History of Photography


History of Photography

A World History of Photography

The Story Behind the Pictures 1827-1991

Photographers' Dictionary



Chapter 3











Landscape Photography in the Near East and the Orient

Tourists were the main consumers of the views of Italy, but armchair travelers bought scenes from other parts of the world in the hope of obtaining a true record, "far beyond anything that is in the power of the most accomplished artist to transfer to his canvas." These words express the ambitious goal that Frith set for himself when he departed on his first trip to the Nile Valley in 1856. Before i860, he made two further journeys, extending his picture-taking to Palestine and Syria and up the Nile beyond the fifth cataract (pi. no. 132). In addition to photographing, he wrote voluminously on the difficulties of the project, especially owing to the climate, commenting on the "smothering little tent" and the collodion fizzing—boiling up over the glass—as well as on the sights in which he delighted— temples, sphinxes, pyramids, tombs, and rock carvings.

Frith's discussion of the compositional problems of view photography throws light on an aspect of 19th-century landscape practice often ignored. This was "die difficult}' of getting a view satisfactorily in the camera: foregrounds are especially perverse; distance too near or too far; the falling away of the ground; the intervention of some brick wall or other common object.... Oh what pictures we would make if we could command our points of view." While Frith undoubtedly" had traditional painting concepts in mind when he wrote this, images such as Approach to Philae (pi. no. 133) show that he was capable of finding refreshing photographic solutions to these problems. The Egyptian and Near Eastern views were published by Frith himself and by others in a variety of sizes, formats, and in a number of different volumes, some in large editions. The most ambitious, Egypt and Palestine Photographed and Described,  had a significant effect on British perceptions of Egypt, as Frith had hoped it would, because the photographer, in addition to sensing the money-making possibilities of the locality, had voiced the belief that British policy-makers should wake up to the pronounced French influence in North Africa.

Some 40 photographers, male and female, from European countries and the United States, arc known to have been attracted to the Near East before 1880, among them Bedford, who accompanied the Prince of Wales in 1862, the Vicomte of Banville, Antonio Beato, Felice Beato, Felix and Marie Bonfils, Wilhelm Von Herford, and James Robertson. Studios owned by local photographers also sprang up. Due to the superficial similarities of subject and identical surnames, for many years the two Beatos, Antonio and Felice, were thought to be the same individual, commuting heroically between the Near and Far East, but now it is known that Antonio was the proprietor of an Egyptian firm based in Luxor that produced thousands of tourist images after 1862, among diem this view of die interior of the Temple of Horns at Edfu (pi no. 135), while his brother, after a brief visit to Egypt with Robertson, was responsible for photographic activities in India and die Orient.

The Bonfils family enterprise, operating from Beirut where they had moved from France in 1867, is typical of the second generation of Near East photographers. In a letter to the Soctete Fvangaise de Photographic in 1871, Ronfils reported diat he had a stock of 591 negatives, 15,000 prints, and 9,000 stercographic views, all intended for an augmented tourist trade. Because die business was handed down from generation to generation, and stocks of photographs were acquired from one firm by another, there is no way of deciding exacdy from whose hand images such as Dead Sea, A View of the Expanse (pi. no. 134) actually comes. Furthermore, by the 1880s, scenic views of die region and its monuments had lost the freshness and vitalitv that had informed earlier images, resulting in die trivialization of the genre even though a great number of photographers continued to work in the area.

132. FRANCIS FRITH (?). Traveller's Boat at Iimm, c. 1859.
Albumen print. Francis Frith Collection. Andovcr, England,

133. FRANCIS FRITH. Approach to Philae, c. 1858.
Albumen print. Stuart Collection, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

134. FELIX BONFILS, or family. Dead Sea, A View of the Expanse. 1860-90.
Albumen print. Semitic Museum, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.

135. ANTONIO BEATO. Interior of Temple ofHorus, Edfu, after 1862.
Albumen print. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa.

