Old Black and White Photos

Sarah Bernhardt, by Nadar [aka Gaspard Félix Tournachon], ca. 1864. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

Sarah Bernhardt, by Nadar [aka Gaspard Félix Tournachon], ca. 1864. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

This portrait of Sarah Bernhardt is lovely – I’d never seen a close up of her before.

I could spend hours looking at black and white photographs, whether in books, in a gallery, or online. I was really excited when the Getty Trust made their public domain images freely available. Their collection includes photographs, objects, texts, paintings and much more. Here is their press release and their search gateway.

Rue Hotel de Ville

Rue de l’Hôtel-de-Ville by Eugène Atget, 1921. Albumen silver print. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

I like Atget’s photographs of Paris; they capture the essence of old Paris. I can just imagine walking up this street to see what’s beyond the turn.

Bouquiniste

Bouquiniste at Place de la Bastille, Eugène Atget, 1910 – 1911. Albumen silver print.Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

I don’t really read French but there’s always the possibility of a picture book or a cookbook – I can muddle through those.

cappucins

Chamber in Cappuccini catacombs in Rome by Bert Underwood, ca. 1900. Stereograph. Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

I’m fascinated by old stereographs and bone chapels – this combines the two. I’ve seen this bone chapel but it’s changed since this photo was taken.

Ellen Terry photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1864.

Ellen Terry at Age 16, photo by Julia Margaret Cameron, 1864.Digital image courtesy of the Getty’s Open Content Program.

I really like this portrait, and it’s very timeless.

What are your favorite sources for freely accessible images?

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A Walk Through Paris

As always on vacation, my sweetie and I visit cemeteries just as often as we visit museums or art galleries. The spaces in which a society’s dead are honored or buried or entombed are interesting looks into their culture. The photos below were taken at cemeteries in Paris.

Paul-Henri Gourdot

Paul-Henri Gourdot. Columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Leonard Merlot

Leonard Merlot. Columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Guiseppe Scigliano

Giuseppe Scigliano. Columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Rene Mougeot

Rene Mougeot. Died for France. Columbarium at Père Lachaise Cemetery

Madame Andreé Guiot neé Marceline Féré

Madame Andreé Guiot neé Marceline Féré. Père Lachaise Cemetery

Sad

Dikerman-Gelber family, died (exterminated) in Auschwitz-Birkenau. There are far too many of these memorials, sadly.

Untitled

Paris 2013

Ernest Jumin, President of La Confederation de la Charcuterie de France. Père Lachaise Cemetery.

Regrets (Père Lachaise cemetery, Paris) ©2013 Todd Mecklem

Background Story

I’ve been experimenting with taking photographs of old objects with different kinds of backgrounds to see if they help highlight the objects or distract from it. My favorite is the gold and black purse with a black and white advertisement for Byrrh.

Art Deco mesh bag

I like this combination of a black and white advert from a 1930s magazine and the Art Deco purse.

Untitled

I used a random page from on old magazine for the background of the compact and powder puff.

Art Deco dress clip

The plain white background works fine.

Art Deco dress clip

I think this is pretty with the purple scarf background but if I were selling the piece, maybe I’d stick with the plain white background.

Rhinestone bracelet

It was sunny and just too bright outside; not sure if I like this background.

French steel cut shoe buckles

The black textured background just looks bad though I think a matte black background would show off the steel cut beads nicely.

Art deco blue glass sautoir

I like how the blue glass shows up but I might try it with grey for more contrast.

Visions of Hong Kong

It’s cold and rainy here in Portland today so I’m daydreaming of somewhere warm, like Hong Kong. The first day of spring feels very winter like.

Hong Kong is a great place to take photographs because there are so many visually interesting things to look at. My husband, Todd Mecklem, took these shots during our recent visit. Enjoy your virtual visit!

