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The Letter

  • Object:

    Photographs

  • Date:

    1906 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Käsebier, Gertrude, born 1852 - died 1934 (photographer)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Platinum print

  • Credit Line:

    The Royal Photographic Society Collection at the V&A, acquired with the generous assistance of the National Lottery Heritage Fund and Art Fund

  • Museum number:

    RPS.62-2018

  • Gallery location:

    Photography Centre, Room 100, The Bern and Ronny Schwartz Gallery, case EAST WALL, shelf COBURN

Käsebier studied painting before opening a photography studio in New York. Her Pictorialist photographs often combine soft focus with experimental printing techniques. These sisters were dressed in historic costume for a ball, but their pose transforms a society portrait into a narrative picture. In a variant image, they turn to look at the framed silhouette on the wall.

Physical description

Black and white photograph depicting two women dressed in elaborate white dresses looking at a letter

Date

1906 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Käsebier, Gertrude, born 1852 - died 1934 (photographer)

Materials and Techniques

Platinum print

Dimensions

Height: 208 mm, Width: 155 mm

Object history note

Given by Alvin Langdon Coburn to the Royal Photographic Society, 1930

Descriptive line

Photograph by Gertrude Käsebier, 'The Letter', 1906, platinum print

Labels and date

Photography Centre 2018-20:

Collection in Focus: Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882–1966)

The British-American photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn enjoyed success on both sides of the Atlantic. Active in the early 20th century, he gained recognition from a young age as a talented photographer. His style ranged from the painterly softness of Pictorialism to the unusual vantage points and abstraction of Modernism. As well as being a practising photographer, Coburn was an avid collector. In 1930 he donated over 600 photographs to the Royal Photographic Society. The gift included examples of Coburn’s own work alongside that of his contemporaries, many of whom are now considered to be the most influential of their generation. Coburn also collected historic photographs, and was among the first in his time to rediscover and appreciate the work of 19th-century masters like Julia Margaret Cameron and Hill and Adamson.

15. Gertrude Käsebier (1852–1934)
The Letter
1906
Platinum print
Museum no. RPS.62-2018 []
Making It Up: Photographic Fictions (2018)
Marta Weiss

Käsebier studied painting before opening a photography studio in New York. Her Pictorialist photographs often combine soft focus with experimental printing techniques. These sisters were dressed in historic costume for a ball, but their pose transforms a society portrait into a narrative picture. In a variant image, they turn to look at the framed silhouette on the wall. []

Materials

Photographic paper

Techniques

Platinum; Photography

Categories

Photographs; The Royal Photographic Society; Portraits; RPS Digitisation Project

Collection

Royal Photographic Society Collection

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