Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Edward Steichen Autochromes come to light

Interesting story in the NY Times on two Autochromes by Edward Steichen (via the LF list)

"At first glance the two pictures seem to be gorgeous anachronisms, full-color blasts from the black-and-white world of 1908, the year Ford introduced the Model T and Theodore Roosevelt was nearing the end of his second term...

...Almost as intriguing as the pictures themselves, however, is the story of how they recently made their way from a house in Buffalo, where they apparently sat unseen for decades, to the collection of the George Eastman House in Rochester, one of the world’s leading photography museums, where they will be exhibited for the first time this fall.

Eastman House has a substantial collection of Steichen works, including 22 of the same kind of color photographs, known as autochromes. But when Anthony Bannon, the museum’s director, received a call last summer from a Buffalo lawyer, who said his client, Charlotte Albright, a 96-year-old painter, wanted to donate three examples of what were probably antique glass-plate negatives, Mr. Bannon assumed they were the works of her mother, Charlotte Spaulding...

...In August Mr. Bannon drove to Buffalo to meet the lawyer, Robert J. Plache. Because of the two men’s erratic schedules, they arranged on the fly to meet in the parking lot of an ice cream parlor in a Buffalo suburb, where Mr. Plache emerged from his car with a plastic-wrapped package.

Upon opening it, Mr. Bannon saw that one item inside was a Spaulding glass-plate negative. Then, almost immediately, he realized that the other two 5-by-7-inch pieces of glass, portraits of a beautiful young woman in an Edwardian gown
and pearls, were not.

They were Steichens, one of them signed... more

As someone pointed out, the first one is decidedly Klimt-ish

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