William Carrick and Irving Penn - Kindred Souls

No one who sees William Carrick’s photographs of “Russian Types”, who also knows Irving Penn’s “Small Trades”, can miss the uncanny resemblance. Appearances lead us to ask the obvious historical question:  whether Penn knew the work of Carrick and was thus inspired in his own portraits. As an admirer of Penn I felt I had to know.  In fact he did not, as I eventually confirmed, but he did learn about him much later.  I reveal this here at the beginning only so as not to be a tease.  

However, just so that the reader can appreciate my beginner’s mind, let’s pretend that I haven’t spoiled the surprise, and go back to when I was in that slightly beatified state, curiosity (which is partly what I want to share), and let me spill the remaining beans later.  (I don’t mind that it also makes the job of rewriting the article a bit easier.  I wrote and posted this blog entry early in 2015; the rewrite, with my new information, is of late April.)  So just follow my thinking as I got involved in this question: 

When I consider all the people Penn knew and met in his long career, I can scarcely believe that not a single one knew of Carrick’s work and told him about it.  Surely he met many editors, curators, and scholars who were knowledgeable enough about the history of photography to have possibly heard of Carrick, and I can’t imagine such a person not informing Penn. 

If Penn knew Carrick’s work prior to his own project, it would be truly remarkable.  But this seems highly improbable, given Penn’s age at that time, and Carrick’s relative obscurity.  Even if Penn had known, it would of course detract nothing from his achievement (as if to borrow Carrick’s approach would be to plagiarize him somehow).  But Penn never mentions Carrick in his own brief comments in his books, and I think it unlikely that Penn would have concealed such an influence. I worked for him for a time as one of his assistants.  I can’t say I knew him really well, but my impression of his character is that he would never have been secretive about such a thing. 

Just imagine that Penn, in some discussion with a friend or associate, had spoken about his Small Trades photographs along these lines:  “Back then I came across some old portraits by this Scottish photographer who worked in St. Petersburg in the 1860s.  He brought peddlers and ordinary people of all kinds into his studio with all their gear or baskets of food or whatever, and posed them against a plain background.  The pictures were marvelous.  It seemed like a great way to record the “vanishing species” of the big cities, people I saw every day, involved in occupations that in just a few decades might no longer exist.  It also seemed like something I could do well.” 

But I find no trace of any such comment, and it’s really not so surprising.  After all, Penn was just 33 when he did the Small Trades photographs, and as sophisticated as he was, he most likely would never have come across Carrick, who was admittedly not a major figure of 19th-century photography.  (For my part, I only learned of Carrick at the age of sixty or so, even though I have studied – to some extent – photography and its history for some forty years.  But then again, I don’t get around like Penn did.) 

So the far more likely hypothesis is than Penn knew nothing of Carrick, and yet chanced upon a procedure and an approach that yielded similar results.  But then, the historical question becomes immediately the follow-up implied above – how could it be that no one ever asked Penn subsequently if he’d ever seen Carrick’s old photographs?  Did they think it might have been embarrassing?  I should think, rather, that Penn would have been delighted and amazed.  In the Small Trades photographs, he seems almost to be channeling Carrick.  Artists feel what they do as carrying on an ancient tradition.  It is gratifying to see that someone else, in another age, had the same ideas as you have; it seems to certify the authenticity of what you are doing. 

I suppose that if Penn, after the Small Trades images, had chanced upon any of Carrick’s photographs of tradespeople (apart from the most generic, in which there isn’t that much care taken with the pose), he would have opened his eyes wide.  Artists are highly sensitive to the work of other artists that is very similar to their own, for reasons of aesthetic sensibility of course, but also at times, I think, as part of some kind of territorial instinct.  Penn was certainly above pettiness of that sort, and I believe he would only have enjoyed the company of a kindred soul from another century.   

