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A Record of the Photographic Salon of 1895

This rare portfolio of photogravure images issued in 1895 by The Photographic Salon (London) was the result two years earlier by a decision in 1893 by members of The Linked Ring Brotherhood in England to "form a Salon of Pictorial Photography and that the exhibition should be displayed at the Dudley Gallery, Piccadilly, in the autumn." (Harker 1979) The Brotherhood "was constituted as a means of bringing together those who are interested in the development of the highest form of Art of which Photography is capable". (Harker 1979) It embodied the Secession (Aesthetic) Movement in Photography in Britain, having been founded in April 1892 by a small group of distinguished photographers who seceded from the Photographic Society of Great Britain in 1891-2." (Harker: 1979) Significantly, the decision by the Linked Ring to allow no "Preferential treatment" to its‘ own members was made: the result was that photographers submitting work from around the world would compete with those entries by member "Links" of the brotherhood itself - insuring that the best work would be exhibited. This of course gave the Linked Ring itself credibility in the larger world view of pictorial photography that was beginning to become a major movement - a movement that rejected the value of the "old school" ways of photography.
This portfolio is the result of a decision made by the the Linked Ring to issue a deluxe portfolio reproducing some of the choice photographs selected for exhibition in the 3rd annual salon. The photographs were printed by Walter L. Colls, a master printer and member of the Linked Ring himself. Significantly, Colls taught the important English photographer Peter Henry Emerson (who championed "Naturalistic Photography") how to print his own photogravures in the late 1880s. Colls also etched the printing plates for photogravures that appeared in later issues of the English series "Sun Artists" in 1891. It is known that at least three separate Photographic Salon portfolios were issued for the years 1895, 1896 and 1897.
Alfred Stieglitz makes an appearance in this 1895 portfolio for a photograph he took in 1894 known as "Scurrying Home" (also known as "Hour of Prayer" - depicting two Dutch women walking away from the camera on the beach at Katwyk, Holland. The portfolio, according to Sarah Greenough (2002) was printed by Colls in three separate editions:
  • a plate paper edition (This portfolio is from this edition - it is not numbered but perhaps no more than 500 copies were printed on plate paper based on other photographic portfolios issued from the period);
  • a 2nd edition of 100 on India paper
  • and a 3rd edition of 50 on Japanese paper.
The very first issue of Camera Notes, published by The New York Camera Club and edited by Stieglitz in October of 1897 pronounced its‘ approval of the portfolio: Colls photogravures were "capitally done," and the portfolio as a whole "one of which not only the Salon and Mr. Colls, but photography itself may be proud." (Greenough, 2002, Vol.2, p.936, footnote 23).
According to the Christian A. Peterson (1983: 35):
"Most directly related to what would eventually end up in the pages of Camera Notes, however, were the handsome portfolios commemorating the London photographic salons of the 1890‘s, at least three of which Stieglitz owned. Separate from the checklists for the exhibitions, these deluxe publications presented a selection of twenty images from each salon, finely printed in photogravure by Walter L. Colls, the skilled printer who taught the process to P.H. Emerson. With Camera Notes in mind, a careful study of Pictorial Photographs: A Record of the Photographic Salon of 1895 is very instructive." Peterson continues: "Fully half of the images from this 1895 publication were later duplicated in issues of Camera Notes."
The actual numbers of photogravures for the Salons varied - 1895 included 20 gravures, 1896 contained 18 and the 1897 portfolio 17 (Naef 1978).
The preface and list of plates have been included in this exhibition to provide context to the overall portfolio: 19 large plate photogravures (one plate is printed with two separate images) are presented here making up the entire folio: Each image has been hand printed in the center of individual portfolio sheets measuring 15" by 11". Individual plates are blind-stamp numbered successively in the upper right hand corner .
Image size (in centimeters) are as follows: (Height by Width)
  1. At the Rushy Pool: by Dr. Hugo Henneberg: (20 by 12.3)
  2. Rouen: by Roberty Demachy: (17.5 by 12.7)
  3. Figure Decorative: by Rene Le Begue: (19.7 by 12.5)
  4. Old Cronies: by Ralph Winwood Robinson: (18.8 by 11.7)
  5. Fantaisie En Blanc: by Constant Puyo: (20.2 by 14.3)
  6. Michel: by Hans Watzek: (18.6 by 13.4)
  7. In Kilbrennan Sound: by Henry Peach Robinson: (11.5 by 20)
  8. A Dutch Girl: by Philipp Von Schoeller: (17.7 by 13.6)
  9. Winter Evening: by Dr. Julius Strakosch: (17.4 by 13.6)
  10. Returning From Pasture: by Tom Bright: (12.5 by 22.8)
  11. Fog: by Frank Meadow Sutcliffe: (12.2 by 18.7)
  12. A Little Princess: by James Craig Annan: (20 by 10.5)
  13. Study of a Head: by Robert Demachy: (16.9 by 12.6)
  14. Day‘s Decline: by Alfred Horsley Hinton: (19.8 by 11.8)
  15. The Evening Hour: by Henry E. Davis (6.7 by 9.8)
  16. Coal Tiers: by Henry E. Davis: (6.7 by 9.8)
  17. Simplicity: by Walter L. Colls: (13.9 by 8.5)
  18. The Day Was Nearly Done: by John A. Hodges: (13.8 by 18)
  19. Scurrying Home: by Alfred Stieglitz: (18.9 by 13.7)
  20. A Portrait Study: by Hector Colard: (16.1 by 12.5)

Further reading
Greenough, Sarah (2002) Alfred Stieglitz / The Key Set National Gallery of Art and Harry N. Abrams [Two volumes]
Harker, Margaret (1979) The Linked Ring: The Secession Movement in Photography in Britain, 1892-1910 A Royal Photographic Society Publication
Naef, Weston (1978) The Collection of Alfred Stieglitz: Fifty Pioneers of Modern Photography The Metropolitan Museum of Art / The Viking Press
Peterson, Christian A. (1983) Alfred Stieglitz‘s Camera Notes The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in association with W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
© D. Spencer (2006) - Used with permission



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