Photography was one of the very few technical innova- tions which the people of Iceland were able to adopt in the 19th century. The country was a Danish colony, its social structure undeveloped, and its population sparse: in 1840 there were only 57,000 inhabitants in an island with an area of 103,000 square kilometres. Daguerre’s method became universally known in 1839, and just a few years later this technology was brought to Iceland by Icelanders who had learned it in Scandinavia and also by foreign travellers, especially the French and the British, who visited Iceland on research expeditions or pleasure trips.
The oldest photographs of Iceland which have been preserved are two daguerreotypes taken by the French mineralogist Alfred Des Cloiseaux (1817–1897) in Reykjavík in 1845. The early stages of photography in Iceland were rather protracted. Three things in particular account for the length of time it took for photography to put down roots there. Most of the inhabitants lived very simple lives; the country was in its very first stages of urbanisation; and the art of portraiture had not become established among the people even though there were a few local artists who had studied at the Academy of Art in Copenhagen.
Photography in Iceland, therefore, differs from pho- tography in other places in Europe because it fell to the lot of photography to create a tradition of portraiture and so it was in fact the precursor of the painted picture. From 1845 until after 1860, a few people tried their hand at photography but they practised it only for a short time. Two of them took photographs using the daguerreotype, but none of their images have survived. Customers were slow in coming forward, technical difficulties took their toll on production and photographers had to depend for their photographic materials on the infrequent arrivals of ships from abroad.
The turning-point occurred when the photographer Sigfús Eymundsson (1837–1809) started working in the country’s burgeoning capital city, Reykjavík, in 1866. He became the first photographer in Iceland to succeed in making a living at photography, although he was engaged in many other activities over the course of time. He pioneered various innovations in photog- raphy, such as the multiple reproduction of portraits of prominent Icelanders, imitations of sterescopes featur- ing identical photographs side by side but without the three-dimensional effect and, starting in 1874, he took the first scenic photographs in large format, which he sold to foreign visitors. A considerable selection of original photographs by Sigfús has been preserved, and his collection of plates is in the Þjóðminjasafn Íslands (the National Museum of Iceland).
As urban areas developed and the population density increased, so did the number of photographers, and as soon as villages such as Djúpivogur, Ísafjörður and Akureyri had the capacity to support them, they acquired their own photographers. Among them was Nicoline Weywadt (1848–1921), the first woman photographer, who did her training in Copenhagen, Denmark (as did the majority of Icelandic photographers up until 1890) and who began working in 1872 in Djúpivogur in Eastern Iceland. In the year 1890 there were 10 pho- tographers working in eight places and by 1900 this had increased to 23 in 16 places.
As the number of photographers grew, basic training in the subject was shifted to Iceland, but most photog- raphers still got their advanced training in Denmark as before. Photography was closely related to handicrafts and trade and those who worked at it were generally working in other branches of the craft industry, or as tradesmen, or were the daughters of shop managers or civil servants. Their product was principally por- trait photographs. As settlements were far-flung, the photographers had to travel around the rural areas of the country or to other villages in order to come into contact with sufficient customers. Two kinds of portrayal other than the traditional portrait rapidly became firm favourites in Icelandic photography: pictures of people in front of their farmhouses, and pictures of people on horseback. Photographs taken by overseas visitors may have started this trend, since the foreigners were intrigued by the fact that, until well into the 20th century, farmhouses were usually turf houses and horses were the main method of transportation in Iceland. As very few photographs from Iceland dating from the 19th century have been preserved, the photographs taken by foreign travellers have great historical value.
The first publication of Icelandic photographs was produced for the Tourist Board of Iceland in 1896 and was intended for foreign visitors. The photographs showed the main tourist attractions of the country such as Gullfoss and Geysir (still the most frequently visited sites in Iceland) and most of the scenes were photo- graphed by Sigfús Eymundsson. Ever since, landscape photography has been the dominant branch, apart from portraiture, in Icelandic photography, and its key mission has been to promote Iceland internationally and also to preserve Icelandic national identity.