I’ve never heard the matter mentioned, but an abler historian than I am should look into it for what it’s worth.  A brief online research for Penn and Carrick yields nothing to the point, mostly auction results for one or the other.  Considering all that has been written about Penn (and admitting that I’m not the ablest researcher), I’d be surprised if there were a well-known text that did not come up.  The single mention I’ve found of the two names together in a text only makes the point that both men “brought the street into the studio” to document it.  (This blog, which offers several good examples of the photos of Carrick and Penn, gives Penn’s birth year as 1943, while 1917 is correct.  In fact, its very next paragraph mentions Penn’s Small Trades project of 1950-51 – when he would have been seven years old.  Such a wunderkind! (Look up Silver Moth Art.) 

The question that remains is one of style: how is it that such similar results were obtained by chance by two different individuals, some 80 or 90 years apart?  Photographic style tends to be impersonal, due to the mechanical nature of the process.  Both men’s means were about as simple as can be:  a studio with a neutral background, light, and studio camera.  What imparts to the result something above and beyond the merely documentary, however, is a little harder to define. In the cases of Carrick and Penn, their ingenuity in choosing, arranging, and posing their subjects was most conspicuous.  We sense a careful attention to composition, with carefully balanced asymmetries. 

Since Carrick’s work is not nearly as well-known as Penn’s, I’ll mention first his “Abacus Seller”, one of his best.  The oddly-tilted rectangles of the abacuses and the boy’s immense peddler’s case, the angle taken by his long-booted legs that jut out from underneath, even the curved line where background meets floor, can’t help but suggest Penn’s Small Trades.  Compare it to Penn’s “Vitrier, Paris, 1950”, above, where the rack of panes of glass (that almost conceals the man) dominates the picture, forming an abstract geometrical composition in itself (while suggesting a painter’s easel), all supported in almost surreal fashion by a pair of splayed legs in baggy trousers.  (Penn’s sense of composition was admittedly superior - he tended to emphasize these asymmetries - but Carrick was often very good at this in his own right.) 

Other than composition we have illumination.  In Carrick’s day a photographer’s studio had to have a strong but indirect skylight to allow reasonably short exposure times.  By Penn’s time, flash units had come into use in the studio, but Penn dreamed of going back to an old-fashioned studio with its classic north light.  (In his introduction to Worlds in a Small Room, Penn wrote: “It is a light of such penetrating clarity that even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow, almost a voluptuousness.”  Thus he contrived a situation much like the norm of a century before, and recreated it for many of his projects. 

There is also the formality of both photographers, a peculiar combination of naturalism with artifice, and the rusticity or rough plainness of those who pose for the camera.  The effect, however, is a little different in one as compared to the other:  Carrick is sometimes almost stagy, especially when he poses two figures in conversation, while Penn’s poses, for all their precision, are more natural.  Still, in the work of both photographers, one easily detects as well a quality of timelessness or of being out of time, although it’s a bit fishy or imprecise to say so, as this is a common experience when we look at images from another time and place.

So – if these reflections are of interest to someone out there, they will have been worth my effort. Anyone with something to add to the subject is welcome to write me.  Other than that, this article is an occasion to show some of the works of William Carrick, with a few comparison photographs by Irving Penn. 

The remaining photographs are grouped in fours, and are shown whole as cartes de visite.  (Note that the four images already shown above, separately, are probably slightly cropped from that usual format.)  The first group shows a boy selling baskets, another boy selling toy wheelbarrows, a man selling pots and pans, and a man selling shoes.  (The pot-and-pan man is by A. Lorens, and the other three by J. Monstein, even though the shoe man doesn’t have Monstein’s usual stamp – none by Carrick.)  The shoe man suggests a Christmas tree with his merchandise draped down his back and chest.  The shoes themselves are remarkable – though handcrafted, they look extremely modern and sporty, not at all what you’d imagine for 1860.  In the photo of the boy with the toy wheelbarrows, I sense an irony in the fact that children were given (and presumably wanted) toys that let them imitate the adults in the world of work, people who had a hard life indeed. 

