Nineteenth-Century Landscape Photographers in the Americas: Artists, Journeymen or Entrepreneurs?

Timothy O'Sullivan (American, 1840–1882), <em>Canon de Chelle, Walls of the Grand Canyon about 1200 feet in height</em>, 1873, albumen silver print on board. Acquired with funds provided by the Humana Foundation Endowment for American Art, 1994.003.001.

Timothy O'Sullivan (American, 1840–1882), Canon de Chelle, Walls of the Grand Canyon about 1200 feet in height, 1873, albumen silver print on board. Acquired with funds provided by the Humana Foundation Endowment for American Art, 1994.003.001.

SNITE Museum of Art February 13–March 27, 2011

From the frozen waters of Niagara Falls to the sultry jungles of Brazil, photographers of the nineteenth century in the Americas focused their lenses on the landscapes around them, capturing a still frame of breathtaking views of nature or sweeping cityscapes of a budding metropolis. But what caused these photographers to break away from the daguerreotypists and their portrait studios and to take an interest in these landscapes? Did they consider themselves explorers, artists, scientists or businessmen? And who commissioned the expeditions that allowed these men to explore the forests, valleys, mountains, rivers, deserts, and jungles of North and South America?

This exhibition explored these questions by presenting a range of nineteenth-century landscape photographs from across the Americas and looking more closely at the men who created them. On display were works by Americans George Barker, F.J. Haynes, George Barnard, Timothy O’Sullivan, and W.H. Jackson; Europeans Eadweard Muybridge and Jean Chaffonjon; as well as several by Brazilian Marc Ferrez. The photographs these men created are not only awe-inspiring and technically superior; they also give twenty-first century viewers a glimpse into the nineteenth-century point-of-view, philosophies of nature, and the building of new civilizations in the Americas.

The guest curators of this exhibition are students of Micheline Celestine Nilsen, assistant professor of art history, Ernestine M. Raclin School of the Arts, Indiana University South Bend. Many of the images selected by the students are from the Janos Scholz Collection of 19th-Century European Photographs.

View a PDF of the exhibition cataolg part 1 or part 2.