|Born: Felix Benedict Herzog |
|Dates: ||1860 - 1912, 21 April|
|Born: ||US, NY, New York City|
|Died: ||US, NY, New York City|
His work was included in Camera Work in 1905 and in 1907.
Approved biography for F. Benedict Herzog
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
Felix Benedict Herzog was born in New York and graduated from Columbia University in 1881. He initially wrote articles on railroad transportation, but also pursued numerous other lines of work in New York. He was a patent attorney, civil engineer, and inventor, in the latter guise developing electrical devices, telephone accessories, and switchboard improvements. By about 1900, he was the president of his own Herzog Teleseme Company, which manufactured a contraption with a circular chart that allowed hotel guests to order goods and services, before telephones were common in rooms.
Herzog joined the Camera Club of New York and in 1908 served on its safety committee. He also joined New York’s National Arts Club and, for many years, served as a judge for the annual competitions of the monthly magazine Photo Era. Alfred Stieglitz included five photogravures by Herzog in Camera Work, in the October 1905 and January 1907 issues.
Herzog produced some typical pictorial figures studies, in which women were tastefully posed and lit. However, his most distinctive pictures were elaborate allegorical compositions that the editors of Camera Work declared the "sensations of the year" in 1907. Like the early high-art photographers Oscar G. Rejlander and Henry Peach Robinson, Herzog crafted his images from multiple negatives and prints, printing and pasting them together into overwrought compositions that relied heavily on the example of academic painting. His decorative, frieze-like images were carefully planned, patiently executed, and printed in large scale, up to fourteen by twenty inches.
Herzog exhibited his work for only about five years, beginning around 1905. It was seen in at least three of the Camera Club of New York’s members’ shows, and at exhibitions in Vienna and Dresden. He exhibited in the 1905 Lewis and Clark Exposition, in Portland, Oregon, and a 1907 exhibition in Montreal arranged by the Photo-Club of Canada. In 1909, Stieglitz featured his work in the International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography, hung at New York’s National Arts Club. When a print of Herzog’s Tale of Isolde appeared in the 1905 London salon, he priced it at the astounding sum of five hundred dollars, while Stieglitz’s prices were in the $25-40 range.
Due to their flamboyance, Herzog’s photographs drew much attention. They were reproduced in the English annual Photograms of the Year in 1905, 1906, and 1907. No less than three articles were written about him in 1907, beginning in January, when the art critic Charles H. Caffin titled a piece in Camera Work, "Is Herzog Also among the Prophets?" Contrary to Stieglitz’s opinion, Caffin thought not, calling him out of touch with contemporary creative thought and his work retrograde. Sadakichi Hartmann, the other major critic who essayed photography, however, felt otherwise, giving him a glowing report in the December 1907 issue of Wilson’s Photographic Magazine and calling him a "master of decorative composition." The other profile on Herzog appeared in Century Magazine, a popular monthly, in May 1907. Five years later, F. Benedict Herzog died in New York’s Roosevelt Hospital, on April 21, 1912.
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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