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Swiss-born Brazilian photographer

One of Brazil’s most renowned 19th-century land- scape photographers, Wilhelm Gaensly was born in Switzerland on September 1, 1843, in the evangelical community of Felben-Wellhausen. In 1848, his mother, Anna Barbara Kym Gaensly, took young Wilhelm and his two brothers to join their father, Jacob Heinrich Gaensly, in Salvador, Bahia, in the Brazilian Northeast. Like other Swiss immigrants, they attended the Brit- ish Church, the first Protestant church in Bahia, which Gaensly later photographed, providing a precious re- cord of that historic building, which was demolished in 1975. Known professionally as Guilherme Gaensly, he started his career as a teenager, working as Albert Henschel’s assistant at “Photographia Alemã” (German Photography). In 1871, he formed a partnership with Waldemar Lange and Joseph Schleier (1827–1903), a German national with a Swiss Protestant wife. The firm was originally called “Maison Gaensly & Lange,” and its staff included the German photographer Karl Heinrich Gutzlaff, who had previously worked with Henschel and Schleier. From that time on, Gaensly enjoyed a steady rise to success and acclaim as a professional photographer. In 1877, the year he won three gold medals from the Imperial Liceu de Artes e Ofícios (a vocational school founded in 1872) and the Academia de Artes, Gaensly founded his own business at No. 1, Ladeira de São Bento, a prestigious address in the city center. Called “Photographia do Commercio” (Commercial District Photography), its advertisements declared that the studio owned “the biggest collection of views of Bahia, carte-de-visites, Imperial prints, convex prints and larger portraits.” In 1881, he partici- pated in the Brazilian National Library’s “Exposição
de História do Brasil” (“Brazilian History Exhibition”) in Rio de Janeiro (his name appears next to Schleier’s on some of the photographs shown there). He also ex- panded his business that year, opening a larger studio called “Photographia Premiada de Guilherme Gaensly” (Guilherme Gaensly’s Award-Winning Photography) at No. 92, Largo do Theatro (now Praça Castro Alves). His gold medals are proudly illustrated on the backs of his cartes-de-visite, which also proclaim that his studio produced “Reproductions and Enlargements with Full Quality—Plates Kept for Reproductions.” His services ranged from portraits to commissioned work, such as the “Álbum da Estrada de Ferro Central de Alagoas, Maceió e Vila Imperatriz” on the Central Railway in the province of Alagoas (1882–1884). All of his known works are albumen prints.
In 1882, Gaensly entered into a creatively productive and enduring partnership with his former assistant and future brother-in-law, Rudolf Friedrich Franz (Rodolpho Frederico Francisco) Lindemann, and the firm changed its name to “Gaensly & Lindemann.” (Little is known about Lindemann. He was born in Germany ca. 1852 and in 1870 he contributed photographs to illustrate the entry on Brazil in Émile Levasseur’s La Grande Ency- clopédie.) In 1894, Gaensly moved to São Paulo and opened a branch on Rua XV de Novembro, a famous street in the city center, leaving Lindemann to run the Bahia studio. For over 20 years, Gaensly worked for the São Paulo Tramway Light and Power Company (now Eletropaulo) and government agencies, including the Department of Agriculture. His partnership with Linde- mann ended in around 1900, when Gaensly changed his firm’s name to “Photographia Gaensly,” also advertised as “Photographia Guilherme Gaensly.”
In Bahia, Gaensly photographed numerous views of the outskirts of Salvador that are remarkable for their beauty, including fishermen’s huts and canoes in the Rio Vermelho district before it became part of the urban landscape. His photographs are valuable histori- cal documents of the city’s development between 1865 and the 1890s. The National Library of Brazil in Rio de Janeiro houses 64 photographs by Gaensly in the D. Thereza Cristina Maria Collection. Most are views of Salvador. In 1895, Gustavo Koenig Wald published photos by Gaensly in São Paulo 1895. Between 1900 and 1910, Gaensly’s studio produced several series of postcards on the city of São Paulo, as well as the Port of Santos and coffee plantations. During his years in that coffee-growing region of Brazil, he had photographed numerous plantations in rural São Paulo, including Araraquara, Ribeirão Preto, and Campinas, for the Department of Agriculture. According to art historian Vânia Carneiro de Carvalho, “In his portrayals of planta- tions, Guilherme Gaensly seeks to make the geometrical lines of the countryside coincide with the dividing lines of photographic planes. Movement is replaced with a rigorously analytical treatment of the image in which nature is framed in an orderly universe and rationalized production.... [We] see in photography the intention of monumentalizing its motif, whether through extreme close-ups or the immoderate addition of formal value to the motif, as well as the attempt to show it as an integral part of its surroundings.” Researcher and photographer Pedro Vasquez observes that Gaensly’s work for the São Paulo Tramway Light and Power Company “gave him an opportunity to develop his tremendous talent for landscape photography, which is wonderfully expressed in his ample documentation of the city of São Paulo’s modernization process.” Like Marc Ferrez, Benjamin Mulock, and Auguste Stahl, Gaensly’s railway photog- raphy transcended his commissions in documenting the natural surroundings and even human aspects of the works he portrayed, which accounts for his pho-
tographs’ lasting appeal. His talents were recognized abroad during his lifetime. He won a silver medal at the 1889 Exposition Universelle de Paris, where photogra- phy was featured prominently in the Brazilian pavilion (Lindemann also won awards that year for his views of Salvador and Recife). Gaensly received another silver medal at the 1904 World’s Fair in St. Louis, Missouri, where Brazil’s pavilion was a remarkable building with an octagonal dome designed by St. Louis architect Charles H. Deitering. Gaensly worked until about 1915 and died in São Paulo in 1928, after a long and success- ful career. Since 1975 his works have been shown in New York, Zurich, Berlin, Madrid, Rotterdam, Paris, and major Brazilian cities, including São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro, Campinas, Belo Horizonte and Brasilia. In ad- dition to the National Library collection, they can also be found at the Moreira Salles Institute, the Joaquim Nabuco Foundation and the Patrimônio Histórico da Energia de São Paulo (São Paulo Historic Heritage of Power) Foundation in Brazil.