Photographers working with paper and collodion began to penetrate into India and the Far East toward die end of the 1850s, but providing images for tourists was not their only goal. In India, photography was considered a documentary tool with which to describe to die modier country the exotic and mysterious landscape, customs, and people of a subject land; as such it was supported by the British military and ruling establishment. Dr. John McCosh and Captain Linnaeus Tripe were the first to calotype monuments and scenery, the latter producing prize-winning views diat were considered "very Indian in their character and picturesquely selected." As a consequence of imperialistic interest, a spate of photographically illustrated books and albums issued from both commercial and military photographers during the 1860s and '70s, with illustrations by Felice Beato, P. A. Johnston, and W, H. Pigou Samuel Bourne, the most prominent landscapist working in collodion in India, was a partner with Charles Shepherd in the commercial firm of Bourne and Shepherd, and traveled at times with 650 glass plates, two cameras, a ten-foot-high tent, and two crates of chemicals. He requires the assistance of 42 porters, widiout whom, it was noted in the British press, photography in India would not have been possible for Europeans." As part of an endeavor to produce A Pennanent Record of India, Bourne explores remote areas in the high Himalaya mountains and in Kashmir during his seven-year stay. A perfectionist who had left a career in banking to photograph, he claimed thai he waited several days for the favorable circumstances that might allow him to achieve the tonal qualities seen in, for example, Boulders on the Road to Muddan Mahal (pl. no. 136). Colin Murray, who took over Bourne's large-format camera when the latter returned to England, apparent!".

Also inherited his approach to landscape composition; both believed that a body of water almost inevitably improved the image. The lyrical Water Palace at Udaipur (pi. no. 137) is one of a group of landscapes that Murray made for a publication entitled Photographs of Architecture and Scenery in Gujerat and Rajputana, which appeared in 1874.

Lala Deen Dayal, the most accomplished Indian photographer of the 19th century, and Darogha Ubbas Alii, an engineer by profession, appear to have been the only Indian photographers to publish landscape views. Deen Dayal of Indore began to photograph around 1870, becoming official photographer to the viceroy and soon afterward to the nizam (ruler) of Hyderabad; his studios in Hyderabad and Bombay, known as Raja Deen Dayal and Sons, turned out portraits, architectural views, and special documentary projects commissioned by his patron (see Chapter 8). Architectural images by Ubbas Alii of his native city Lucknow, issued in 1874, are similar in style to those produced by the Europeans who were responsible for the majority of Indian scenic views.

As on the Indian subcontinent, scenic views in China and Japan were made first by visiting Europeans who brought with them, in the wake of the rebellions and wars that opened China to Western imperialism, equipment, fortitude, and traditional Western concepts of pictorial organization. The earliest daguerreotypists of the Orient included Eliphalet Brown, Jr., who arrived with Commodore Perry's expedition, and Hugh McKay, who operated a daguerreotype studio in Hong Kong in the late 1840s; they were followed by other Westerners who arrived in China hoping to use wetplate technology to record scenery and events in commerciallv successful ventures. Several of these photographers purchased the negatives of forerunners, amassing a large inventory of views that were turned out under the new firm name. Among the outsiders who were active in China during this period were M. Rossier, sent by the London firm of Ncgretti and Zambra (large-scale commercial publishers of stcrcographic views), and Felice Beato, who in addition to recording episodes in the conquests by the Anglo-French North China Expeditionary Force in i860 (see Chapter 4) photographed landscapes and daily activities. Between 1861 and 1864, the American photographer Milton Miller, apparently taught by Beato and recipient of many of his negatives, worked in Hong Kong, specializing in portraiture and street scenes. The most energetic outsider to photograph in China was John Thomson, originally from Scotland. Using Hong Kong as home base and traveling some 5,000 miles troughout the interior and along the coast—usually accompanied by eight to ten native bearers—Thomson woirked in China between 1868 and 1872 before returning to England to publish a four-volume work on Chinese life. His images display a genuine interest in Chinese customs and seem influenced by traditional Chinese painting, as exemplified by his treatment of the landscape in Wu-Shan Gorg, Szechuan (pi no. 138).

