Luxurious Bespoke Photograph Album Made for a Victorian Gentleman Traveler
Western United States (Colorado, Utah, Yellowstone, Hawaii) and Canada
Albumen photographs by William Henry Jackson, C. R. Savage, and others
A sumptuous 19th century photograph album, made for Russell J. Colman (1861-1946), the British "Mustard King," as a memento of his travels in America as a young man. The album contains fine original albumen photographs by important western photographers William Henry Jackson and C. R. Savage, both noted for the technical and aesthetic qualities of their images of the western United States. Also included in the album are several wonderful early views of Honolulu, including street views, King Kalākaua and Queen consort Kapi'olani standing with others in front of 'Iolani Palace, and a fine panoramic view of the coast showing the town. Other photographs in the volume, attributed to Henderson, show sites in Canada, mainly in Montreal. Finally there are several dramatic views of a frozen Niagara Falls, at least one of which has been attributed to American photographer George Barker (1844-1894).
The western photographs by Jackson and Savage contained in the album appear to date from the 1870s through the early 1880s. The scenes along the route of the Denver and Rio Grande Rail Road would seem to be from Jackson's time as company photographer for that line (1881). At this time a publication appeared illustrated with photographs by Jackson: A Souvenir of the Beautiful Rio Grande... Masterworks of the World's Greatest Photographic Artist, W. H. Jackson. Some of the other photographs appear to be related to work by Jackson on the famous Hayden Geographical Survey of 1871, which explored the region of Wyoming that became Yellowstone National Park in 1872. One authority described the Hayden Survey as a chance for Jackson to photograph a region where "geological sublimity outdid artistic sublimity":
With Jackson's photograph[s].... scientific description is subverted to two other motives: art and propaganda. As an artistic object meant to delight the viewer it is an excellent work. As propaganda, too, it is remarkably successful - Peter B. Hales, William Henry Jackson and the Transformation of the American Landscape (1988), page 106.
Indeed, the images in the album as whole can be seen as evidence for the idea of photography as a kind of propaganda: on the one hand for depicting the grandeur and power of nature in the American west, and on the other as a tool for humanity's still unfolding efforts to control nature (such as in the views made by Jackson for the railroad companies and government commissioned projects like the Hayden Survey). This idea of art as propaganda extends to the desire of well-heeled tourists such as Russell Colman to preserve "an art object meant to delight the viewer," in the form of the present very substantial and beautifully conceived photo album.
While only three of the photographs are identified in the captions as by Jackson (i.e. W. H. Jackson & Co.), several other images in the album are also almost certainly by Jackson, especially the series showing the huge sandstone spires of the Garden of the Gods. Nine photographs are identified in the captions as by C. R. Savage.
William Henry Jackson (1843-1942)
Jackson had a fascinating and long career that included Civil War service, exploration in the west and other adventures, but he is most remembered for his famous photographs of the American west. Jackson worked as a photographer for the Union Pacific Railroad, documenting the scenery along the route. He also worked as a photographer on the Geological Survey under Ferdinand Hayden (Hayden Survey), where his photographs were instrumental in convincing Congress to establish the first national park at Yellowstone.
Charles Roscoe Savage (1832-1909)
C. R. Savage was a prolific pioneer photographer of the American west, especially notable for his views in Utah and Wyoming. An early convert to Mormonism, Savage's active work in the Mormon Church, along with his high standards of photographic professionalism, assured him of steady work and a wide clientele that included Brigham Young. During a trip to San Francisco Savage befriended fellow photographer Carleton Watkins, who shared some techniques with him about processing mammoth plate negatives. Savage also forged a friendship with noted photographer Andrew J. Russell, of the Union Pacific Railroad. Savage was one of the photographers invited to record the "last spike" ceremony held at Promontory, Utah in 1869, marking the joining of the Central and Union Pacific Railroads.
In the late 1870s Savage traveled extensively over a number of western railroads with the benefit of free passes, often in the company of artist friends. - Palmquist and Kailbourn.