ILLUSTRATED LONDON NEWS Publication
The Illustrated London News, which commenced publication on 14 May 1842, was the first newspaper to regularly illustrate its topical news stories with woodcuts, drawings and photographs. This popular weekly was a forerunner of similar publications such as L’Illustration and Harper’s Weekly. Its founder Herbert Ingram was born in Boston, Lincolnshire, England on
27 May 1811. Whilst working in the London printing industry he noticed that newspapers sold more copies when they contained woodcut illustrations. This encour- aged him to launch the Illustrated London News, with Mark Lemon, the editor of Punch, as his chief adviser. Ingram hired skilled engravers and illustrators and the first edition sold over 26,000 copies and within a few months was selling 65,000 copies per week.
He recognised that photography could be used to enhance the publication. He hired the renowned por- trait photographer Antoine François Jean Claudet to photograph a panoramic view from the top of the Duke of York’s Column, Pall Mall, London. Claudet used a specially designed camera for the commission. An artist, C.F. Sargent drew the details of Claudet’s daguerreo- types onto sixty wood blocks. The engraving was then undertaken by the firm of Ebenezer Landell. The result- ing print was circulated to subscribers and proved to be a hugely successful boost to sales. Until the development of Scott Archer’s collodion process, daguerreotypes had to be traced and stencilled onto wood blocks. In 1857, George N. Barnard invented a process whereby the col- lodion negative could be printed directly onto the block. This method was used until the advent of the halftone and line processes in the 1880s which allowed for the rapid production of illustrations.
The newspaper’s images were often accompanied by first-hand accounts of notable events. In response to negative reports in the London Times, Roger Fenton was commissioned to photograph the Crimean War in 1855. He travelled with a horse-drawn photographic van and used the newly developed wet collodion plate. Fenton returned with over three hundred war scenes and military portraits, some of which were reproduced by the Illustrated London News. James Robertson also reported from the Crimea and engravings based on his photographs appeared in the newspaper. Other major events which were featured by the Illustrated London News include the Irish Famine in 1847; the Great Exhibition of 1851 and the outbreak of the American Civil War in 1861. Over 150,000 copies were sold of the edition that reported the funeral of the Duke of Wellington.
Ingram was a staunch Liberal who favoured social reform and this is reflected to a certain extent within the Illustrated London News, for example, he used the paper to further his campaign against child labour. Yet the newspaper generally reflected the interests and pre- occupations of its middle-class readership and the con- cerns of the British Empire. Ingram was to die tragically when the steamship Lady Elgin sank on Lake Michigan in 1860. His widow Anne continued to run the business with the assistance of Mason Jackson, the paper’s Art Editor. The newspaper’s success continued into the twentieth century when it hired some of England’s top artists including Frank Reynolds and Henry Brock. It ceased publication in 1993.
In the fall of 1890, George Davison gave a paper at the Royal Society of Arts called “Impressionism in Pho- tography.” He aimed to connect modern photography with modern art, explaining that the “newer school of photographers” and “the body of painters known as impressionists” embraced the same principles: “Our impressions are made up of light and light values in relation to one another—colour, form, binocular vision effect, focus, perspective.” Davison rejected what he saw as the idealism of much photographic art, and argued instead for “a close observation of natural appearances under the materialistic tendency of the age” (Davison 1890, 823, 821). He distinguished between representa- tions predicated on verisimilitude, and those arrived at through the personal interpretation of an artist, citing French and British texts such as Ernest Chesneau’s The Education of the Artist (1886) and Francis Bate’s The Naturalistic School of Painting (1887).
Davison provided a coherent reading of key formal and philosophical elements of the aesthetic, yet im- pressionism was a slippery notion. The very name was speculative; of the eight exhibitions of ‘impressionist’ painting in Paris, none used that appellation, which first appeared in Louis Leroy’s satirical 1874 review of the first exhibition (partly inspired by Claude Monet’s painting, Impression; Sunrise). Émile Zola called the new painters ‘naturalistes,’ and quite correctly, for the tenets of impressionism overlapped with naturalism and realism. This also pertained to photography; Peter Henry Emerson argued that while “Impressionism means
the same thing as naturalism,” he preferred the latter, in which the work of art “can always be referred to a standard—Nature” (Emerson 1889, 22). Indeed, early ‘impressionist’ photographs are nearly indistinguishable from their ‘naturalistic’ counterparts. Both embraced the iconography of landscape and rural genre, and even the practitioners, such as Alexander Keighley and Lyonel Clark (see, the Linked Ring), were much the same.