136. SAMUEL BOURNE. Boulders on the Road to Muddan Mahal, c. 1867.
Albumen print. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

137. COLIN MURRAY. The Water Palace at Udaipur, c. 1873.
Albumen print. Collection Paul F. Waiter, New York.

138. JOHN THOMSON. Wu-Shan Gorge, Szechuan, 1868.
Albumen print. Philadelphia Museum of Arc.

Commercial viewmaking by native photographers began very slowly, but in 1859 a studio was opened in Hong Kong by Afong Lai. who was to remain preeminent in this area throughout the remainder of the century. Highly regarded by Thomson as "a man of cultivated taste" whose work was "extremely well executed,'' Afong Lai's images, such as a view of Hong Kong Island (pi. no. 139), also reveal an approach similar to that seen in traditional Chinese landscape painting. Although Afong Lai was virtually alone when he began his commercial enterprise, by 1884 it was estimated that several thousand native photographers were in business in China, although not all made scenic views.

Amateur photography also appears to have begun slowly, with neither foreign residents nor native Chinese merchants expressing much interest in this form of expression before the turn of the century. One exception was Thomas Child, a British engineer working in Peking in the 1870s, who produced (and also sold) nearlv 200 views he had taken of that city and its environs, including an image of a ceremonial gate (pi. no. 140). After 1900, Ernest Henry Wilson, a British botanist made ethnographic views, while Donald Mennie, also British and the director of a well-established firm of merchants, approached Chinese landscape with the vision and techniques of the Pictorialist, issuing the soft-focus romantic-looking portfolio The Pageant of Peking in gravurec prints in 1920.

Social and political transformations in Japan during the 1860S—the decade when die Meiji Restoration signaled the change from feudalism to capitalism-—created an atmosphere in which both foreign and native photographers found it possible to function, but besides Beato, who appears to have come to Japan in 1864, few photographers were interested at first in pure landscape views. In general, a truly native landscape tradition did not evolve in India or the Far East during the collodion era, and, in the period that followed, the gelatin dry plate and the small-format snapshot camera combined with the influence of imported Western ideas to make the establishment of an identifiable national landscape style difficult.

139. AFONG LAI. Hong Kong Island, late 1860s.
Albumen print. Collection H. Kwan Lau, New York.

140. THOMAS CHILD. Damaged Portal of Yuen-Ming- Yuan, Summer Palace, Peking,
after the Fire of !860, set by English and French Allied Forces, 1872.
Albumen print. Collection H. Kwan Lau, New York.

Landscape in the Americas

On the opposite side of the Pacific, Mexico was seen by some sectors of the French government as a possible area of colonialist expansion and therefore came under the scrutiny of the camera lens. Desire Charnay, a former teacher with an itch for adventure and a belief in France's destiny in the Americas, explored and photographed in the ancient ruined cities of Chichen-Itza, Uxmal, and Palenque betveen 1858 and 1861 (and was again in Mexico from 1880 to 1882). The first in this part of the world to successfully use the camera as a research tool in archeological exploration, Charney published the views in an expensive two-volume edition of photographs with text by himself and French architect Viollet-le-Duc, and he made images available for translation into wood engraving to accompany articles in the popular press. Despite the fantasy of ideas put forth by the authors concerning the origins of the ancient cities of the new world, the photographs themselves, in particular those of die ornately carved facades of the structures at Chichen-Irza (pi. no. 141), reveal a mysterious power that most certainly served to promote popular and scientific interest in the cultures that had created diese edifices. Though Charney later worked on expeditions to Madagascar, Java, and Australia, this first group of images appears to be the most completely realized.