Based on this thoughtful collection of American photographs, Russell Colman was clearly an enthusiast of photography, though it is unlikely that he actually made any of these images with his own camera. Colman was known to be a collector of paintings, which suggests that the visual held a special attraction or him. His collection of hundreds of oil paintings, watercolors and drawings was presented to the city of Norwich upon his death in 1946. Certainly the present album provides fascinating insight into the subjects that attracted a young Victorian gentleman's eye during his travels abroad in the United States and Canada. The expansive views of American natural phenomena such as magnificent waterfalls, geysers and massive geological formations, presumably never before encountered at home, predominate herein. To say nothing of the exotic appeal (to a wealthy Briton in the 1880s) of subjects such as Hawaiian royalty and Mormon tabernacles.
A complete list of the photographs here follows:
1. 8. Victoria Sqre. [Montreal]. Henderson. 8 x 6 inches.
2. Victoria Square. [Montreal]. 525. Henderson. 8 x 6 inches.
3. 20. Ice Shove. City Hall [Montreal]. Henderson. 8 x 6 inhces.
4. 100. Victoria Bridge. [Montreal]. Henderson. 7 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.
5. 41. Mount Royal Park. [Montreal]. Henderson. 8 x 6 inches
6. [Winter scene in Mount Royal Park, Montreal]. 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
7. [Niagara Falls]. Print somewhat faded. 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches.
8. [Niagara Falls] 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches
9. [American Falls, Niagara Falls]. 7 1/2 x 9 1/2 inches. This image has been attributed to George Barker.
10. [Snow covered mountain, falls in the distance, several people in the scene]. 9 1/2 x 7 1/2 inches.
11. [Frozen falls scene, one man standing in the foreground, several figures above the falls in the distance]. 9 1/2 x 7 inches.
12. [Bird's-eye view of Manitou, Colorado, mountains in the background, likely by W. H. Jackson]. 10 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches.
13. 3003. Pike's Peak from Briarhurst Manitou. W. H. Jackson & Co. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
14. 610. Pike's Peak. Gateway, Garden of the Gods. 6 1/2 x 4 inches.
15. 425. Pike's Peak Trail. Timber Line. 6 1/2 x 4 inches.
16. 421. U.S. Signal Station on Pike's Peak. 6 1/2 x 4 inches.
17. 3006. Ute Pass. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
18. Gateway to the Garden of the Gods, Col. 11 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches.
19. The Siamese Twins, Monument Park, D & R. G. R. R., Col. 11 x 9 inches.
20. Cathedral Spires. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
21. 611. Garden of the Gods. 6 1/2 x 4 inches.
22. [Rock spire in western landscape] 4 x 6 inches.
23. [Falls on rocky mountain side] 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
24. 3004. Cheyenne Falls. W. H. J. & Co. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
25. 2005. Middle Cascade, Cheyenne Falls. W. H. J. & Co. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches. Print somewhat faded.
26. [Mountain]. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
27. 3038. Phantom Curve, D. & R. G. R. R. William H. Jackson & Co. Denver. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
28. 3032. The Royal Gorge. W. H. Jackson & Co. Denver. 6 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
29. Grand Canon of the Arkansas D. & R. G. R. R. Col. C. R. Savage Photo. 8 1/2 x 10 1/2 inches.
30. D & R. G. R. R. Hanging Bridge, Royal Gorge, Grand Canon of the Arkansas. C. R. Savage Photo. 11 x 9 inches.
31. [labeled 31B in pencil on album card mount] Summit of Marshall Pass. D. & R. G. Ry. Col. C. R. Savage, Photo. 11 x 9 inches.
32. [labeled 31A] View from Marshall Pass, 10,857 feet above the sea. D & R. G. R. R. 7 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches.
33. [labeled 32] 005. The Sangre de Cristo from Marshall Pass. 6 1/2 x 4 inches.
34. [labeled 33] [Railroad through western country, likely Utah] Unsigned, but possibly C. R. Savage. 11 x 9 inches.
