New exhibit highlights portrait photography in Milner Library Special Collections – News

A new exhibition on screen in the Exclusive Collections Reading Room as a result of December 22, 2022, focuses on photographic portraiture from the 19th and 20th centuries.

Full length portrait of a young girl with corkscrew curls in her hair. She is wearing a mid-length dress and posing for a studio portrait resting her arm on a cloth covered table with a book on top while holding a bouquet in her opposite hand
The carte de visite, a modest albumen print mounted to a thick card backing, was patented in 1854.

Shadow Portraits: 19th and 20th Century Pictures and Artist’s Books

Portraits have long made available the assure of memorializing or correcting a person’s external likeness, of freezing a instant in time. At times the photographs are whimsical and enjoyment, other instances they are grotesque, vapid, preposterous, or gritty. But the greatest of these portraits existing further and maybe far more tantalizing prospects—they capture an essence that by some means both of those demonstrates and reveals the sitter. They provide the possibility to discover meaning in appearances and in the imagined partnership concerning the portrait issue, the unseen photographer, and the viewer.

“One day, very some time back, I took place on a photograph of Napoleon’s youngest brother, Jerome, taken in 1852. And I recognized then, with an amazement I have not been equipped to lessen considering that: ‘I am searching at eyes that appeared at the Emperor.’”

              — Roland Barthes, Camera Lucida: Reflections on Images

From the outset, pictures modified the way that persons interact with visuals of on their own and other individuals. The rise in reproducibility led to an exchange of rarity for ubiquity, altering the social codes embedded in possessing one’s picture, or that of a loved a single. Photography also brought accumulating to the middle course. It enabled movie star (or at minimum notoriety) to effortlessly unfold and this commodification of popular likenesses grew to become mingled with the acquisition of particular representations.

Five women seated in a line in front of a circus wagon that reads Bailey Greatest Show. The women are wearing ankle-length skirts and dresses and are posed with their hands resting on the shoulders of the woman next to them
This 1912 portrait of performers with the Barnum & Bailey Circus demonstrates two unidentified women of all ages on each close of the team. In the middle, from remaining to proper, is Victoria Codona, Stella Wirth, and May Wirth.

Scrapbooks mixing own and superstar images were being common in the Victorian period, and the influence of the “influencers” can be found early and frequently in studio portraits. The late 19th and early 20th hundreds of years ushered in a enormous need for studio perform and collectible celeb portraits, quite a few of which can be observed in this show as images of circus stars these types of as Lavinia Warren, May well Wirth, and Lillian Leitzel.

The performs in this exhibit are centered primarily all over photography and are largely portraits, nevertheless some artist’s textbooks and self-portraits are provided. Quite a few of the operates study the fluidity of the interactions of their creators to their subjects, no matter if personal or qualified, but all purpose to distill a deeply human connection and to pass that alongside to the viewer.

: Exhibit case with eight square sections filled with photographs and books. All images are portraits
A look at of 1 of the screen scenarios in the Distinctive Collections Examining Space.

Check out the exhibition or timetable a course session in Specific Collections
Shadow Portraits: 19th and 20th Century Images and Artist’s Guides is on perspective by way of Thursday, December 22, 2022, any time the Specific Collections Reading through Area is open up. Please call Rebecca Fitzsimmons ([email protected]) for further information or if you would like to prepare a class go to.

Kenneth Proto

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