The second group, all by William Carrick, begins with a butcher, lightly hand-colored. I look at his beard and hairstyle – especially the locks that stick out from over his ears, which suggest to me a very disturbing stereotype of a Jew:  but was this hairstyle, bizarre at it seems, a common one in those days of old Russia?  I ask myself if he in fact is Jewish, and thus a kosher butcher.  The next is called “Dead Game Trader”, whose merchandise just might not be kosher. There is a street trader who appears to have mainly little baskets, and finally a gentleman with a very fine shirt and boots, a fur hat with a Maltese Cross, and some sort of long gun, smoking a pipe. 

The third group shows us a washerwoman, with her whole washtub (made like a barrel, with wooden staves and metal belts) and even a line of washing over her head – which goes to suggest what a photographer might do to recreate life artificially in the studio.  Then we have a woman selling large baskets, a chimney sweep who looks as if he’s just seen a ghost, and a “Game Seller” – which again refers to “game” in the sense of dead animals; I don’t see any toys or dolls in that big basket of his.  (Correction: while the upper two photographs are by J. Monstein, the lower two are by A. Lorens.  The second of the Monstein images – the basket lady – does not have his usual stamp, but the patterned floor is unmistakably the one we see in several other Monstein portraits.)

A fourth group includes two beautifully hand-colored images: one of a bricklayer and one of a storekeeper.  Then we have a yard man (or janitor, or building superintendent) hauling a load of firewood, and a very fierce-looking knife grinder, who must have had very few problems with people not paying him.  All are by Carrick, although the bricklayer is not stamped as such.

Finally we have a man selling what look like potatoes and perhaps nuts, a young man with a tray of small barrels on his head, a glazier (as Penn would do much later), and a young man with sifters.  He looks distinctly Asiatic, not just Slavic; perhaps he is Mongolian or Siberian.  I can’t make out what that is on the floor around him – mud, horse-hockey, or dead leaves – but it shows that the photographer was trying, for the sake of verisimilitude, to bring something of the street into the studio – literally.  We see very similar piles in a number of other photos.  These are all by, it appears, A. Lorens.

It should be noted that these cartes de visite were not used as actual calling cards or business cards by most of their subjects, who were too poor to afford such a promotional expense.  (It was fashionable for wealthier people to have their portraits taken and printed as cartes de visite, which they showed or gave to their friends and associates, much as nowadays many of us share our photographs by the hundred via our cellphones.)  But what Carrick had in mind with these little prints (apart from his ethnographic interests) was a precursor of the picture post card for tourists to send home. 

When I put together this article, I searched for images by William Carrick, and found quite a few designated as such.  However, I noticed that some of the cartes de visite have Carrick’s name and studio address printed on the bottom, while others have another name, “J. Monstein Phot.”.  I couldn’t say why.  But at this writing – updating the article in Novermber 2016 – I can say why, thanks to the information kindly provided by Paul Frecker of the Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography.  He is an expert in the field, and explained what should have been obvious:  that the photographs stamped Monstein are in fact by Monstein, not Carrick.  He mentions two other photographers, A. Lorens and H. Laurent, who produced similar series.  Three of the images above are in fact by Lorens:  the second chimney sweep, the young man carrying sieves, and the glazier.  They all took part in a long tradition (photographic for them, but with roots in the mid-17th century), carried out in several countries.  The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography has an extensive site, where you can find many fine examples of photographs of “Russian types” by the photographers just mentioned, and much more besides:

The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Footnotes and Epilogue: 

William Carrick’s Life 

William Carrick (1827–1878) was born in Scotland, but raised in Russian Kronstadt on the Gulf of Finland.  He lived as a young man in nearby St. Petersburg, and studied architecture, then began instead a career in photography.  He traveled to Edinburgh in 1857 to learn more, then returned to St. Petersburg later that year, this time accompanied by John MacGregor, a photographic technician who became his assistant and indispensable collaborator.  They soon set up a successful studio.  Carrick began his “Russian Types” photographs, and produced cartes de visite featuring these images to sell to tourists from abroad.  Carrick became well-established and well-connected in society.  He and MacGregor made numerous trips to rural Russia to photograph the life and people there, thus continuing this project in ethnographic photography.

