as Theatre, ed. by Lori Pauli (2006).
Condition: the print, which is unmounted, is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimension: the print measures 4.8” by 6.8” (12.1 cm by 17.3 cm).
Louis de Manche and Alf, c. 1920s
A collection of twenty-one photographs relating to a juggler and contortionist named Louis de Manche. Nineteen of the photographs are small snapshots. Two are larger glossy silver gelatin prints (not shown here). Louis appears in a variety of poses, balanced atop chairs and bottles, juggling, and performing feats of contortion. In some photographs he is balancing his son Alf on his head or on his outstretched arm.
Many of the photographs carry a pencilled inscription verso. Most of these read simply ‘Louis.’ The ones of him with the small boy in a sailor suit read ‘Louis and Alf.’ The one of him with two children reads: ‘Louis, Alf and friend.’ One carries an inscription written in ink which reads ‘Louse De Manche / Alfred.’ The inscription on the back of one of the larger photographs reads: ‘Alfred / with Father / Louis de Manche.’ The inscription on the other large photograph reads, in ink, ‘Louis J. de Manche / 252 Sackville St.’
Born on 24 March 1892 in Acton Vale, Quebec, Canada, Louis Joseph de Manche of Gardner, Massachusetts applied to become a US citizen. The form states he is single, and gives his profession as ‘Road Worker – Soldier.’ The date on the form is illegible. He does not appear to have to completed the naturalization process.
His military record states that his date of birth was 23 May 1893, that he was discharged from the army on 13 June 1919 in Toronto and that he died on 21 June 1942.
In 1920 he married Marie Laura Trinque in Gardner, Massachusetts.
According to his death certificate, he died at 252 Sackville Street in Toronto on 21 June 1942 at the age of 49. His date of birth was given as 24 May 1893. The informant was his son, Alfred de Manche, also of 252 Sackville Street.
Condition: apart from the occasional missing corner, all the photographs are in very good condition. The largest of the prints, which shows Alf standing on Louis’s head, has lost all of its upper left-hand corner but this is still present and not lost altogether.
Dimensions: the fifteen photographs shown here, plus four others (not shown), measure 3.3” by 2.4” (8.6 cm by 6.1 cm) or the reverse. The two larger photographs (not shown) measure 7.3” by 4.9” (18.9 cm by 12.5 cm) and 10" by 6.6" (25.4 cm by 16.6 cm).
A dentist at work, 1929
A glossy silver gelatin snapshot showing a dentist work. The photograph was acquired in Berlin so the location is possibly Germany. A pencilled inscription verso gives the date, 30 August 1929 (written as ’30.8.29’).
Condition: under high magnification, the print presents a few small imperfections but to the naked eye it is in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimension: including its narrow white border, the print measures 3.2” by 4.4” (8.2 cm by 11.2 cm).
A real photo postcard portrait of a German bodybuilding displaying his rather modest achievements.
Photographed by Atelier-Spiegel of Braunschweig in Germany, identified verso by a printed caption along one edge.
Braunschweig [English: Brunswick] is a city in Lower Saxony.
Condition: a very fine print with good tonal range and almost no imperfections, apart from a loss of tone in a small patch near the upper right-hand corner.
Dimensions: the postcard measures 5.5” by 3.5” (13.9 cm by 8.8 cm).
Studio Arax, Paris
A glossy silver gelatin physique photograph of a handsome young man with well-developed lats, flashing white teeth and a disconcerting absence of male genitalia.
Photographed by Studio Arax of Paris.
According to Kenneth Krauss (Male Beauty: Postwar Masculinity in Theater, Film, and Physique Magazines, 2014): ‘Gregor Arax, whose studio in Paris had been producing high-quality male nudes since the 1930s, was a Greek who kept his studio at 31 Boulevard Raspail for more than three decades. [He was] primarily known for his meticulous studio pictures.’
Condition: the print presents a few small imperfections in the area of the background but is otherwise in excellent condition, with very good tonal range.
Dimensions: including a narrow white border, the print measures 9.25” by 6.9” (23.5 cm by 17.6 cm).
A vintage gelatin silver print showing a view of a street of nineteenth-century housing in Newcastle-upon-Tyne. The photograph was taken in 1936; this print was issued circa 1960.
Manuscript inscriptions verso read : ‘Northumberland Newcastle’ in ink and ‘Wealth p. 242-3’ in two shades of pencil. A small paper label printed in red reads: ‘England, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.’
Photographed by Edwin Smith, identified by his wetstamp verso.
The photographer Edwin Smith (1912-1971) was noted for his sensitive evocation of place. The poet and architectural historian Sir John Betjeman hailed him as a ‘genius at photography’ due to his ability to make the ordinary rich and astonishing. An exhibition titled ‘Ordinary Beauty: The Photography of Edwin Smith’ was held at RIBA in London from September to December 2014.
RIBA holds an archive of 60,000 negatives by Smith. According to their website, he was ‘one of Britain’s finest photographers. […] The recurrent themes of his work – a concern for the fragility of the environment, an acute appreciation of the need to combat cultural standardization by safeguarding regional diversity, and a conviction that architecture should be rooted in time and place – are as pressing today as when Smith first framed them in his elegant compositions.’
According to a review of the RIBA exhibition by Owen Hopkins in Apollo: The International Art Magazine (30 September 2014, available online), ‘There is a haunting feel to many of the photographs; people are almost always absent from the scenes, but a human presence is seemingly inescapable. […] The sense, though, is that those people are not coming back, that even when the photographs were taken, these were scenes of a world that was already lost.’
For a far fuller assessment of Smith’s work see ‘Edwin Smith: A Genius Rediscovered’ by Robert Elwall on Alan Griffiths’ always informative website Luminous Lint.
Condition: the print presents a few faint imperfections in the area of the sky but is otherwise in excellent condition. It is has a very narrow white border at its upper edge and a wider one at its lower. It is unmounted.
Dimensions: the image measures 7.1” by 9.9” (18.2 cm by 25.2 cm).