Urban topographical views—harbors, public buildings, and town squares—comprise a large portion of the photo-graphic landscape documentation made in South America after mid-century. Supported in some cases by the avid interest of die ruling family, as in Brazil under Emperor Dom Pedro II—himself an amateur camera enthusiast— and in other countries by the scientifically minded Europe-an-oriented middle class, professional view-makers turned out images that sought to present topography and urban development in a favorable if not especially exalted light. The most renowned South American photographer of the time. Marc Ferrez, a Brazilian who opened his own studio in Rio de Janeiro after spending part of his youth in Paris, advertised the firm as specializing in Brazilian views. Introducing figures to establish scale in his 1870 Rocks at Itapitco (pi. no. 142), Ferrez's image balances geological descriptiveness with sensitivity to light to create a serene yet visually arresting image.

North American attitudes about scenery reflected the unique situation of a nation without classical history or tabled ruins that shared a near religious exaltation of virgin nature. Many Americans were convinced that the extensive rivers and forests were signs of the munificent hand of God in favoring the new nation with plenty; others recognized the economic value of westward expansion and found photography to be the ideal tool to enshrine ideas of "manifest destiny." Painters of the Hudson River School and photographers of the American West recorded landscape as though it were a fresh and unique creation, but while the optimism of many East Coast artists had vanished in the aftermath of the Civil War, photographers (and painters) facing untrammeled western scenery continued to express buoyant reverence for nature's promise.

141. DEIRE CHARNAY. Chichen-Itza, Yucatan, c. 1858.
Albumen print. Collection Centre Canadien d'Architecture, Canadian Centre for Architecture, Montreal.

142. MARC FERREZ. Rocks at Itapuca, 1870. Albumen print. Collection H. L. HofFenberg, New York.

143. JAMES WALLACE BLACK. In the White Mountain Notch, 1854.
Albumen print- An Museum, Princeton University, Princeton, N.J. Robert 0. Dougan Collection.

In a literal sense, a photographic "Hudson River School" did not exist. Eastern landscapists working in the Hudson Valley and the Adirondack and White mountains regions among them James Wallace Black, the Bierstadt and Kilburn brothers, John Soule, and Seneca Ray Stoddard, were concerned largely, though not exclusively, with a commerce in stereograph views, a format in which it was difficult to express feelings of sublimity. On occasion, a sense of the transcendent found its way into images such as Black's mountain scene (pi. no. 143); Stoddard's Hudson River Landscape (pi. no. 144), in which the horizontal format, luminous river, and small figure suggest the insignificance of man in relation to nature, is another such example. Although American view photographers were urged to avoid "mere mechanism" by familiarizing themselves with works by painters such as Claude, Turner, and Ruisdael, as well as by contemporary American landscape painters, artistic landscapes in the European style were of concern only to a small group working out of Philadelphia in the early 1860s. These photographers responded to a plea by a newly established journal, Philadelphia Photographer, to create a native landscape school to do "really first class work," that is, to imbue landscape with a distinctive aura. Sceneiy in the Region of the Delaware Water Gap (pi no. 145) by John Moran, who had been trained as a painter along with his more famous brother Thomas, is representative of the work by the Philadelphia naturalists, whose photographic activities were strongly colored by a conscious regard for artistic values. Farther west, the Chicago-based, Canadian-born Alexander Hesler had switched to making collodion negatives of the natural wonders of the upper Mississippi Valley with similar objectives in mind. Nevertheless, despite the promotion of native landscape expression in art and photography periodicals, this genre flowered only after photographers became involved in the western explorations.

