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Frank Eugene, Alfred Stieglitz, Heinrich Kuhn and Edward Steichen admiring the work of Eugene, 1907
Platinum process / platinotype
National Science and Media Museum
The Royal Photographic Society Collection, Inventory no: 2003-5001/2/21641
Elements of Frank Eugene's (1865 - 1936) work can be seen in this 1907 platinum print. Attention is focused on the four Pictorialist photographers at the table; Eugene himself, Alfred Stieglitz (1864 - 1946), Heinrich Kühn (1866 - 1944) and Edward Steichen (1879 - 1973), all intently studying a selection of Eugene's work. In contrast with the sharpness of the four men the background is indistinct. Eugene often used an etching needle on his negatives to produce the graphic effects he desired, creating a hybrid between photograph and etching.
Born in America, Eugene spent much of his working life in Germany, moving there in 1906. Trained initially as an artist he latter took up photography and in about 1913 was appointed Professor of Pictorial Photography at the Royal Academy of Graphic Arts in Leipzig. This specially created post was the first academic recognition of art photography in the world. Eugene had joined the Linked Ring Brotherhood in 1900 and was also a member of the first Council of the Photo-Secession in 1902. He left the Ring in 1909 as a result of the Salon des Refuses. Eugene had an issue of Camera Notes devoted to him.
Alfred Stieglitz (1864 - 1946) was an American photographer who is also known for promoting art through his art galleries. He ran the Photochrome Engraving Company when he was young and wrote regularly during the same period for The American Amateur Photographer magazine. Stieglitz won awards at Boston Camera Club, Photographic Society of Philadelphia and the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York. In 1893 he became co-editor of The American Amateur Photographer. In 1897 he became vice-president of the Camera Club of New York. He exhibited his work in the US and Europe.
For an analysis of this photograph: Juliet Hacking (ed.), 2012, Photography: The Whole Story, (Prestel), pp. 174-175