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date: 15 November 2019

Austen, (Elizabeth) Alicelocked

(b Rose Bank, Staten Island, NY, March 17, 1866; d New York, June 9, 1952).
  • Fiona Dejardin

Extract

(b Rose Bank, Staten Island, NY, March 17, 1866; d New York, June 9, 1952).

American photographer. She was introduced to photography by a friend, Oswall Muller, sometime around 1876, and quickly learnt the complexities of working with a variety of cumbersome cameras, dry-plate negatives and contact printing. As an avid amateur photographer, she documented a social history of a bygone era. Her work, dating between the 1880s and 1930s, recorded a charming portrait of the genteel activities of upper middle-class society on Staten Island. Although her photographs primarily documented the everyday life of the wealthy inhabitants and friends of her home, Clear Comfort, which overlooked New York’s Upper Bay, she also produced a challenging series of images of New York’s Lower East Side. These ‘street types’ were published as a portfolio by the Albertype Company in 1896.

Unlike those of Jacob A. Riis and Lewis W. Hine, Austen’s images of immigrants revealed no concern for social reform, but evidenced a hesitancy and curiosity experienced by both photographer and subject. Her life of stability was abruptly ended by the Stock Market Crash of ...

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