At the same time, it is apparent from early camera documentation of buildings and the cityscape that most photographers made little effort to do more than produce a prosaic record of architectural structures. Images of buildings by George Robinson Fardon in San Francisco; lames McClees, Frederick Debourg Richards, and even John Moran, working in Philadelphia; and the anonymous recorders of architecture in Boston and New York, are largely unnuanced depictions of cornices, lintels, and brick and stone work. With the exception of the photographs by Victor Prevost—a calotypist from France whose views of Central Park and New York buildings, made around 1855, are informed by a fine sense of composition and lighting and, in the Reed and Sturges Warehouse (pi. no. 146), by a respect for the solid power of the masonry— camera pictures of cities often appear to be a record of urban expansion, a kind of adjunct to boostcrism.

144. SENECA RAY STODDARD. Hudson River Landscape, n.d.
Albumen print. Chapman Historical Museum of the Glens Falls-Queensbury Association, Glens Falls, N.Y.

145. JOHN MORAN. Scenery in the Region of the Delaware Water Gap, c. 1864.
Albumen stereograph. Library Company of Philadelphia.

146. VICTOR PROVOST. Reed and Sturges Warehouse, c. 1855.
Calotype. New-York Historical Society, New York.

Western Views

Photographs of western scenery were conceived as documentation also, but they project a surpassing spirit, a sense of buoyant wonder at the grandeur of the wilderness. These images embody the romanticism of mid-century painting and literature—the belief that nature in general and mountains in particular are tangible evidence of the role that the Supreme Deity played in the Creation. Though necessarily different in scale and subject from paintings that depict the discovery and exploration of the North American continent, these photographs reflect the same confidence in the promise of territorial expansion that had moved painters of the 1840s and '50s.

Photography became a significant tool during the 1860s, when railroad companies and government bodies recognized that it could be useful as part of the efforts by survey teams to document unknown terrain in the Far West. Scientists, mapmakers, illustrators, and photographers were hired to record examples of topography, collect

specimens of botanical and geological interest, and make portraits of Native Americans as aids in determining areas for future mineral exploitation and civilian settlements. In addition to being paid for their time, and/or supplied with equipment, individual photographers made their own arrangements with expedition leaders regarding the sale of images. Views were issued in several sizes and formats, from the stereograph to the mammoth print—about 20 by 24 inches—which necessitated a specially constructed camera. For the first time, landscape documentation emerged as a viable livelihood for a small group of American photographers.

Whether working in die river valleys of New York, New England, and Pennsylvania, or the mountains of the West, American wet-plate photographers transported all their materials and processing equipment without the large numbers of porters who attended those working in Europe and the Orient, although assistance was available from the packers included on survey teams. Besides the cameras (at times three in number), photographers carried glass plates in various sizes, assorted lenses, and chemicals in special vans and by pack animals. Tents and developing boxes, among them a model patented by the photographer John Carbutt in 1865 (pi. no. 147), enabled individuals to venture where vehicles could not be taken. Constant unpacking and repacking, the lack of pure water, the tendency of dust to adhere to the sticky collodion—problems about which all survey photographers complained—make the serene clarity of many of these images especially striking.

Following efforts by Solomon Nuncs Carvalho to make topographical daguerreotypes on Colonel John C. Fremont's explorations west of the Mississippi, the American painter Albert Bierstadt, accompanying an expedition to the Rocky Mountains in 1859, was among the first to attempt to publicize the grandeur of western scenery. His wet-plate stereographs are visually weak, but they (and articles written on the subject for The Crayon, a periodical devoted to the support of a native landscape art) exemplify the interest in the West by scientists and writers as well as artists. California, especially, became the focus of early documentation, including that by Charles L. Weed and Carleton E. Watkins, who began to photograph the scenery around Yosemite Valley in the early 1860s. Both had worked in the San Jose gallery of daguerreotypist Robert Vance, who stocked a large inventory of scenic views taken in Chile and Peru as well as in the West. By 1868, Watkins—who had made his first views of Yosemite five years earlier and had worked on the Whitney Survey of the region in 1866, when he shot Cathedral Rock (pi. no. 148)—had become internationally recognized in photo-graphic circles for establishing the mountain landscape as a symbol of transcendent idealism. Impelled perhaps by the controversies then current among naturalists, including expedition leader Clarence King, regarding the relation¬ship of religion to geology and evolution, Watkins's images of rocks seem to emphasize their animate qualities.

