Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Cartomania

College Hall, Smith College

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Smith College, College Hall, from West Street. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-40

Cartes-de-visite were a revolutionary form of photography – while earlier methods were expensive or clunky, cartes were small and mounted on card paper, which made them easy to handle. Available for pennies, cartes-de-visite are sometimes called “album photographs,” as many collected the prints in specially-designated albums. By the 1860s, “cartomania” had set in, and between 1861 and 1867 over 300 million cartes were sold every year in England. Pictures of celebrities, soaring vistas, and family portraits were all hugely popular. Cartes-de-visite offered most people their first opportunity to own photographs at all.

Early photography was an involved process that went beyond shooting the picture - the profession demanded a familiarity with the chemicals and techniques needed to sensitize the glass negatives and paper, develop images and tone the final prints. A. J. Schillare was a local artist who owned a studio on Main Street, Northampton, during the 1870s. Advertisements in local yearbooks reveal that he took studio shots of local college students, likely a major source of business, but he also produced many photographs of the landscape and scenery around him. In the Cunningham Center, we own many of his cartes devoted to Smith College, and the surrounding Northampton. Can you recognize any of these places today?

Interior of the Art Building

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Smith College, Art Building, Interior. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-33

Dewey House

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Dewey House, with lawn, Smith College. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-37

Paradise Pond

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Paradise, Northampton. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-7

The Parlor of Hubbard House

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Hubbard House, Smith College, Parlor toward Main Hall. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-18

Greenhouse at Capen House

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Capen House, Greenhouse, Interior. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-21

The Northampton Courthouse

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Northampton, Court House and First Church. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-43

Snow bank on Elm Street

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Snow bank front of Mansion House, Northampton. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-11

Main Street in Northampton, looking towards Elm Street

A.J. Schillare, American, 1856 - 1917. Northampton, Main Street looking toward Elm Street. Toned gelatin silver print mounted on paperboard as a carte de visite. Gift of Martin Stein. Photography by Petegorsky/Gipe. SC 2010:4-13

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