Discussing the use of photographs in early 19th century art let’s have a look and compare some very different works by very different artists. Like these examples of etchings by Anders Zorn 1860-1920 which are so obviously created with the aid of photographic negatives.
However, I haven’t come across any mentioning not even by critic and connoiseur Malcolm Salaman (1855-1940) who dedicated an album to Zorn in his Modern Masters of Etching in 1925. All he is enthusiastically writing about is the fine line technique and the healthy(..) appearance of the Nordic young women but nowhere is he hinting at the use of photography.
But they are unmistakenly extremely close to the original photographs. Fine artisticly executed tracings would be a more appropriate description. Same goes for many of his portraits. But I failed finding any references in literature. Maybe I just have'nt read enough. In the case of Schmutzer many photo's are available, but not so with Zorn. This painting and etching below: all I could find was the admiration for Zorn's realistic rendering of water and the natural postures, the idylle of mother and child. Which are all quite true of course.
Probably the photo's will never be found. In Zorn’s days they wouldn’t be considered Great Art but voyeur or "risque". That is to say to be enjoyed in a gentlemen’s smoking room. Besides very famous they made Zorn, a Swedish icon, also filthy rich. My look towards his otherwise great Art however has changed. I can’t help finding them less appealing and original and wished I hadn’t had such a suspiscious mind. Just not as freely created as they suggest to be ?
On the opposite side of the spectrum is William Hyde. A completely different appraoch but also called photogravure. Looking closely, the use of a photographical source is eminent. But Hyde’s photogravures look like photogravures, Schmutzers’ photogravures look like etchings, while Zorn’s photogravures breath photograph. Hyde is somewhat enigmatic. There are no biographical facts recorded anywhere (to my knowledge) and because other then the illustrations for this one book he is completely unknown and obscured. His London views however are unequaled.
A photogravure by Leonard Missone (1870-1948) the photographer who really could paint with his camera and saw the gloomy beauty of bad weather and was at his best in twilight and most of all: in rain.
A great Hamburg harbour scene by German photographer Kurt Hielscher (1881-1948) excecuted like an etching. Compare this water's surface to Emile Verpilleux Thames (link) print, and I'm convinced he also used photography for his print
From his portraits of famous clergymen by Emile Verpilleux (1888-1964). Obviously created with the help of photographs I’ve excavated. They are relatively unknown, an amalgam of 19th century silhouette portrait, photograph and wood engraving techniques. And another example of creativity and exploring different mediums and technical possibilities.
Portrait photograph and woodblock of preacher Agnes Maud Royden (1876-1956) by Emile Verpilleux
Portraits of Peter van der Braken by Dutch Henri Berssenbrugge (1873-1959) and a head study by Joseph T. Keiley (1869-1914) show how many different approaches can be observed.
Many artist in different countries became involved in these photography based techniques, pioneering and experimenting some of them obtaining stunning results. In these examples the many differences in approach and technique are obvious. But in all of them is echoeing their 19th century training.
Photogravure by French painter and photographer Robert Demachy (1854-1936)
L: Joseph Dudley-Johnston (1868-1955)
R: Alvin Langdon Coburn (1882-1966)
The list of great examples is ofcourse endless. So I'ld better close this posting the way I started. Great buttocks: painting/study by Felix Valloton (1865-1925) who had either a steady eye and a patient, unnamed, model and/or a camera at hand. And the photogravure by Alfred Steiglitz (1864-1946) showing the glorious icons of Ellen Koeniger. Sadly I have no further biographical data other then these great athletes were immortalised in 1916.
There’s a great Website dedicated to photogravure, explaining technical aspects and a free and great database: www.photogravure.com