147. Carbutfs Portable Developing Box. Wood engraving from The Philadelphia Photographer, January, 1865.
Private Collection

148. CARLETON E. WATKINS. Cathedral Rock, 2,600 Feet, Yosemite, No. 21, published by I. Taber, c. 1866.
Albumen print. Metropolitan Museum of An, New York; Elisha Whittelscy Collection, Elisha Whittelsey Fund, 1922.

Eadweard Muybridge, Watkins's closest competitor, produced views of Yosemite in 1868 and 1872 that likewise enshrine the wilderness landscape as emblematic of the American dream of unsullied nature. Muybridge sought to imprint his own style on the subject by the selection of unusual viewpoints and the disposition of figures in the landscape. Sensitive to the requirements of artistic landscape style, he at times printed-in the clouds from separate negatives to satisfy critics who found the contrast between foreground and sky too great, but he also devised a more Authentically photographic method—the sky shade—a shutterlike device that blocked the amount of blue light reaching the plate. As has been noted, cloud studies, similar to this group by Muybridge (pi. no. 149), were made by photographers everywhere during this period, in part to redress the problem of an empty upper portion of the image and in part because of the photographers' fascination with the ever-changing formations observable in the atmosphere. Muybridge, whose deep interest in ephemeral atmospheric effects was perhaps inspired by association with Bierstadt in 1872, also made a number of remarkable pictures in 1875 of smoke and mistfilled latent volcanoes in Guatemala (pi. no. 150).

Timothy O'Sullivan, a former Civil War photographer who became part of Clarence King's 40th Parallel Survey in 1867 (see Profile), was exceptionally fitted by nature and experience on the battlefield for the organizational and expressive demands of expedition photography. O'Sullivan photographed the volcanic formations of desolate areas, among them Pyramid Lake (pi. no. 151), with an accuracy— thie rocks were photographed in varying light conditions— that reflected King's absorption with geological theory. His images surpass scientific documentation, however, and create an unworldly sense of the primeval, of an untamed landscape of extraordinary beauty. Furthermore, by his choice of vantage point he was able to evoke the vastness and silence of this remote area in intrinsically photographic terms without resorting to the conventions of landscape painting. The work of William Bell, O'Sullivan's replacement on the Wheeler Survey of 1871-72, reveals a sensitivity to the dramatic qualities inherent in inanimate substances; his Hieroglyphic Pass, Opposite Parowan (pi. no. 152) is also unusual in its absence of atmosphere or sense of scale.

In 1871, an expedition down the Colorado River, headed by John Wesley Powell, included E. O. Beaman, an eastern landscape photographer, whose image of a magnificent and lonely mountain pass. The Heart of Lodore, Green River (pi. no. 154.), is given scale and a touch of humanity by die inclusion of a small seated figure. John K. Hillcrs learned photographic techniques from Beaman, whom he eventually replaced; his view of Marble Canyon, Shinumo Altar (pi no. 153), a place that he characterized as "the gloomiest I have ever been in—not a bird in it," displays imaginative as well as technical skill. A similar capacity to both document and infuse life into obdurate substances can be seen in Hanging Rock, Foot of Echo Canyon, Utah (pi. no. 168), taken by Andrew Joseph Russell, a former painter and Civil War photographer, while he was documenting the construction of the Union Pacific Railroad.

William Henry Jackson, employed for eight years on the western survey headed by geologist Ferdinand V. Hayden, was in a privileged position to evolve from journey-man photographer to camera artist of stature. That survey (pi. no. 155), begun in 1870 in the Uintas Mountains and expanded in the following years to embrace the Grand Canyon and the Yellowstone River, included artists San-ford R. Gifford and Thomas Moran, whose landscape paintings helped shape Hayden's and Jackson's pictorial expectations. The close relationship that developed between Jackson and Moran enabled the photographer to refine his vision, even to the point of setting up his camera in positions scouted by Moran, who  seen in Jackson's view of Hot Springs on the Gardiner River, Upper Basin (pi no. 156).