Wilhelm (Guilherme) Gaensly was born in Wellhausen, Thurgau Canton, Switzerland, in 1843, to Jacob Hein- rich Gaensly and Anna Barbara Kym Gaensly. His father became a fabric merchant and cotton exporter in Salva- dor, Bahia, and the family—including the five-year-old Wilhelm and brothers Ferdinand and Frederick—joined him there in 1848. Gaensly’s sisters Julia and Alaine and at least two other siblings, Albert and Alwina, were born in Salvador. His former assistant Rudolf (Rodolpho) Lindemann became his business partner in 1882 and his brother-in-law in 1888, when he married Alaine Gaensly. Guilherme Gaensly wed Ida Elisabeth Itschner on May 5, 1888, in a Presbyterian ceremony witnessed by Lindemann. In 1894, Gaensly and his wife moved to São Paulo. He ran a branch of “Gaensly & Lindemann” until the partnership was dissolved in around 1900, and continued working there until about 1915. He died in São Paulo on June 20, 1928, survived by Ida Gaensly, who lived there until her death in 1933.

Gaensly, Wilhelm (Guilherme).
Ladeira de S. Francisco de Paula, Agua de Meninos, Egreja de S. S. Trindade, Ancoradouro. Acervo da Fundação Biblioteca Nacional, Brasil.


Gale was a London architect and part-time soldier, serv- ing with the 10th Surrey Rifle Volunteer Corps where he rose to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
Gale first took up photography in 1859 as an aid to his profession using a 10 × 8 inch Ottewill camera, later he used both stereo and panoramic cameras to make his studies. In 1866 Gale joined the Amateur Photographic Field Club whose 25 fellow members shared his inter- est in “mead and stream” subject matter, remaining a member until his death in 1906.
From 1879 he became a regular exhibitor at the Photographic Society’s annual exhibitions, where he displayed examples of his favored pictorial subjects, which he largely took in the southern English counties of Berkshire, Surrey and Sussex, often in the company of fellow photographer and friend, George Davison.
Gale, who recorded the rapidly changing way of rural life at the end of the 19th Century, was noted for the quality of his work which he printed using albumen, gelatin-silver and platinum papers, he also produced lantern slides. Gale’s best-known picture was the widely-published 1887 view “Sleepy Hollow,” a classic naturalistic study of a pair of heavy-horses at a ford.
Gale was one of the first members of the Linked Ring, being elected in May 1892 and taking the pseudonym “Rambler.”