Carrick’s Reputation 

In 1869 there was an exhibition of his photographs in St. Petersburg, and also, to considerable acclaim, in London in 1876 and in Paris in 1878.  This suggests to me that he was not utterly forgotten by the history of photography after his death, and that therefore he was not completely obscure during Irving Penn’s lifetime.  He was not simply fished out of oblivion these past few years. Moreover, Carrick had an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 1987 – 22 years before Penn’s death.  (This exhibit was recreated in 2009, using digitally-enhanced images derived from the originals – see link below.)  This above all convinces me that Irving Penn ought to have learned somehow, sooner or later, about the work of William Carrick.  If I am correct, it would be interesting to know the circumstances, and what Penn’s reaction was. 

National Galleries - William Carrick exhibitions of 1987 and 2009

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibitions/william-carrick

There is also the site of the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford which offers several good Carrick photos – most of which I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Several of the photo links are highlighted within the text of a fine informative essay by Philip Grover.  After that, if you click on the thumbnails, you’ll see high-quality images too: 

Pitt Rivers Museum 

http://pittrivers-photo.blogspot.it/2013/07/some-russian-types-by-william-carrick.html 

Epilogue: A Small Mystery Resolved 

This seems as good a place as any to bring the story to an end, and to report what I found, which turned out to be a delight.  Just because of this one mention of a Carrick exhibition, I sent a note to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  I was fishing now, and not really expecting to come up with anything, but I had practically no other ideas about whom to contact.  But this was a lucky first strike: soon I had a response from Julie Lawson, the S.N.P.G.’s Chief Curator, who in fact had curated the 1987 show.  She also coauthored (with Felicity Ashbee) the 1987 book “William Carrick, 1827-1878”, published on the occasion of the exhibit.  This is what she wrote: 

“Dear Allen, 

How interesting to hear that you had the same thought that I did myself back in 1987 when we put on the William Carrick exhibition here in Edinburgh.   I too felt that there must surely be some link – that Penn must have seen the Carrick photographs.  So I actually wrote to Penn and sent him either the publication or some images.  I must have asked what he thought of the photographs. I will share with you his very gracious reply, written by hand and dated Feb. 26, 1987 (shown below): 

‘Dear Mrs. Lawson, 

What wonderful subjects William Carrick had.  Nobody looks that fascinating today. 

I thank you for giving me the privilege of this tiny preview of Carrick’s work.  But honestly (on such short and limited acquaintance) I do not feel competent to say anything for quotation. 

I feel sure you will have an interesting exhibition.  I congratulate you on your efforts. 

With all good wishes, 

sincerely, Irving Penn.’

So – a letter to treasure.  But it does show that he had not (knowingly) come across Carrick’s photographs before. 

Kindest regards, Julie”  

Anyone who is acquainted with Penn’s way of expressing himself in words, whether written or spoken, will appreciate his letter.  His style and phrasing are so completely in character that, even if I didn’t have it from Ms. Lawson, I wouldn’t doubt its authenticity for moment.  His modesty is palpable, and his sincerity is utterly convincing.  He makes a beautiful opening observation about how people look nowadays compared to Carrick’s subjects (even sounding a little envious).  At the same time, Penn’s well-known reserve is evident.  He reveals nothing of what most of us (who admire Penn the artist) would be most curious to know:  how it felt for him to see such a similar body of work carried out some 90 years before his own.  It would have been very interesting.  But he was a man who liked to think well before speaking – a rare type. 

