Monday, March 25, 2013

William Henry Jackson Photochroms - Photography of the American West

WH Jackson, Midway Point, Monterey, California
Lately I am fascinated by the works of American photographer William Henry Jackson (1843-1942), who was renowned for documenting the expansion of the West.  I have found a couple of his images taken on the Pacific coast--this one is Midway Point in Monterey, California.
WH Jackson, Crow in feather headdress, Montana, late 19th century.  See more here.
After fighting in the Civil War, Jackson traveled extensively throughout the American West and photographed the natural wonders he saw there as part of the US Government Surveys. His 1870s images along the Yellowstone River were instrumental in persuading Congress to make Yellowstone the first National Park in 1872.
WH Jackson, The Cleveland Arcade, Library of Congress collection
Jackson traveled all over the United States and around the globe, documenting cities, people and landscapes of all sorts.  He worked for several railroad companies and shot the locomotives that became emblematic of the push west.  Architect Daniel Burnham hired Jackson to document the buildings of Chicago’s 1893 Columbian Exposition before it was razed.  These were published as Jackson’s Famous Pictures of the World’s Fair--you can see them all on the Ball State University website.
WH Jackson, Administration Building, World's Columbian Exposition, c. 1894.
In 1897, after capturing the American landscape for more than 25 years, Jackson sold his extensive archive of negatives to the Detroit Photographic Company and joined the firm. By 1906, the firm changed its name to the Detroit Publishing Company and used Jackson’s negatives to produce countless color postcards. Jackson’s archive of negatives was eventually purchased by Henry Ford and is now divided between the Colorado Historical Society and the Library of Congress
WH Jackson, Castle Rock, Santa Barbara, California
The images I have are photochroms, color lithographs made from a black and white photographic negative (the process originated in Switzerland, hence the spelling; it is also sometimes spelled ‘photochrome’).  At least four color plates are used in the process, resulting in a rich, vibrant image. The printed surface has some shine to it, it is not matte like a print in a book.
These photochroms were printed by the Detroit Photographic Company and are generally marked on both the print and mat. 

I'm always looking for more of these!  I especially like California image or other scenes at the beach.

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg, except where noted

Monday, March 18, 2013

Southwest Wool Serape Fragment in Orange with Paper Label

Sometimes I come across a piece I love, but don't necessarily know everything about.  Such as this lovely textile:
It is made of a very fine wool, in a deep orange with multicolored stripes.  Presumably Southwestern US or Mexico--but that is a pretty big category of textiles, and one about which I am pretty ignorant.  I love textiles and have a decent background in things like 18th century French silks, but this lovely thing is definitely outside my purview.

Given its narrow width (it measures 21 x 92 inches), I think it is half of a serape, the traditional blanket-like shawl of the Southwest region. The texture is very soft and the weight is very light (similar to Kashmir and French paisley shawls of the 19th century).
This has a paper label basted on one end. Looks old...ish?

So what is this thing?  Early to mid 20th century?  Rio Grande?  If you have any thoughts, please let me know!

© All text and images are copyright of Jeni Sandberg