|Dates: ||1856 - 1944, 29 August|
|Born: ||US, DC, Washington|
|Died: ||US, NY, Rochester|
Approved biography for John E. Dumont
(Courtesy of Christian Peterson)
Possibly born in Washington, D.C, Dumont was living in New York in 1880, when the United States census listed him as a clerk in a sugar refinery. In 1881, he relocated upstate to Rochester, where he was a food broker for the rest of his life, specializing in coffee, tea, and sugar.
John Eignace Dumont created naturalistic photographs more in the vein of Englishman Henry Peach Robinson than Peter Henry Emerson. He became known for his genre scenes, largely picturing rural folk in situ and figures staged in his studio. In 1888, the Philadelphia Photographer noted that some of his admirers had dubbed him the "H. P. Robinson of America."
Dumont took up amateur photography in 1884 and by the next year won his first prize, for work in an exhibition at the Society of Amateur Photographers of New York. Other 1885 shows that included his work were the annual of the Boston Society of Amateur Photographers and the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition in New Orleans. One of his most important showings came in 1891, at the seminal Ausstellung Künstlerischer Photographien in Vienna, for which he provided more pictures than any other American. The same year, he was part of a two-person show at the New York Camera Club with none other than Henry Peach Robinson.
Dumont continued to exhibit and win awards until about 1903. His photographs were seen in the Washington salon in 1896, the Philadelphia salons in 1898 and 1901, and most of the Joint Exhibitions (1887-1894), run by the leading camera clubs in Boston, New York, and Philadelphia. In October 1895, the Commercial Travelers’ Home Magazine ran a lead article on Dumont, titled "Art in Photography," in which it listed the many prizes he had taken to date. They included cups, medals, plaques, and diplomas from groups in Boston, Calcutta (India), Cardiff (Wales), Hamburg, London, Madras (India), New York, Paris, Philadelphia, and Vienna. Dumont’s last known exhibition appearances were at the 1902 Turin Decorative and Fine Arts Exhibition, and the first exhibition of the Rochester Camera Club, in 1903.
In April 1899, the Camera Club of New York honored Dumont with a one-person exhibition of thirty-four of his prints. The concurrent issue of Camera Notes, the club’s quarterly edited by Alfred Stieglitz, featured one of his images as a photogravure. Titled The Clarionet Player, it became one of his most popular pictures, being frequently reproduced elsewhere, such as in Sadakichi Hartmann’s 1910 book, Landscape and Figure Composition. Stieglitz also included gravures by Dumont in the two American Pictorial Photography portfolios he published for the club in 1899 and 1901.
Dumont wrote a few short articles on technique for the American Annual of Photography in 1887 and 1888, but his images appeared more often in the annual, mostly around the turn of the century (though one as late as 1916). Other periodicals that reproduced his work included American Amateur Photographer (1892 and 1893), Photographic Times (1887-89, 1893, 1987, 1902, and 1910), and Light and Shade (1890, 1893, and 1899).
Dumont was active in local organizations, such as the Rochester Society of Arts and Crafts. In 1897, he helped found that group, along with Harvey Ellis, who created Dumont’s bookplate and who went on to become an important designer for Gustav Stickely’s mission furniture. Dumont undoubtedly was instrumental in organizing the society’s exhibition of pictorial photographs, hung in its first year. He was also a prominent member of the Rochester Camera Club, where he served as it first president (1902-03), as an exhibition judge, and on its lantern slide committee. In 1915, he lent an item to a show of Oriental rugs at Rochester’s Memorial Art Gallery. John E. Dumont died in a Rochester hospital on August 29, 1944.
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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