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HomeContents > People > Photographers > Edwin Hale Lincoln

Dates:  1848, 2 January - 1938
Born:  US, MA, Westminster
Died:  US, MA, Pittsfield
Active:  US
 
  
Noted for his studies of nature, orchids, wild flowers, shipping and yachts, summer cottages and the estates of New England. He never owned a car but walked the countryside bringing home plants that he photographed in a studio in his basement.

Preparing biographies

Approved biography for Edwin Hale Lincoln
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)

 
  
Naturalistic photographer Edwin Hale Lincoln is known for his extensive series of flower images. Between 1904 and 1914, he self-published Wild Flowers of New England, eight volumes (issued both loose and bound) of four hundred original platinum prints.
 
Lincoln was born on January 2, 1848, in Westminster, Massachusetts, the son of a Unitarian minister. At fourteen years of age he served as a drummer boy in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He started his photographic career in 1876, as a salesman and partner in a photographic business in Brockton, Massachusetts. In 1883, he began photographing Berkshire estates for their wealthy owners and wooden yachts sailing at Newport, Rhode Island.
 
Before the turn of the twentieth century, he was involved with both amateur and professional organizations. He joined the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York and in 1885 showed work in the annual exhibition of the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers. His work was included in shows at the annual conventions of the Photographers’ Association of America in 1886 (St. Louis) and 1890 (Washington, D.C.). In 1892, his photographs were seen in the Fifth Annual Joint Exhibition, organized by the leading camera clubs of Boston, New York, and Philadelphia.
 
In 1893, Lincoln moved to Pittsfield, Massachusetts, where he commenced his interest in wildflowers. A sensitive naturalist, he was always careful not to destroy his subjects or their habitat. Though he dug up the flowers he photographed, he lovingly nurtured them while in his care and returned them to their natural setting when done. He preferred working in his home studio, where he used an 8-x-10-inch camera and could more easily control the light. All of his photographs are contact prints made directly from his large-format negatives.
 
To support himself and his family, Lincoln sold his finished portfolios and books largely to institutional collections. From 1902 to 1921, he also worked as the resident caretaker on a wealthy estate in Pittsfield. He may also have garnered fees for reproductions of his work, when they illustrated four 1915 articles in Craftsman, the leading magazine of the Arts and Crafts movement.
 
In 1931, Lincoln issued his last set of photographs, Orchids of the North Eastern United States. Comprised of ninety-seven platinum prints in two volumes, it rendered all the known orchids of the region, printed about life size. At about the same time, he was honored with awards from the Massachusetts Horticultural Society and the American Orchid Society for his devoted work with wildflowers.
 
Late in life, Lincoln was involved with veteran affairs and, reportedly, also still photographed. In 1938, at ninety and in good health, he was struck and killed by an automobile in Pittsfield. 
  
Christian A. Peterson Pictorial Photography at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts (Christian A. Peterson: Privately printed, 2012) 
  
This biography is courtesy and copyright of Christian Peterson and is included here with permission. 
  
Date last updated: 1 June 2013. 
  
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Edwin Hale Lincoln [Attributed to]
Edwin Hale Lincoln with his five grown children. He probably set up the photo and managed to be in it as well. 
n.d.
 
  
Family history 
  
If you are related to this photographer and interested in tracking down your extended family we can place a note here for you to help. It is free and you would be amazed who gets in touch. 
  
alan@luminous-lint.com
 
  
 
  

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Edwin Hale Lincoln
American, 1848-1938

Born in Westminster, Massachusetts, Lincoln went into the photographic business in Brockton in 1876. He pioneered photographing yachts under full sail in Newport, Rhode Island and became one of the first photographers to specialize in documenting large estates. On commission, he photographed the mansions of Newport and Lenox, Massachusetts in their turn-of-the-century splendor. In the 1890s, Lincoln settled in the Berkshires and began an extensive photographic study of New England wild flowers. He published his photographs over a 30 year period in a handmade, small-edition folio of platinum prints called Wild Flowers of New England. Lincoln's wildflower studies were widely used in university botany departments and in schools of fine art. He also made studies of trees, orchids, and landscapes. Lincoln photographed with an 8 x10 view camera and printed primarily on platinum paper.
 
While many photographers of the day were working in the soft focus and painterly mode of Pictorialism, Lincoln's photographs were influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement. His "straight" and direct style continued a long American tradition.
 
[Contributed by Lee Gallery] 
  
 
  
 
  
 
  
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