American Pictorial Photography, published in an edition of only 150 by Alfred Stieglitz and the New York Camera Club at the turn of the century, is a key example of the role photogravure played in the crusade to have photography accepted as a fine art. The photogravures, mostly images from Camera Notes, were presented in portfolio form – beautifully printed and mounted on carefully chosen papers thereby achieving ‘parity’ with the more accepted platinum print.
Completed in 1932, ÉGYPTE is one of the finest books I have come across. Commissioned by King Fouad I of Egypt, Frederick Boissonnas traversed what was once ancient Egypt with his large format camera photographing the landscape, the people and the architecture. His photographs convey the impression that very little has changed in the structures and the lives of the people who inhabit them. We see veiled women in the streets, men at prayer, oxen in the field, and statues larger than life – all are bathed in strong light, or hidden in the deep shadows. The choice of hand-pulled photogravure makes this one of the finest of twentieth century photographic books.
In 1911 Constable and Company of London published the Memorial Edition of the Works of George Meredith. Housed in a separate folio was a set of sixty illustrations, including many drawings and portraits of Meredith, printed in photogravure. Included in this collection are several particularly successful quiet landscape photographs made by Frederick Evans.
Brine, Mary D., Little Lad Jamie. 1895 This charming little book is an example of fine tissue photogravure printing. The photographs are by Emma Justine Farnsworth, an important American amateur at the turn of the century and a member of the American pictorial movement in lead by Alfred Stieglitz.
Illustrated with seventy photogravure plates, Photographs of nebulae and clusters made with the Crossley reflector celebrates James Edward Keeler’s remarkable series of photographs of spiral nebulae and led to the realization that they were exterior galaxies. This work is a triumph of astrophysical and observational skills, astrophotography, and of photogravure as a medium of astronomical illustration.
For Evidence Of The Truth Of The Christian Religion, Derived From The Literal Fulfilment Of The Prophecy Alexander Keith asked his son, the medical doctor George S. Keith of Edinburgh, to make daggureotypes that would show the veracity of the Bible. George’s daggureotypes were made into engravings in order to ‘convince the unprejudiced inquierer or te rational and sincere believer, that it is impossible that his faith be false’ This was one of the earliest publications to incorporate the use of photographs as evidence – albeit not directly
Sun and Shade. An Artistic Periodical 1888 – 1896 This journal included many large, beautifully printed photogravure plates and should be included in any comprehensive survey of influential photographic publications at the turn of the century. Photographers represented include James Leon Williams, Julia Margaret Cameron and Alfred Stieglitz.
Die Kunst in der Photographie. 1897 – 1908 This publication may well be the most important and valuable documentation of art photography in the German language but, because of its rarity, has remained virtually unknown. Some consider it the first photographic journal in the world that concerned itself only with the photographic image and its aesthetics, which ignored all other themes, and treated art photography as an international movement. (David Spencer)