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Article

Martha Schwendener

[Ben Youseph Nathan, Esther Zeghdda]

(b London, Nov 21, 1869; d Brooklyn, NY, Nov 27, 1933).

American photographer. Born Esther Zeghdda Ben Youseph Nathan to a German mother and an Algerian father, she immigrated to the United States in 1895. She worked as a milliner in New York before opening a photographic portrait studio in 1897. Her ‘gallery of illustrious Americans’ featured actresses, politicians, and fashionable socialites, including President Theodore Roosevelt, author Edith Wharton, artist William Merritt Chase, and actress Julia Marlowe. Ben-Yusuf also created Pictorialist-inspired artwork like The Odor of Pomegranates (1899; see fig.), an allegory informed by the myth of Persephone and the idea of the pomegranate as a tantalizing but odourless fruit. Ben-Yusuf was included in an exhibition organized by the Linked Ring, Brotherhood of the in London in 1896 and continued to exhibit in the group’s annual exhibitions until 1902. Her photographs were exhibited at the National Academy of Design in 1898 and at the Camera Club of New York in ...

Article

(b Warren County, NY, 1823; d New York, Jan 15, 1896).

American photographer. At the age of 16 Brady left his home town and moved to nearby Saratoga. There he learnt how to manufacture jewellery cases and met William Page, who taught him the techniques of painting. Impressed by his ability, Page took Brady to New York in 1841 to study with Samuel F(inley) B(reese) Morse at the Academy of Design, and to attend Morse’s school of daguerreotypy; there Brady learnt the details of photographic technique. After experimenting with the medium from 1841 to 1843, Brady set up his Daguerrean Miniature Gallery in New York (1844), where he both took and exhibited daguerreotypes. Very soon he established a considerable reputation and in 1845 won first prize in two classes of the daguerreotype competition run by the American Institute. He concentrated on photographic portraits, especially of famous contemporary Americans, such as the statesman Henry Clay (1849; Washington, DC, Lib. Congr.). In ...

Article

Robert Smith

(John)

(b Guernsey, Channel Islands, Feb 28, 1837; d Melbourne, Feb 13, 1918).

Australian photographer of Guernsey birth. After his arrival in South Australia c. 1858, he pursued his interest in photography while working as a hairdresser, becoming a professional photographer in Adelaide in 1867. Economic recession led him to move in 1870 to the neighbouring colony of Victoria, where he worked as hairdresser and photographer in the goldfields settlement of Talbot. By 1871 he was able to open a studio in the larger town of Bendigo, achieving commercial success with carte-de-visite portraits and local views. He had an interest in art, having tried his hand at painting, and became a precursor of Pictorial photography, converting the formally posed group portrait into the conversation piece and producing landscape scenes with human interest genre subjects and picturesque effects to meet a growing nationalistic demand.

To take advantage of his increasing success Caire moved to Melbourne in 1876 to exploit its rapid urban growth as subject-matter, and to use it as a base for forays into the countryside, seeking novel or spectacular subjects. Expansion of the railway system and his adoption of the dry plate process gave him greater mobility, and he was able to photograph increasingly remote localities, culminating in an expedition to Mt Buffalo, in ...

Article

Louis Kaplan

(Howard)

(b Boston, MA, May 1832; d Boston, MA, May 16, 1884).

American engraver, spirit photographer, and inventor. Mumler worked first as an engraver in the jewellery firm of Bigelow, Kennard, and Co. before taking up photography. In 1862, he claimed to have developed a haunted photographic self-portrait that contained the ‘spirit’ of a deceased female cousin, even though a more naturalistic explanation viewed it as a double exposure produced on an already used plate. Working with his wife Hannah, who was a clairvoyant and medium, Mumler went into business producing such spirit photographs as cartes-de-visite for the bereaved and the curious on a full-time basis.

The success of Mumler’s spirit photography must be understood in relation to the growth of Spiritualism as a popular religious movement and the belief that communication with the dead was possible. For Spiritualist leaders such as Andrew Jackson Davis (1826–1910), Mumler’s images offered visible proof of a new medium for spirit communication and communion. However, Mumler left Boston amid scandal when a few of the spirits in his photographs were found to still be alive. Relocating to New York in the late 1860s, he opened a studio at 630 Broadway....

Article

Eugenia Parry Janis

(b Boissy-Saint-Léger, Dec 12, 1795; d Paris, May 4, 1866).

French lithographer, photographer and painter. From his début at the Salon of 1814 as a painter he regularly exhibited lithographed images of daily life, fashion, regional costumes and erotica, many done after the work of English and Dutch artists. He also published his own lithographed compositions, mostly ‘female types’. With Achille Deveria and others he contributed to the compendium of romantic erotica called Imagerie galante (Paris, 1830), which provocatively updated an erotic mode found in 18th-century engravings. The subjects were pictorial versions of stock characters from popular novels and plays.

Vallou turned to photography in 1842 after nearly 30 years of popular lithography. By 1851 he was using the paper negative exclusively. He belonged to the Société Héliographique and was a founder-member of the Société Française de Photographie. It is not known how and why he changed to the new medium, except that he may have seen its market potential in providing artists with photographic studies (...

Article

Camara Dia Holloway

(b Philadelphia, PA, Feb 5, 1948).

American photographer, curator and scholar. Willis was born in North Philadelphia to a hairdresser mother and a policeman father who was an amateur photographer. Within a familial and communal context, Willis learned that photographs could function as powerful statements of African American identity. These ideas were reinforced by reading her family’s copy of the publication The Sweet Flypaper of Life (1955) that featured the photographs of Roy DeCarava, a major African American photographer. She also attended the Metropolitan Museum of Art exhibition, Harlem on My Mind in 1969. Willis earned a BFA from the Philadelphia College of Art in 1975 and an MFA from the Pratt Institute in Brooklyn in 1979. Inspired by the quilting and storytelling traditions in her family, Willis developed a practice that combined her photographs, family photographs and other elements into autobiographical quilts. Her later works focused more on the female body.

From 1980 to 1992...