In an 1891 article on art photography, James von Falke presented three definitions of impressionism. The first two accorded with the acknowledged percep- tual basis, being “the reproduction of the impression made on the artist’s eye,” and the impression “which a landscape produces on the spectator’s eye by virtue of its inherent character.” The third version was that “understood in artistic circles, namely, the dissolving and indefiniteness of the forms and tones” (von Falke 1891, 393). This tallied with Leroy’s criticism of the indefinition in Impression; Sunrise, and it conformed to the explanation given by Alfred Brothers in 1892. Defining the “attempt to produce by photographic means an imitation of what is called the ‘Impressionist’ school of art,” he identified the principal “effect” as the produc- tion of an image being “what is called ‘out of focus” (Brothers 1892, 302).
In part, this simply extended the popular equation of naturalistic photography and diffusion. A more di- rect provocation came from Davison’s use of pinhole photography, first linked to impressionism at the 1889 Photographic Society exhibition, when the Daily Tele- graph described Davison’s “soft, impressionist work caught through a pinhole.” Pinhole apertures originally had a scientific application, and only became practical for imaging once fast dry plate negatives shortened the exposure time. From 1888, they were used for a soft-focus effect, as were single lenses and slit apertures. Whereas naturalistic photography’s analytic approach to vision and representation utilised selective focus, the uniform diffusion of pinhole photography accorded with the more synthetic experience of the ‘impression.’ All of this was incorporated in a long-standing argument about focus and diffusion (see art photography and aesthetics). Indeed, both impressionist painting and photography adopted established pictorial models; Monet based Impression; Sunrise on the traditional ‘ébauche,’ or painted sketch.
In 1888, the British photographer Graham Balfour suggested diffused focus as a photographic version of the summary execution practised by impressionist painters. A similar intention encouraged the adoption of manipulative processes such as direct carbon print- ing on Artigue paper (Charles Constant Puyo), brush- developed platinum printing (Joseph T. Keiley and Gertrude Käsebier), and additive marking on negatives (Frank Eugene), while in 1898, Fritz Matthies-Ma- suren recommended gum prints for “simple, painterly effects.” The inflected surfaces of such photographs were thought to further authenticate photography as fine art, in opposition to the machine-made perfection of manufactured printing papers. However, manipulated photographs were not acceptable to all. Both Emerson and Davison saw retouching as an adulteration or ide- alisation of natural, photographic truth, a view upheld by proponents of the ‘straight print,’ such as Frederick Hollyer and Frederick H. Evans.
The advocates of impressionist painting defended rapid brush work as the means of recording transitory phenomena. The photographer could hardly argue this necessity, for the camera could instantaneously capture a scene with detail and precision. The painters them- selves were ambivalent about instantaneity. In 1872, Edgar Degas complained of the tendency among young painters to begin work without thought or premedita- tion: “The instantaneous is photography, nothing more” (Degas 1872, 220). This view was echoed by many
photographers and attributed to the unconsidered work arising from snapshot photography. Yet instantaneity brought artistic benefits: practical exposure times could be obtained with low light levels, which suited the natu- ralistic and impressionist interest in atmospheric effects of light and weather (also see under night photography). In the 1890s, photography was credited with inspiring new compositional structures in art, as discussed by the editor of The Studio, Gleeson White, and the German art historian, Richard Muther. They identified aesthetic crosscurrents between snapshot photography, impres- sionism, and Japanese art; asymmetric and seemingly arbitrary framing, the compression of space, and an emphasis on foreground objects, presented as close-ups and functioning as dynamic compositional devices. Such elements appear in stereoscopic photography as early as the 1860s, and recur in later, ‘pictorialist’ photographs by Alvin Langdon Coburn, Theodor and Oskar Hof- meister, and Heinrich Kühn.