I thanked her for sharing the information with me, and we exchanged a few more messages.  She added that she didn’t think Carrick’s work was known or seen by many prior to the S.N.P.G. exhibition of 1987, and that “Even in Russia, the first exhibition devoted to him was just a few years ago in St. Petersburg.”  She said, however, that Carrick’s photographs do turn up in books about Russia in the 1800s, generally used as a sort of ethnographic illustration (rather than to display his photographs).   So, she supposes (I am paraphrasing), Penn may have seen something of Carrick’s without registering the name of the photographer.  “But certainly the letter shows that he was not aware of having seen any Carricks.” 

I agree completely.  Although it is pure speculation, the seed of an idea may have been planted in Penn’s mind, along with many others from other sources, which eventually bore collective fruit years later, and not only in the Small Trades series.  The idea of a space apart as the setting for a photograph is crucial for Penn.  So many of his images – the corner portraits, Cuzco and all the rest of the “Worlds in a Small Room” material – exploit this neutral and plain setting, a kind of stage.  The paternity or maternity of all this is of course very complicated, as it generally is in the case of any great artist whose works can’t be quickly explained or grasped.  I sense the subtle influence of existentialism and of the theatre of Samuel Beckett, or of modern theatre in general.  But other than the fact that these things were in the air during Penn’s most formative period, I have no reason to be sure of this. 

That Penn, years prior to the Small Trades, might conceivably have seen some Carrick photographs without noting the name, even if the pictures made an impression on him, I can readily imagine:  I worked as an intern at Marlborough Gallery for a short time in 1977, when I had only a vague idea of who Penn was or of his reputation, and I happened to see there a platinum print of Cuzco Children.  I was held up, knowing somehow that I’d seen it before, probably in a magazine when I was just a kid, when the image burned itself into my mind.  Penetrated by an image that seemed to come from a remote place, more remote even than Cuzco itself.  And I hadn’t taken note of the name of Irving Penn. 

I had known nothing of Felicity Ashbee, whom Julie Lawson had mentioned, but looked her up. She happened to be a great-niece of William Carrick, and the daughter of C.R. Ashbee, a very important figure in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, but she was a remarkable person in her own right.  Ms. Lawson added that it is to Ashbee that we owe most of what we know about Carrick’s life.  Ashbee possessed all the family letters, sent mainly by Carrick’s mother to his younger sister in Edinburgh, when the young lady was a student, and later in England after she had married.  She transcribed them and wrote up the family story they recounted.  She also had a large collection of her great-uncle’s photographs as well. 

To Catalogue is to Know 

The impulse to catalogue photographically the phenomena of existence seems a fundamental one, and it deserves attention as such.  The human types that Carrick and Penn photographed were the real people of a specific time and place, whom the photographers transformed, somehow, into archetypes.  Many photographers (and many artists of earlier times) catalogued the subjects of their interests, in the sense that they attempted to record as broad and representative a sample as possible of their subjects’ typologies.  Fox Talbot catalogued plant specimens in cyanotype, and August Sander the ordinary Germans of the interwar era.  Eugene Atget catalogued the buildings, parks, and corners of old Paris, doing essentially what we now call stock photography. Bernd and Hilla Becher catalogued water towers, mine heads, and other industrial structures. These are only a few of the more obvious examples.  The value of these studies may not be fully apparent until years after their making. 

Allen Schill 

January - May 2015 

Copyright © Allen Schill 2015 on the unquoted text only of this article.  All rights reserved. Anyone is welcome to link to this article, or to quote brief passages, but I’d appreciate being notified.  

All photographs by Irving Penn are copyrighted by the Irving Penn Foundation, except for Rag and Bone Man (A), London, 1950, which is copyrighted by Condé Nast Publications, Ltd., and are used with the very kind permission of the respective copyright holders. 

