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Album page with a Sarony portrait
[Sarony Photographic Art Album - Hoffman House]
Internet - Original source ill-defined
PBA Galleries, Sale 553 - Rare Books & Manuscripts with Early Medical Works from the George Bray Collection , 8 February 2020, Lot: 90
23 leaves, each with mounted photographs and advertisements. (Folio) 55x45 cm (21½x17¾") period full brown calf with modern morocco rebacking, stamped in gilt on front. Unique.
This monumental volume was created by the prominent New York photographer, Napoleon Sarony. Each side of the 23 thick board pages contains a matted albumen photograph and four matted advertising cards. Of the photographs, 42 are large portraits of notable actresses. Portraits of Grover Cleveland and his Vice President, a portrait of the celebrated coronet player Liberati, and a photograph of the Owen paper-making establishment (possibly the producer of this album) are also included. Of the 184 advertisements, 91 are photographs, the others are either engraved, lithographed, or chromolithographed. The large photographs measure 11½ x 6¾ inches (292 x 171 mm.), while the advertisements are mostly 8 x 4 inches (203 x 102 mm.) or the reverse. Produced to sit in the lobby or bar of pre-eminent hotels, “art albums” were a kind of concierge service, created to entertain and inform visitors of the businesses and pleasures associated with these exclusive establishments. This album is filled with seductive portraits of the stars of the “Belle Epoque”, including Fannie Davenport, Adelina Patti, Lilly Langtry, Ada Rehan, Lotta Crabtree, Modjeska, Ellen Terry, and Lillian Russell, plus dozens of advertisements for goods and services. All were posed and photographed by the greatest photographer of the American theater, Napoleon Sarony (1821–1896). He established a studio on Broadway in New York in 1866 and for the next thirty years Sarony photographed virtually every actor and actress working on the New York Stage. The Hoffman House was located on Broadway between 24th Street and 25th Street. Built in 1864, it quickly became the informal meeting place for the Democratic Party in New York. Grover Cleveland stopped there frequently, and was living there when he was elected to the Presidency for his second term. General Benjamin Butler and General Winfield Scott made the hotel their home on several occasions, and William Randolph Hearst lived at the Hoffman when he first came to New York City. Edward S. Stokes, who shot financier James Fisk, Jr., became a partner in the hotel, serving as general manager until 1897. The elegant barroom with its shocking painting “Nymphs and Satyrs” by Bougereau, became a major tourist attraction. Due to their large size and small number, hotel “art albums" rarely survived. We have located two others in public institutions. One for the Parker House of Boston is at Brown University, and the other for the Ponce De Leon Hotel of Saint Augustine, Florida is at Jacksonville University.