Unlike the fate of the photographs made for France's Missions helioffraphiques, American survey images were seen by a large public. In addition to satisfying the voracious appetite of publishers for marketable landscape stereographs, they also were presented in albums and as lantern slides to members of Congress and other influential people to drum up support for funding civilian scientific expeditions and creating national parklands. For example, besides the sketches that Moran made available to Scribners Magazine (pi. no. 157) in support of Hayden's campaign for a Yellowstone National Park, Jackson printed up albums of Yellowstone Scenic Wonders to convince the United States Congress of the distinctive grandeur of the scenery. In later years, Jackson established a successful commercial enterprise in western images, but it is his work of the mid-'70s, inspired by the land itself and by the artistic example of Moran. that is most compelling.

At about the same time that western survey photography was getting under way, photographers were also included on expeditions to Greenland, organized by Isaac Hayes, and to Labrador, sponsored by the painter William Bradford. John L. Dunrnore and George Critcherson, of Black's Boston studio, worked with the painter to photograph icebergs and glacial seas, providing plates for Brad-ford's publication The Arctic Regions as well as material for his intensely colored Romantic seascapes. Besides recording the forms of icebergs, the incisive reflections and sharp contours of Sailing Ships in an Ice Field (pi. no. 158), for example, suggest the sparkling sharpness of the polar climate. Photography of the polar regions continued into what has been called the heroic period of Polar exploration, with expeditions led by Amundsen, Mawson, Peary, and Scott in the early years of the 20th century, and it is not surprising that some of these later images, among them.Aw Iceberg in Midsummer, Antarctica (pi. no. 159) by British photographer Herbert Ponting, made between 1910 and 1913 while accompanying Scott to Antarctica., should recall the freshness of vision that characterized the hest views of the western wilderness.

149. EADWEARD MUYBRIDGE. A Study of Clouds, c. 1869.
Albumen stereographs. Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley, Cal.

150. EADWEARD MUTBRIDGE. Volcano Quetzeltenango, Guatemala, 1875.
Albumen print. Department of Special Collections, Stanford University Library, Palo Alto, Cal.

151. TIMOTHY O'SUIXFVAN. Tufa Domes, Pyramid Lake, 1867.
Albumen print. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

152. WILLIAM BELL. Utah Series No. 10, Hieroglyphic Pass, Opposite Parowan, Utah, 1872.
Albumen print. Art, Prints and Photograph Division, New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox, and Tilden Foundations.

153. JOHN K. HILLERS. Marble Canyon, Sbinumo Altar, 1872.
Albumen print. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

154. E. O. BEAMAN. The Heart of Lodore, Green River, 1871.
Albumen print. National Archives, Washington, D.C.

155. WILLIAM HENRY JACKSON. Members of the Hayden Survey, 1870.
Albumen print. National Archives, Washington, DC.

156. WILLIAM HENRY JACKSON. Hot Springs on the Gardiner River, Upper Basin (Thomas Moran Standing), 1871.
One-half of an albumen stereograph. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

157. THOMAS MORAN. Bathing Pools, Diana's Baths, 1872.
Engraving. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

158. JOHN L. DUNMORE and GEORGE CRITCHERSON. Sailing Ships in an Ice Field, 1869.
Albumen print. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

159. HERBERT PONTING. An Iceberg in Midsummer, Antarctica, 1910-13.
Carbon print. Original Fine Arts Society Edition print from the Antarctic Divisions Historical Print Collection,
University of Melbourne, Parkville, Australia.

