Photogravures by Karl Blossfeldt (1865–1932). More here.
Tendrils of a pumpkin.
Young couple with motor car, c.1910. Photographer unknown.
An exhibition of extraordinary Edwardian colour photographs opens today at the National Media Museum,
This exhibition will open on the 25th May. Marking one hundred years of the first practical process for colour photography—the Autochrome, invented by the Lumiere brothers—the National Media Museum presents a major summer show on what has been described as “perhaps the most beautiful of all the photographic processes”.
Today, we take colour photography for granted. Yet, for many years colour photographs remained an elusive dream. One hundred years ago, the dream became a reality when the first fully practical method of colour photography appeared—the Autochrome process.
The Dawn of Colour celebrates centenary of the Autochrome and the birth of colour photography. It reveals the Edwardian world as you have probably never seen it before—in full, vibrant colour. The past isn’t always in black and white.
The photographer’s daughter Christina at Lulworth cove,
Dorset in 1913 by Mervyn O’Gorman.
The Seven Words: “It is finished!” (1912).
Photographer and publisher Fred Holland Day (1864–1933) enjoyed the iconography of Easter enough to stage his own crucifixion tableau with friends, as well as producing a series of seven pictures based on Christ’s last words, of which the final poignant number is shown above. His 1898 crucifixion is homoerotic enough it might still cause a stir among today’s gay-hating cross-wavers if they saw it, and he had the audacity to play the part of Christ himself.
No surprise, then, that he also enjoyed photographing the unclothed bodies of young men which caused some controversy at the time. The examples of his pictures below display the same ritualistic qualities seen in some of Derek Jarman‘s films, especially the more formal compositions of The Angelic Conversation. I’ve never seen any acknowledgment of Day’s work from Jarman but, given that they both concerned themselves with Saint Sebastian, I’d be surprised if he wasn’t at least aware of these pictures.
Suffering the Ideal (no date).
Jean Hippolyte Flandrin (1809-1864) was a Neo-Classical painter whose work tends to lack the sensuality of his master, Ingres, yet who managed to produce one picture at least which has been an inspiration to subsequent artists and photographers.
Jeune Homme Assis au Bord de la Mer (Young Man Sitting by the Seashore) was painted in 1836. The simplicity and directness of the rendering is probably intended to be reminiscent of Classical sculpture and the figures seen on Greek pottery and bas-reliefs. There’s nothing in Flandrin’s history to suggest a homoerotic intent but the picture has that effect nonetheless, and it’s to gay artists (and viewers) that the work has mostly appealed since, as can be seen below.
The first (?) copy, usually dated as being from 1900 although it may be earlier, and a very careful imitation of the original pose. Photographer Wilhelm von Gloeden specialised in Classical-themed gay erotica and gave his figure a Biblical allusion by titling the picture Cain. Gloeden’s follower, Gaetano d’Agata, produced his own version.
Ebony and Ivory (1897) by Fred Holland Day.
L’Apocalypse by Pierre Yves Trémois (1961).
Ajitto by Robert Mapplethorpe (1981).
A rare sculpture version, L’Homme de l’Apocalypse by Pierre Yves Trémois (1998).
Finally, here’s my own Fallen Angel picture from 2004 which added wings to the figure.