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Erika Billeter

(b Eisenach, 1882; d Mexico City, 1954).

German photographer, active in Mexico. As a young man he travelled through Africa, taking photographs; an archive of some of these glass plates survives. He reached Mexico by way of Panama, Costa Rica, El Salvador and Guatemala, and took his first Mexican photographs in the Yucatán peninsula. He then opened a studio in Mexico City and, together with Augustín Victor Casasola, became one of the most important photographers of the Revolution (1910–17). What he loved most, however, was the beauty of the Mexican landscape. His book Malerisches Mexico was published by Ernst Wachsmuth in Germany in 1923, the same year in which he collaborated with Manuel Alvarez Bravo, later to become Mexico’s leading photographer. Brehme’s photography was not merely reportage. He sought to capture the spirit of the country rather than isolated events as, for example, in his photograph of Pancho Villa’s horsemen, each in direct eye-contact with the photographer. In this he was inspired by José Guadalupe Posada, who was one of the first artists to capture the Mexican temperament in his woodcuts. Occasionally, indeed, Posada worked from photographs by Brehme and by Casasola. More than most foreigners, Brehme was able to feel real empathy with Mexico, and he became an impressive interpreter not only of its customs and traditions, but also of its historical monuments and festivals....

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Jean A. Follett

(b Boston, MA, 1842; d Boston, MA, 1910).

American architect, stained-glass designer, furniture designer, and photographer. Preston was the son of Jonathan Preston (1801–88), a successful builder in Boston. William completed a year’s study at the Lawrence Scientific School in Cambridge, MA (later incorporated into Harvard University), and then went to Paris where he enrolled briefly in the Atelier Douillard. He returned to Boston in 1861 to work with his father, with whom he remained in partnership until the latter’s death. William then practised independently until his own death.

Preston was a prolific architect, designing over 740 buildings in the course of a career spanning 50 years. His early work was in the French Renaissance style, as seen in his Boston Society of Natural History building (1861–4), a tripartite structure with its floor levels arranged to equate with the proportions of the base, shaft, and capital of a Classical column. It has monumental Corinthian columns and pilasters and a central pediment flanked by a balustraded parapet. He worked in a typically eclectic manner during the 1870s and became an extremely fine designer in the Queen Anne Revival style in the 1880s and early 1890s. The varied massing, stained-glass windows, terracotta, moulded brick, and carved-wood detail of the John D. Sturtevant House (...