Michael Beschloss posted this remarkable photograph of the Lower East Side on Mulberry Street, a rare color photo made around 1900. There is a lot of life going on here--people posing for the photographer (standing on an elevated platform with a large view camera, no telling who or what he was imaging), people caught in their daily lives, people. Under the Paper Microscope the image reveals all sorts of sub-images, photos-within-photos, making it a fascinating exercise in exploration.
For example, the two men hiked-up on the back of a moving wagon on the bottom-right seem to be enjoying themselves in expectation, the man on the left about to toss something underhanded, the guy on the right in a bow tie getting ready with a smile to enjoy what was going to happen. To their right: a man with a sales platform draped from his neck, watching a girl rush by, his pocket stuffed with paper.
In my travels in and out of imagery and books, I've kept a small space allocated in what is left of my memory palace for images of the working poor and the laboring classes. Most of the world's population of course has been and still is composed chiefly of the daily (and not so) laborer, but if you were to measure images that were made of these folks while at work or with the tools of their trade, and compare it to the rest of the images of more-exalted people spending their time doing more-exalted things, I would guess that the images of the working classes would be vastly outweighed by the rest, at least in the ancinet to early-modern times (of say 1925)--that is why it is so very interesting to see third-quarter 19th century photographs of these people.
This image was made by William Carrick (1827-1878, born in Scotland but who spent his life chiefly in Russia) in the 1860's, and is found at the National Gallery of Scotland, here. Carrick made important contributions to the ethnography and the history of photogaphy, documenting the lifestyle and costume of Russian peasants in the country. It is probable that he made his series cartes de visite images of itinerant trades people as a sort of postcard to the tourist and taveling class--but what happened of course is that he recorded in great detail bits of everyday life that was in general invivible to the main sttream of people who were in the image-making class. And so Carrick produced images of knife sharpeners, and tool sellers, and milk haulsers, and woodcarvers and hackmen and chimney sweeps and so on, pictures of the people who made the city run. I was particularly struck by this image of a boy selling abacuses/abaci--Im not sure that I 've seen a photograph/engraving of a street vendor of this sort of instrument, but here one is--a boy in the 'tween years, wearing boots way too big, with a woven basket full of abacuses/abaci. (The varities here have two ranks of four beads--one for quarter-rubles and the other for quarter kopeks--while the other wires hold ten beads apiece.)
Maybe the boy isn't a 'tween--maybe he's younger than that. Maybe the boy is a girl. In any event, the basket looks heavy, and I'm sure the child returned home with a weary back at the end of the day.
In this stereographic photograph of a group of 3,000 U.S. soldiers (prepared to fight in Europe in WWI, ca. 1917/1918), there is a smaller contingent in two rows, in front, consierably removed from the rest of the formation. This is difficult to see in the first image. However, with a more concentrated view and deeper scan, this is a little more evident, below:
This view still shows the first row of soldiers; that more-distant third row differentiation is much more defined here--the depth of the mass of the formation is starting to really come into focus. The next image shows the heads of the men in the second row, but mostly concentrates on that third row, and beyond:
The final view is just above the heads of the sldiers in the third rank, and more clearly shows the those men in the rear of the formation, including that final rank, which is a profile of men marching. This enlargement represents a section in the original photograph that measures less than 10x6mm--60 square millimeters of great density, complexity, insight, and beauty.
Many years ago in D.C. I bought part of the estate library of Parmelee C. Daniels--the books had been passed down to the next generation, and after their passing some of those books came into my bookstore. Among them was this wonderful photograph, made by P.V. Reyes of Avalon California in 1923. But it wasn't until tonight that I could easily put together the history of the image. (And when I said "small mystery solved" I meant that it was a small mystery to me--no doubt there will be many others who will identify this instrument on first light).
I found that the photograph was made during the 1923 Solar Eclipse Expedition to Santa Catalina Island at Camp Wrigley, and was attended by Daniels and a host of the Big Names of astronomy of the 19-teens and 'twenties. Daniels was a professor at Drake University in Des Moines, and the school's telescope was packed up and made the trip to the Pacific. I do believe that this is the 8.5-inch refractor that was the gift to the school of General Drake in 1893, although I could be wrong.
Here's the image of the telescope (with Daniels standing on the box, President of Drake University and astronomy professor Dr. Morehouse, and Prof. Edwin B. Frost. The image comes from the University of Chicago:
[PC Daniels photo on the solar eclipse expedition of 1923 via the University of Chicago, http://storage.lib.uchicago.edu/ucpa/series6/derivatives_series6/apf6-03446-031r.jpg]
And so the story of this photograph gained some life tonight by me simply plumbing the intertubes for information. Unfortunately I do not know the identity of the boy in the sailor's suit.