The cult of celebrity was fuelled, in France as elsewhere, by the ready availability of portraits of public figures. Es- sentially an urban phenomenon, the collection of visual representations of noteworthy persons pre-dates photog- raphy, and by the middle of the nineteenth century the commerce in engraved and lithographed portraits was widespread. The advent of photography, coupled with the growth in the popular press, led to further expansion in the phenomenon of celebrity portraiture, especially of stars of the Parisian operatic and theatre world. The public’s taste for such imagery was catered for by serial publications such as Paris-Théâtre, founded in 1873, at 25 centimes per copy.
Another serial publication, Galerie Contemporaine, stands out due to its ambitious scope, as well as for the quality of photographic imagery it contained. Under- pinned by a certain patriotic sentiment and a more so- phisticated approach to celebrity, the subtitle Littéraire Artistique declares the work’s focus of interest to be high art. In fact Galerie Contemporaine evolved into the most impressive set of celebrity portraits published in nineteenth-century France, forming a vital visual record of the leading figures who shaped public life, in science and politics as well as the arts, during the Second Empire and the emergent Third Republic.
Within its pages, some of the most emblematic por- traits of the era appeared, such as Charles Baudelaire by Carjat, Alphonse Karr by Adam-Salomon and George Sand by Nadar. The usual claims to photography’s superiority and importance for posterity are set out in the introduction to volume III: “Voilà pourquoi ce livre sera consulté plus tard, avec fruit; car le portrait dessiné, toujours suspect, même chez les peintres de génie, a été remplacé par la photographie, chose brutale, implacable, éminemment scientifique parce qu’elle est indifférente” [This is why this book will be consulted later, with profit, because the drawn portrait, always suspect, even by painters of genius, has been replaced by photography, brutal, implacable, eminently scientific because it is neutral].
Galerie Contemporaine appeared weekly over a period of eight years from 1876 to 1884, under the imprint of Ludovic Baschet in Paris. Each issue com- prised a biographical essay and accompanying portrait, reproduced in Woodburytype printed by Goupil (and the successor firm Boussod, Valadon & Cie for the final volume). The cover price per issue was a relatively high 1franc 25 centimes. Published in two concurrent sec- tions or series—a first series “Littérateurs, Musiciens, Etc.” and a second series “Peintres et Sculpteurs,” probably appearing on alternate weeks, the work was subsequently bound up and re-issued in six monthly volumes comprising 26 issues, each volume contain- ing separate title pages for the first and second series. Some biographies in the second series were spread over two or more issues, explaining the irregular number of portraits in some volumes. The full run amounted to a total of 241 portraits issued in 13 volumes. While the letterpress biography was essentially similar across both series, the illustrations differed, inasmuch as the sub- jects in the first series were each represented by a large format portrait hors texte, generally 24 × 18 cm, within an ornamental border, while the subjects in the second series were represented by a smaller portrait, on average 12 × 8 cm, mounted in with the text, as well an example of the artist’s output, in a larger format print hors texte. Almost all these images of paintings and sculpture are reproduced directly from the original work, rather than after intermediate engravings or lithographs.
Since the letterpress matter was unpaginated, and the only table of contents was a cursory list of the celebri- ties featured on the title page to each series, collation is difficult and no standard bibliographical tool yet exists. Furthermore, individual part wrappers are undated. Much of the print run of the first edition must have re- mained unsold, since a second undated edition appeared as Galerie contemporaine des illustrations françaises under the imprint of Paul de Lacroix, in eight volumes containing between 126 and 141 portraits. Larger por- traits from this edition can be identified as mounted on undecorated cardstock.