35. [labeled 34] North Portal Castle Gate Price Canon. Utah. D. & R. G. R. R. C. R. Savage. Salt Lake. 11 x 8 1/2 inches.
36. [labeled 35] Temple Block, Salt Lake City. C. R. Savage, Photo.11 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches.
37. [labeled 36] Interior of Mormon Tabernacle Will seat 8000 persons. C. R. Savage, Photo. 11 x 8 1/2 inches.
38. [labeled 37] Black Rock, Great Salt Lake. C. R. Savage, Photo. 10 1/2 x 8 1/2 inches.
39. [labeled 38] Garfield Landing, Salt Lake. C. R. Savage, Photo. 7 x 4 1/2 inches.
40. [labeled 39] [Western landscape scene, river or lake, snow-capped mountains in the distance] 8 1/2 x 6 inches.
41. [labeled 40] Hell's Half Acre, Prismatic Spring [Yellowstone] 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches. Unsigned but by Frank Jay Haynes.
42. [labeled 41] Grotto Geyser Cone. 8 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches.
43. [labeled 42] Castle Geyser Cone. 8 1/2 x 7 inches.
44. [labeled 43] Giant Geyser Cone. 8 1/2 x 7 inches.
45. [labeled 44] Old Faithful Geyser in Action. 7 x 9 inches.
46. [labeled 45] Wall Canyon or Basaltio Cliff. 7 x 9 inches.
47. [labeled 46] Great Falls of the Yellowstone, 360 feet. 8 3/4 x 6 3/4 inches.
48. [labeled 47] [Dramatic view of falls in Yellowstone] 7 x 9 inches.
49. [labeled 48] Minerva Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs. [Yellowstone]. 8 1/2 x 7 inches.
50. [labeled 49] Pulpit Terrace, Mammoth Hot Springs. [Yellowstone] 8 1/2 x 7 inches.
51. [labeled 50] Liberty Cap, National Hotel and Valley. 8 1/2 x 7 inches.
52. [labeled 51] [View of Honolulu, showing buildings, anchored sailing ships]. 9 x 6 1/2 inches.
53. [labeled 52] [Honolulu townscape view] 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches.
54. [labeled 53] [Statue of King Kamehameha I in front of Ali'Iolani Hale, Honolulu] 6 3/4 x 9 inches.
55. [labeled 54] [King Kalākaua and Queen consort Kapi'olani standing with others in front of 'Iolani Palace, Honolulu, apparently the only Royal Palace on United States soil] 9 1/2 x 6 1/2 inches. This image can be roughly dated to the period between 1883 and 1887: the location of the bandstand definitely dates the image after march of 1883, while the lights on the wall of of lanai suggest a pre-1887 date (i.e. before electrical lights were installed in 1887). As an aside, the image has been misattributed to John Lawson Stoddard, a wealthy celebrity who specialized in illustrated lectures describing his world travels. Stoddard's multi-volume lecture collection publication was even mentioned as being in Jay Gatsby's library in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby. The present image was published in one of Stoddard's books: Portfolio of Photographs, of Famous Scenes, Cities and Paintings by John L Stoddard (Chicago: the Werner Company, 1899). Historians of photography usually point out that Stoddard knew little about photography, opting to hire and direct professional photographers for the images he required.
56. [labeled 55] [Garden scene in Honolulu]. 9 x 6 inches.
57. [labeled 56] [Hawaiians and others standing in front of palace building, possibly Washington Place, Honolulu] 9 x 6 1/2 inches.
58. [labeled 57] [Group of students and teachers standing in lush garden, Hawaii]. 9 x 7 inches.
59. [labeled 58] [Unpaved street in Honolulu, with telegraph poles, picket fences lining the road]. 9 x 6 1/2 inches.
60. [labeled 59] [Steetview of house in Hawaii, palm trees and picket fence] 9 x 6 1/4 inches.
Russel Colman (1861-1946), scion of the Colman Mustard family;
Thence to the estate of his grandson.