No one who sees William Carrick’s photographs of “Russian Types” who also knows Irving Penn’s “Small Trades” can miss the uncanny resemblance.  Appearances lead us to ask the obvious historical question:  whether Penn knew the work of Carrick and was thus inspired in his own portraits.  As an admirer of Penn I felt I had to know.  In fact he did not, as I eventually confirmed, but he did learn about him much later.  I reveal this here at the beginning only so as not to be a tease.  

However, just so that the reader can appreciate my beginner’s mind, let’s pretend that I haven’t spoiled the surprise, and go back to when I was in that slightly beatified state, curiosity (which is partly what I want to share), and let me spill the remaining beans later.  (I don’t mind that it also makes the job of rewriting the article a bit easier.  I wrote and posted this blog entry early in 2015; the rewrite, with my new information, is of late April.)  So just follow my thinking as I got involved in this question: 

When I consider all the people Penn knew and met in his long career, I can scarcely believe that not a single one knew of Carrick’s work and told him about it.  Surely he met many editors, curators, and scholars who were knowledgeable enough about the history of photography to have possibly heard of Carrick, and I can’t imagine such a person not informing Penn. 

If Penn knew Carrick’s work prior to his own project, it would be truly remarkable.  But this seems highly improbable, given Penn’s age at that time, and Carrick’s relative obscurity.  Even if Penn had known, it would of course detract nothing from his achievement (as if to borrow Carrick’s approach would be to plagiarize him somehow).  But Penn never mentions Carrick in his own brief comments in his books, and I think it unlikely that Penn would have concealed such an influence. I worked for him for a time as one of his assistants.  I can’t say I knew him really well, but my impression of his character is that he would never have been secretive about such a thing. 

Just imagine that Penn, in some discussion with a friend or associate, had spoken about his Small Trades photographs along these lines:  “Back then I came across some old portraits by this Scottish photographer who worked in St. Petersburg in the 1860s.  He brought peddlers and ordinary people of all kinds into his studio with all their gear or baskets of food or whatever, and posed them against a plain background.  The pictures were marvelous.  It seemed like a great way to record the “vanishing species” of the big cities, people I saw every day, involved in occupations that in just a few decades might no longer exist.  It also seemed like something I could do well.” 

But I find no trace of any such comment, and it’s really not so surprising.  After all, Penn was just 33 when he did the Small Trades photographs, and as sophisticated as he was, he most likely would never have come across Carrick, who was admittedly not a major figure of 19th-century photography.  (For my part, I only learned of Carrick at the age of sixty or so, even though I have studied – to some extent – photography and its history for some forty years.  But then again, I don’t get around like Penn did.) 

So the far more likely hypothesis is than Penn knew nothing of Carrick, and yet chanced upon a procedure and an approach that yielded similar results.  But then, the historical question becomes immediately the follow-up implied above – how could it be that no one ever asked Penn subsequently if he’d ever seen Carrick’s old photographs?  Did they think it might have been embarrassing?  I should think, rather, that Penn would have been delighted and amazed.  In the Small Trades photographs, he seems almost to be channeling Carrick.  Artists feel what they do as carrying on an ancient tradition.  It is gratifying to see that someone else, in another age, had the same ideas as you have; it seems to certify the authenticity of what you are doing. 

I suppose that if Penn, after the Small Trades images, had chanced upon any of Carrick’s photographs of tradespeople (apart from the most generic, in which there isn’t that much care taken with the pose), he would have opened his eyes wide.  Artists are highly sensitive to the work of other artists that is very similar to their own, for reasons of aesthetic sensibility of course, but also at times, I think, as part of some kind of territorial instinct.  Penn was certainly above pettiness of that sort, and I believe he would only have enjoyed the company of a kindred soul from another century.   