8 1/4" Brashear/Warner&Swasey refractor, 1894. (Curiously, in a
dedicatory article in the 1922 issue of "Popular Astronomy" it is
described by the chief astronomer at Drake University, Daniel Morehouse
as a 9" telescope). According to Kirby-Smith (U.S. Observatories, Van
Nostrand Reinhold), it has an interchangeable front flint element for
visual or photographic work, and has a 5" doublet Brashear camera and a
polarizing solar eyepiece. Possibly also, a filar micrometer and a
This image shows one of the happy moments during the First World War--rather, a happy moment right before the end of the war, just a few days after the Armistice (11-11-1918, on the 11th minute of the 11th hour). The image shows the British army being welcomed into the city of Lille on October 17, 1918--the city had been occupied by the Germans right at the beginning of the war in the middle of October, 1914, and was severely punished for a deception perpetrated in its defense, with the German army burning down an entire section of the ancient city in revenge.
The picture was published on 15 November 1918, a few days after the end of the war. In the detail of this photo is revealed a small and unexpected kindness:
A bit of calm, or at least a bit of a place that could not be reached by shells or bullets, was found bellow ground in the cellars of Douaumont Fort, in Verdun. These images were made at the very end of 1916, and published in The Illustrated London News for 13 January 1917. These images show another side of that battle, of soldiers meeting for religious services and for medical attention in the cellars ("...the subterranean, vaulted, stone-built casements, deep underground beyond possibility of penetration by the heaviest bomb") of one of the barrier-forts surrounding Verdun, Douaumont.
This image stabbed me right in the eyeball. It popped out while I was grazing in a heavy lap-busting volume of The Illustrated London News for 26 March 1949--the yearly volume resists being held in just one hand. Anyway it was first a photo of new tanks in an American cavalry regiment; beneath that, though, was this image:
The following images were made by Farm Security Administration/Office of
War Information photographers during World War II and are part of the
famous FSA photography series that I have written about here.
The color photographs--which were made in the first decade or so of
the use of this new medium--represented only about 1,600 of the
collection of 160,000 images in the FSA archive, and are far less known
than their black-and-white complements, many of which are new iconic
symbols for this period. The color images are beautiful works, and
somehow seem to bring these historic images a little closer to the
JF Ptak Science Books Quick Post Part of the Zoomology series
From the photography collection at the Library of Congress, offering deep and big graphic files. The file photograph looked interesting, but on closer inspection the magnificent central figure is revealed:
"Chain gang of convicts engaged in road work. Pitt County, North
Carolina. Autumn 1910. The inmates were quartered in the wagons shown in
the picture. Wagons were equipped with bunks and move from place to
place as labor is utilized. The central figure in the picture is J.Z.
McLawhon, who was at that time county superintendent of chain gangs. The
dogs are bloodhounds used for running down any attempted escapes."
These images from the Library of Congress daguerreotype collection offer a photographic glimpse into the everyday working life of Americans 150 years ago. Not as many of these jobs are as extinct as their expectations for extinction:
This is a continuation of sort of this morning's post, "Massive 500-Daguerreotype Mosaic", though this one concentrates on the sumptuous ruination and decay that has occurred within and to some of these photographic images. I've looked closely at only five of these images, and within each of these five images there are five more. And, if you manipulated the largest downloadable file of these (which range up to about 150 megs), there are five more within the five within the five. And all that before you start to imagine the artistic fantasies int he non-representational forms, and that before adding color. So five is all that will be here, for the present.
I take no credit whatsoever for the images below--they are all from the fabulous Library of Congress site, specifically from their daguerreotype collection of portraits. I simply wanted to see what they all might look like as a continuous mosaic, and I think the result is pretty remarkable, even given the limitations of my (soon to be rectified with Wordpress) limited Typepad account.
,Each image is clickable, linked to the Library of Congress site, with full explanation and catalog entry, and also with expanded choices for expanding the image.
I found Jack Delano as a photographer for the Farm Security administration where he worked for Ray Stryker making photographs of the vastly changing America during the mid/late 1930's. He worked with a relatively small group of photographers
including Esther Bubley, Marjory Collins, Mary Post Wolcott, Arthur
Rothstein, Walker Evans, Russell Lee, Gordon Parks,
Charlotte Brooks, John Vachon, Carl Mydans, Dorothea Lange and Ben
Shahn--as a collective they produced perhaps the greatest body of documentary work this country has ever seen. Delano was in his mid-20's when he started with the FSA, a little more than a decade in the U.S. after arriving here from the Ukraine (born Jack Ovcharov in 1914). Besides his life in photography, Delano was a gifted and versatile composer. He died in 1997.
Here's an interview with Delano at the Archives of American Art (here).
Most images below are from the FSA collection at the Library of Congress (here). Another nice selection is found at the Museum of Contemporary Photography (here)