Francis Galton, one of the most prolific and controver- sial polymaths in an age that had more than its share,
was born on February 16, 1822, in Sparkbrook, near Birmingham, England, the youngest child of a pros- perous banker and his boldly intellectual wife. After a suitably pampered upbringing, Galton began his formal education in earnest in schools in France and in Eng- land where he demonstrated his precociousness with measurement by tabulating the number and intensity of floggings administered by dour schoolmasters to unruly pupils. Following a brief tour of the Continent, a period of medical study commenced, first in Birmingham and then in the far more dynamic center of London, a pursuit which brought him into the orbit of a cosmopolitan and innovative scientific community. Restless, Galton moved for a time to Cambridge, where he studied mathemat- ics with great difficulty. On his father’s death in 1844, Galton, always somewhat uneasy in the academic envi- ronment, was left a fortune that obviated the need for a professional career and which would facilitate a series of adventures and inquiries, culminating six years later in a journey to map the interior of the African continent. He proved to be adept enough a topographer to record with accuracy the features of a large swath of southwestern Africa, as well as the dimensions of a number of native women, whose voluptuous forms the fascinated Euro- pean measured with precision.
Upon his return to London, Galton’s achievements were lauded by the Royal Geographical Society, to whose fellowship he was enthusiastically elected. Increasingly immersed in the scientific milieu of the metropolis, Galton married Louisa Butler, the member of a distinguished academic family, in 1853. Situated as he was in the midst of scientific activity, Galton was deeply influenced by the publication in 1859 of The Origin of Species, written by his cousin Charles Darwin, with whom Galton renewed his youthful friendship. The impact of Darwin’s account on both science and social thought can hardly be overstated, and Galton was so intrigued by the prominence accorded to heredity in the success or failure of creatures that he began to ponder an entirely new type of experimental inquiry. Extrapolat- ing from the agricultural breeding Darwin had used to demonstrate the integral relationship between natural selection and the forms of organisms, Galton asserted that such rationalized mating might be usefully applied to another group. Furthermore, Galton claimed, if physi- cal prowess was dictated by hereditary processes, then mental abilities must equally be inborn: “[i]f a twentieth part of the cost and pains were spent in measures for the improvement of the human race that is spent on the improvement of the breed of horses and cattle, what a galaxy of genius might we not create!” (Brookes, 2004, 144). These were not merely idle theoretical observa- tions, but a concrete program by which Galton imagined his nation could expedite the glacial pace of evolution. Galton continued to refine what he termed “eugenics” throughout the 1860s, and codified it most comprehen- sively in his 1869 book Hereditary Genius.
By 1873, Galton had begun to seek a way to apply his insights in a practical manner, and the necessary first step would be an accounting of the nation’s entire pool of human resources. Galton attempted to accumulate data from schools of every rank throughout England, but when his efforts were received coolly by these institutions, he turned to an acquaintance, Sir Edward du Cane, Inspector of Prisons, for assistance. Galton was furnished with photographs of convicts, which he quickly sorted into classes based upon the type and severity of their transgressions. With this raw imagery at hand, Galton wondered how he could distill the essential physical attributes of each of these classes, soon arriving at a novel method. By successively photographing eight images onto a single plate, in the same position and with an equal fraction of the nor- mal exposure time, Galton found that a superimposed composite of all eight faces could be produced. This composite portrait was of remarkable value to Galton’s project, for it obliterated the individual idiosyncracies of the men, but emphasized those features which they shared. This photographic enterprise, while techni- cally innovative, remained conceptually dubious, for it seemed to confirm the long-held position, to which Galton subscribed, that certain physical manifestations were exterior correlates of mental or even moral states. Yet, what was most important for Galton was the fact that the photographic breeding that occurred during the course of these experiments seemed to offer a predictive value for the kinds of policies that his eugenics sought to institute. In an article of 1882, Galton described the prospective use of these works: “The easiest direction in which a race can be improved is towards that central type...there can hardly be a more appropriate method of discovering the central physiognomical type of any race or group than of composite portraiture” (Galton, 1883, 10).
Galton’s use of composite photography ultimately lead to a number of related projects, as when he used the measure of deviation from this photographically de- duced “central type” as the basis for a system of indexing portraits, so that the likeness of an individual could be easily encoded and disseminated, for example, to law enforcement agencies via wireless. Other enterprises derived from this innovation included the creation of supposedly definitive likenesses of historical figures based upon a composite rendering of their representa- tions on coins and medals, and a procedure for measur- ing the distance between two points through a series of photographs taken from distinct viewpoints.
For Galton, photography seemed to provide a reli- able means for securing the scientific validity to which his eugenic theories aspired, and was imagined to be
an objective medium through which the physiognomic manifestation of human qualities could be envisioned in pure pictorial fashion. His photographic experiments proceeded from his fundamental misunderstanding of the nature of this mode of representation, as well as his deeply flawed notions of heredity and evolution. It was in the service of this suspect program that Galton’s technologically inventive photographic experiments were employed, and to which his ambivalent legacy can be attributed.

Sir Francis Galton was born on February 16, 1822 in Sparkbrook, near Birmingham, England into the comfortable household of Samuel Tertius Galton and Violetta Darwin Galton. After schooling in medicine and in mathematics, he embarked on a cartographic voyage to Africa in 1850, returning to London to wed Louisa Butler in 1853. Deeply influenced by the 1857 publica- tion of Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, he began a series of studies in heredity and proposed a program of breeding he called “eugenics,” which aimed to accelerate the evolutionary process of sorting out what he deemed to be the inferior characteristics of humanity. In an ef- fort to determine and demonstrate the nature of these unfavorable traits, Galton acquired in 1873 photographs of prison inmates and employed an innovative process of composite photography, in which several images were superimposed onto a single photographic plate. A great diversity of photographic pursuits based upon this technique followed in the 1870s and 1880s. Upon his death on January 17, 1911, the problematic program in which Galton’s photographic ingenuity was employed had begun to overshadow his technical achievement.

1 comment:

  1. Muito obrigado por ter colocado aqui um representante da fotografia brasileira. Por cá ainda não nos valorizamos tanto e o conhecimento acerca dos nossos fotógrafos é de difícil acesso. Obrigado.