I’ve never heard the matter mentioned, but an abler historian than I am should look into it for what it’s worth.  A brief online research for Penn and Carrick yields nothing to the point, mostly auction results for one or the other.  Considering all that has been written about Penn (and admitting that I’m not the ablest researcher), I’d be surprised if there were a well-known text that did not come up.  The single mention I’ve found of the two names together in a text only makes the point that both men “brought the street into the studio” to document it.  (This blog, which offers several good examples of the photos of Carrick and Penn, gives Penn’s birth year as 1943, while 1917 is correct.  In fact, its very next paragraph mentions Penn’s Small Trades project of 1950-51 – when he would have been seven years old.  Such a wunderkind! (Look up Silver Moth Art.) 

The question that remains is one of style: how is it that such similar results were obtained by chance by two different individuals, some 80 or 90 years apart?  Photographic style tends to be impersonal, due to the mechanical nature of the process.  Both men’s means were about as simple as can be:  a studio with a neutral background, light, and studio camera.  What imparts to the result something above and beyond the merely documentary, however, is a little harder to define. In the cases of Carrick and Penn, their ingenuity in choosing, arranging, and posing their subjects was most conspicuous.  We sense a careful attention to composition, with carefully balanced asymmetries. 

Since Carrick’s work is not nearly as well-known as Penn’s, I’ll mention first his “Abacus Seller”, one of his best.  The oddly-tilted rectangles of the abacuses and the boy’s immense peddler’s case, the angle taken by his long-booted legs that jut out from underneath, even the curved line where background meets floor, can’t help but suggest Penn’s Small Trades.  Compare it to Penn’s “Vitrier, Paris, 1950”, above, where the rack of panes of glass (that almost conceals the man) dominates the picture, forming an abstract geometrical composition in itself (while suggesting a painter’s easel), all supported in almost surreal fashion by a pair of splayed legs in baggy trousers.  (Penn’s sense of composition was admittedly superior - he tended to emphasize these asymmetries - but Carrick was often very good at this in his own right.) 

Other than composition we have illumination.  In Carrick’s day a photographer’s studio had to have a strong but indirect skylight to allow reasonably short exposure times.  By Penn’s time, flash units had come into use in the studio, but Penn dreamed of going back to an old-fashioned studio with its classic north light.  (In his introduction to Worlds in a Small Room, Penn wrote: “It is a light of such penetrating clarity that even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow, almost a voluptuousness.”  Thus he contrived a situation much like the norm of a century before, and recreated it for many of his projects. 

There is also the formality of both photographers, a peculiar combination of naturalism with artifice, and the rusticity or rough plainness of those who pose for the camera.  The effect, however, is a little different in one as compared to the other:  Carrick is sometimes almost stagy, especially when he poses two figures in conversation, while Penn’s poses, for all their precision, are more natural.  Still, in the work of both photographers, one easily detects as well a quality of timelessness or of being out of time, although it’s a bit fishy or imprecise to say so, as this is a common experience when we look at images from another time and place.

So – if these reflections are of interest to someone out there, they will have been worth my effort. Anyone with something to add to the subject is welcome to write me.  Other than that, this article is an occasion to show some of the works of William Carrick, with a few comparison photographs by Irving Penn. 

The remaining photographs are grouped in fours, and are shown whole as cartes de visite.  (Note that the four images already shown above, separately, are probably slightly cropped from that usual format.)  The first group shows a boy selling baskets, another boy selling toy wheelbarrows, a man selling pots and pans, and a man selling shoes.  The shoe man suggests a Christmas tree with his merchandise draped down his back and chest.  The shoes themselves are remarkable – they look extremely modern and sporty, not at all what you’d imagine for 1860.  In the photo of the boy with the toy wheelbarrows, I sense an irony in the fact that children were given (and presumably wanted) toys that let them imitate the adults in the world of work, people who had a hard life indeed. 

The second group begins with a butcher, lightly hand-colored. I look at his beard and hairstyle – especially the locks that stick out from over his ears – and ask myself if he is Jewish, and a kosher butcher.  The next is called “Dead Game Trader”, whose merchandise just might not be kosher. There is a street trader who appears to have mainly little baskets, and finally a gentleman with a very fine shirt and boots, a fur hat with a Maltese Cross, and some sort of long gun, smoking a pipe. 

