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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Prescott Adamson

Dates:  1863, 25 December - 1933
Died:  US, PA, Germantown

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Prescott Adamson
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

Prescott Adamson was born on Christmas Day, 1863, in Germantown, Pennsylvania. By 1897, he was living in Philadelphia, working as a business manager.
He joined the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, and exhibited from 1899 to 1901 in the salons it organized. In 1900, he lectured to the society on platinum toning and making lantern slides. The text of these technical talks were widely disseminated in the photographic press the same year, appearing in the American Amateur Photographer, the British Journal of Photography, the Photographic Times, and the society’s own journal.
Abbott also became a member of the Photo-Secession, run by Alfred Stieglitz, and had his work hung in three of its important exhibitions. These were its inaugural show in 1902 at New York’s National Arts Club, and its two exhibitions in 1904 at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Institute and the Corcoran Gallery of Art, in Washington, D.C. Stieglitz, likewise, reproduced Abbott’s work, in both Camera Notes (July 1901) and Camera Work (January 1904). Both photogravures were the same piece, his Midst Steam and Smoke, his most often reproduced and exhibited picture. It depicts a phalanx of factory buildings in winter, under snow and mist, making for a very atmospheric image. The picture also was seen in Photo Era, England’s monthly Photogram, and Sadakichi Hartmann’s 1910 book, Landscape and Figure Composition.
Landscapes, portraits, and other images by Abbott appeared elsewhere. The American Annual of Photography reproduced some in 1901 and 1902. He sent his work to exhibitions primarily between 1898 and 1905, beginning with New York’s American Institute exhibition. Salons that accepted his work during this period were Chicago, Denver, London, Minneapolis, Pittsburgh, and Toronto. Other venues that included his photographs were the international exhibition at Glasgow in 1901 and the decorative arts exposition at Turin in 1902. The last listing in the Philadelphia city directory for Prescott Adamson appeared in 1911. 
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
We welcome institutions and scholars willing to test the sharing of biographies for the benefit of the photo-history community. The biography above is a part of this trial.
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