Sea glass. © Todd Mecklem

Sea glass. ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong harbor.  ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong harbor. © Todd Mecklem

Detail of rope on ferry.  © Todd Mecklem

Detail of rope on ferry. ©Todd Mecklem

Dried shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Dried shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Woman drying shrimp.  © Todd Mecklem

Woman drying shrimp. ©Todd Mecklem

Fish being cooked night market.  © Todd Mecklem

Fish being cooked in the night market. ©Todd Mecklem

Large grains of sand.  © Todd Mecklem

Large grains of sand. ©Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong skyline.  © Todd Mecklem

Hong Kong skyline. © Todd Mecklem

Europeana

Europeana is an amazing collection of images, videos and texts from various European libraries, museums and other entities. The websites’ tagline is “Explore Europe’s Cultural Collections” and it encompasses a wide range of materials organized by subject, date, country, and provider. When you click on a preview of an item, it links back to the entity that owns it; some are free access but some images must be purchased. I like that you can narrow your search to include only copyright free resources.

Some images that struck my fancy are below.

Josephine Baker met hoge hoed in herenkostuum (rokkostuum). 1933. National Library of the Netherlands.

Josephine Baker met hoge hoed in herenkostuum (rokkostuum). 1933. National Library of the Netherlands.

Catherine Deneuve. Les heures de gloire du Studio Harcourt ; Théâtre et cinéma, 1960.

Catherine Deneuve.  Les heures de gloire du Studio Harcourt ; Théâtre et cinéma, 1960.

Shooting for the film "Sunflower" (I Girasoli) in Moscow, 1969. TASS.  Collectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO)

Shooting for the film “Sunflower” (I Girasoli) in Moscow, 1969. TASS. Collectie Algemeen Nederlands Fotopersbureau (ANEFO)

Balenciaga veste de panthère sur robe longue noire. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN

Balenciaga veste de panthère sur robe longue noire. Donation François Kollar Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine) diffusion RMN

Portrait de Matha Novelly avec un collier de perles en sautoir. Donation Roger Corbeau, Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l'architecture et du patrimoine) Diffusion RMN

Portrait de Matha Novelly avec un collier de perles en sautoir. Donation Roger Corbeau, Ministère de la culture (Médiathèque de l’architecture et du patrimoine)

Photographer Émile Savitry

Émile Savitry is a relatively unknown photographer whose art has recently been brought to light by Sophie Malexis, the executor of his estate. Savitry was born in Saigon to a wealthy family (DuPont) and moved to Paris as a young man; his first exhibition was in 1929. He documented the jazz age of Paris and the cafe life of Montparnasse, as well as the exodus of refugees from the Spanish Civil War. He also worked as a fashion photographer for Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue, and took still photos on movie sets. He died in 1967; his wife, Elsa Enriquez, died in 2010.

Sophie Malexis has organzied Savitry’s work and recently curated exhibits in Spain and France. She’s also created a website and published a catalog of his work.

Scène de genre à Montparnasse (Sur les quais...), 1939. © Philippe Migeat - Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI (diffusion RMN).

Scène de genre à Montparnasse (Sur les quais…), 1939. © Philippe Migeat – Centre Pompidou, MNAM-CCI (diffusion RMN).

Anouk Aimee et son chat sur le tournage de La Fleur de l'Âge", Belle-Ile,1947. Photo from ArtnetGalleries.

Anouk Aimee et son chat sur le tournage de La Fleur de l’Âge”, Belle-Ile,1947. Photo from ArtnetGalleries. © Émile Savitry courtesy Sophie Malexis

"Couteau surréaliste", Paris, 1947-1949. Photo courtesy Savitry Estate/Sophie Malexis.

“Couteau surréaliste”, Paris, 1947-1949. © Émile Savitry courtesy Sophie Malexis

References:

Sophie Malexis’ biography of Mr. Savitry
Le journal de la photographie 
MediaPart’s Re-discovering the Lost Work of Emile Savitry