‘Impressionist’ characteristics of soft focus, restricted tonal range, and manipulative technique persisted in pictorialism, and in twentieth century processes such as bromoil and three-colour Fresson printing and com- mercially manufactured imitations of non-standard papers. Impressionism has been accused of being an ill-conceived imitation of painting, untrue to the essence of photography. Yet its diffused and expressive effects looked ahead to abstraction, and those most dismissive of the aesthetic championed a modernist photography that prioritised an objective vision—to see things as they are, without conventionalism—the very ethos of naturalism and impressionism.
George B. Jr., and Mary M. Vaux, William Sansom Vaux, Jr. Twin Falls, Yoho Valley, 100 ft. High, Mark Field, British Columbia.
The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
INDONESIA (NETHERLANDS, EAST INDIES)
The colonial government in the Netherlands East In- dies, now the Republic of Indonesia, quickly saw how photography could be employed to record Javanese antiquities and natural history. Only a year after Louis- Jacques-Mandé Daguerre’s (1787–1851) invention had been announced in France in August 1839, the Dutch Ministry of Colonies commissioned Jurriaan Munnich (1817–1865), a medical officer to travel to Java to “test and employ photography in our tropical regions” and to collect photographic representations of the “principle views, etc. and also of plants and other natural objects.” He was the first known daguerreotypist to have worked in the country. Largely due to technical difficulties, compounded by the climate, the 64 photographs he took were not very satisfactory; even his most successful image had an exposure time of 26 minutes.
In 1843 the Dutch government accepted a request from Adolph Schaefer, a German-born Daguerreotypist then working in The Hague, for permission to travel to the Netherlands East Indies in return for photographic work. Schaefer arrived there in June 1844 and first worked in Buitenzorg (now Bonger). In September 1844 he established what was probably the first portrait studio in the colony in the capital Batavia (Jakarta). Besides portraits he also made copies of paintings, etc. Evaluating the new technique, the Dutch-language newspaper the Javasche Courant (22 February 1845) stated: ‘Those who like to be flattered should never long for a daguerreotype portrait; here there is no flattery, it is a mirror that reflects back both the imperfections and the beauties.’ In April 1845 Schaefer was ordered to make Daguerreotypes of some of the collections of the Batavian Society of Arts and Sciences in Batavia and later in the same year he was sent to Central Java to make Daguerreotypes of the bas-reliefs of the Borobu- dur temple. He produced at least 58 successful images, many of which have survived. He later worked as an independent photographer in Semarang.
While the 1840s were dominated by government sponsorship of photography, in the 1850s the growing popularity of studio portraits created a market for a larger number of itinerant photographers to visit the Colony. In early 1853 the itinerate photographer L. Saurman, who had earlier worked in Singapore, visited Batavia and operated ‘Saurman’s Daguerrian Gallery’ from the Marine Hotel for a short time before travelling on. Later in the same year another itinerate photographer C. Duben, earlier active in Shanghai, Macao, Manila and Hong Kong, visited Batavia for the first time. The first photographer in Batavia who produced photographs on glass and paper was Antoine Francois Lecouteux. Starting in 1854, by mid-1855 he had teamed up with the Belgian-born portrait painter and theatre personal- ity Isadore van Kinsbergen (1821–1905). Lecouteux took the photographs and Van Kinsbergen then colored or retouched these. Lecouteux was probably the first photographer to successfully operate a semi-permanent studio as distinct from the many itinerate photographers who traveled from one place to another in search of new clients, mainly rich European colonial officials, merchants and planters and to a lesser extent the Chinese upper class. Except for the local rulers, the indigenous peoples were in no way able to afford the prices asked.