Influenced by westward movements in the United States and by the discovery of gold in British Columbia, the Province of Canada funded an expedition in 1858 to what is now Manitoba; although images made by staff photographer Humphrey Lloyd Hime, a partner in a Toronto engineering firm, were concerned mainly with inhabitants of the region, the few rather poor landscapes indicate the nature of the problems of expedition photography at this early date. Hime noted that to make adequate topographical pictures he required better equipment, pure water, and, most important, more time for taking and processing than expedition leaders were willing to spend. Other Canadian surveys made in connection with railroad routes or border disputes also employed photographers, most of whom produced documents that are more interesting as sociological information than as evocations of the landscape.

Among the few Canadians to imbue scenic images with a sense of atmosphere were Alexander Henderson and William Notman, the best-known commercial photographer in Canada. Henderson, a latecomer to photography and a well-to-do amateur, may have been influenced by English landscape photography with which he was familiar through his membership in the Stereoscope Exchange Club. But Spring Flood on the St. Lawrence (pi. no. 160) of 1865 also seems close in spirit to the idyllic outlook of the American Hudson River artists.

Surveys had provided an effective structure for the documentation of the West, but during the 1880s their functions, including photography, were taken over by the newly established United States Geological Survey and the Bureau of Ethnology. While areas of the West continued to attract individual photographers, most of the images made in frontier studios or in the field during the last quarter of the century consisted of documentation of new settlers or of native tribespeople and their customs, with landscape a byproduct of these concerns. Furthermore, as the nation moved into high gear industrially, the natural landscape no longer was seen as a symbol of transcendent national purpose.

Scenic views made during the 1880s, after the gelatin dry plate had begun to supplant collodion, embodied varied attitudes toward nature. Many landscapists on both sides of the Atlantic were influenced by the ideas of Naturalism, an attitude that celebrated the ordinary and unspectacular both in landscape and social activity (see Chapter 5). Some Americans, among them George Barker, continued their romance with the magnificence of native scenery, but a different sensibility is apparent in images such as Barker's Moonlight on the St. Johns River (pi. no. I6I)—one suggestive of the end of an era rather than the onset of a period of promise. Barker was nationally renowned for views of Niagara Falls, in which rock and water spray are invested with spectacular drama rather than with the noble clarity that had characterized earlier images. Another landscapist of the period, Henry Hamilton Bennett, proprietor of a commercial studio in Kilbourn, Wisconsin, domesticated the wilderness photograph in his views of picnicking and boating parties on the Wisconsin Dells (pi. no, 162), an area that formerly had been famed for its wilderness of glorious valleys and lofty perpendicular rocks.

The flowering of landscape and scenic views during the eras of the calotype and collodion was partly the result of the general urge in all industrialized societies to measure, describe, and picture the physical substances of all things on earth and in the heavens. It was partly a reaction to urbanization—an attempt to preserve nature's beauty. The compelling power of many of these images also flows in a measure from the difficulty of the enterprise. Whether in the Alps, Himalayas, or Rockies, on the Colorado, Nile, or Yangtze, the photographer had to be profoundly committed to the quest for scenic images before embarking on an arduous journey, with the result that many images embody this passion and resolve. After 1880, the ease and convenience first of the gelatin dry plate, and then of the roll-film camera, made landscape photographers out of all who could afford film and camera, and led to an inundation of banal scenic images that often were, in Bourne's words, "little bits, pasted in a scrapbook."

160. ALEXANDER HENDERSON. Spring Flood on the St. Lawrence, 1865.
Albumen print. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa, Ralph GreenhilJ Collection.

161. GEORGE BARKER. Moonlight on the St. Johns River, 1886.
Albumen print. Library' of Congress, Washington, D.C.

162. HENRY HAMILTON BENNETT. Sugar Bowl with Rowboat, Wisconsin Dells, c. 1889. Albumen print.


Discuss Art

Please note: site admin does not answer any questions. This is our readers discussion only.

| privacy