In 1862 Isodore van Kinsbergen, by now a skilled photographer, acted as official photographer on a diplo- matic mission to Siam and later that year accompanied the Governor-General on a tour of Java and Bali. His views of Bali were especially well received (he was also allowed to to take portraits of the captured leader of the Balinese resistance during his detention in Batavia in 1868). This led to another government commission to make a large-scale photographic documentation of Javanese antiquities which occupied Van Kinsbergen from 1863–1867, resulting in portfolios of some 350 prints entitled Oudheden van Java (Antiquities of Java). He then was commissioned to photograph the sculptures and reliefs of Borobudur. In the 1870s Van Kinsbergen established a portrait studio in Batavia in partnership with H. Salzwedel, who later operated a successful studio in Surabaya. Van Kinsbergen continued to op- erate a studio under his own name for the rest of the century and like most of his contemporaries specialized in portraiture.
In May 1857 two British photographers arrived in the Colony from Australia. Walter Bentley Woodbury (1834–1885) and James Page (1833–1865) had planned to stay in Java for only a short time before travelling on to other European colonies in the region. “Woodbury & Page” was immediately successful and continued to exist for nearly fifty years, long after their departure. First operating a portrait studio in Batavia, they quickly started to travel around Java in search of more clients. On these journeys they also took large plate topographi- cal views of the towns and countryside they visited, and Walter Woodbury also produced stereo views. Some of
the latter were marketed by Negretti & Zambra, London, in the early 1860s. Traveling beyond the main island of Java representatives of the firm produced an increasingly large selection of landscape views. Sold individually or in albums these were extremely popular as souvenirs or as gifts for family and friends back home. No other firm was to have such a large selection. Similarly they pro- duced hundreds of different native ‘types’ of the whole archipelago, often published as cartes de visite. Mainly produced for the commercial market, these pictures were not so much a record of the lives of the inhabitants of the Netherlands East Indies than a record of how European photographers intended to depict them.
By the late 1870s all the larger towns and cities boosted a number a competent photographers and even in the smaller places studios were being established. By the end of the century the firm of “Woodbury & Page” was in decline, succeeded in popularity by larger, more efficient firms such as “Charls & van Es,” established in the 1880s, with branches in Surabaya and Batavia. Returning to England in 1863, W.B. Woodbury went on to become a noted photographic inventor, while J. Page died a few months after his arrival from a tropical disease he contracted in the Indies.
Although many photographers, including “Woodbury & Page,” had visited Sumatra the photographic firm of “G.R. Lambert and Co.,” in Singapore was among the first to establish a permanent studio on the island in the 1880s. Some of the company’s leading photogra- phers such as C.J. Kleingrothe (Medan) and H. Ernst (Bindjai) were to remain on the island as independent photographers. Not coincidentally, this interest occurred at the same time when the Dutch authorities were ex- panding their presence into Atjeh in the north of the island by military force. While the official government Topographical Dienst operated their own photography division (established already in the 1860s using mainly military personnel), many photographers, both amateur and professional took photographs of these military campaigns, as well as of later campaigns on Lombak and Bali.
In the last decades of the nineteenth century also non-European photographers became active, a trend that would continue in the twentieth century. They were generally less expensive that their European colleagues. One of the few native born photographers was Kas- sian Cephas (1845–1912). Working in Jogyakarta, the Christian Javanese Cephas, later assisted by his sons, began his career as court photographer to the local ruler. Later he also received many government commissions and provided illustrations for scientific publications. Amongst the non-European photographers, the Chinese, often from Singapore and Hong Kong, were probably the largest group. One of the most successful was Tan Tjie Lan in Batavia. Other important groups were the Japanese, such as Mazaraki in Medan, and the Arme- nians. Of the latter Onnes Kurkdjian (1851–1903), with a studio in Surabaya, was extremely successful. In 1904 his successors formed a limited liability company, a trend common amongst many of the larger firms at the time. In addition to studio work, they also sold photo- graphic supplies, developed photographs and operated galleries to promote the art of photography amongst the rapidly growing market of amateurs. Already in the 1850 travelling photographers had offered lessons in photography. Later in the century most of the established studios as well as many stores offered cameras and other photographic supplies and developed the negatives of their clients who could also use their darkroom facilities. In 1902 there was even a magazine called the Indisch Lux published especially for this increasingly important amateur market.