The third group shows us a washerwoman, with her whole washtub (made like a barrel, with wooden staves and metal belts) and even a line of washing over her head – which goes to suggest what a photographer might do to recreate life artificially in the studio.  Then we have a woman selling large baskets, a chimney sweep who looks as if he’s just seen a ghost, and a “Game Seller” – which again refers to “game” in the sense of dead animals; I don’t see any toys or dolls in that big basket of his.  (Correction:  while the upper two photographs are by J. Monstein, the lower two are by A Lorens.)

A fourth group includes two beautifully hand-colored images: one of a bricklayer and one of a storekeeper.  Then we have a yard man (or janitor, or building superintendent) hauling a load of firewood, and a very fierce-looking knife grinder, who must have had very few problems with people not paying him. 

Finally we have a man selling what look like potatoes and perhaps nuts, a young man with a tray of small barrels on his head, a glazier (as Penn would do much later), and a young man with sifters.  He looks distinctly Asiatic, not just Slavic; perhaps he is Mongolian or Siberian.  I can’t make out what that is on the floor around him – mud, horse-hockey, or dead leaves – but it shows that Carrick was trying, for the sake of verisimilitude, to bring something of the street into the studio – literally.  We see very similar piles in a number of Carrick’s other photos. 

It should be noted that these cartes de visite were not used as actual calling cards or business cards by most of their subjects, who were too poor to afford such a promotional expense.  (It was fashionable for wealthier people to have their portraits taken and printed as cartes de visite, which they showed or gave  to their friends and associates, much as nowadays many of us share our photographs by the hundred via our cellphones.)  But what Carrick had in mind with these little prints (apart from his ethnographic interests) was a precursor of the picture post card for tourists to send home. 

I notice that some of the cartes de visite have Carrick’s name and studio address printed on the bottom, while others have another name, “J. Monstein Phot.” - just why that is, I can’t say.  

P.S. (Nov. 2016):  now I can say why, thanks to the information kindly provided by Paul Frecker of the Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography.  He is an expert in the field, and explains what should have been obvious to me:  that the photographs stamped Monstein are in fact by Monstein, not Carrick.  He mentions two other photographers, A. Lorens and H. Laurent, who produced similar series of “occupationals”, as the genre is sometimes termed.  Three of the images above are in fact by Lorens:  the second chimney sweep, the young man carrying sieves, and the glazier.  They all took part in a long tradition (photographic for them, but with roots in the mid-17th century), carried out in several countries.  The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography has an extensive site, where you can find many fine examples of photographs of “Russian types” by the photographers just mentioned, and much more besides:

The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

For my part, I might have guessed the simple truth and not taken for granted that some other website did not misattribute the images they offer.  I (who would have made a poor historian) did not look up Monstein at the time, but now I find him with no trouble, and not only through the LNCP.  I found Monstein’s first name to be Jean, though he is thought to be German as he wrote in the old Gothic script, and Lorens first name to be Alfred.  (I find the first names in a passage of Lindsay Smith’s “Lewis Carroll: Photography on the Move”, in which Smith relates the practices of these photographers – that is, the way they posed their subjects – to Carroll’s later photographs involving child models in costume.)

(end postscript)

Footnotes and Epilogue: 

William Carrick’s Life 

William Carrick (1827–1878) was born in Scotland, but raised in Russian Kronstadt on the Gulf of Finland.  He lived as a young man in nearby St. Petersburg, and studied architecture, then began instead a career in photography.  He traveled to Edinburgh in 1857 to learn more, then returned to St. Petersburg later that year, this time accompanied by John MacGregor, a photographic technician who became his assistant and indispensable collaborator.  They soon set up a successful studio.  Carrick began his “Russian Types” photographs, and produced cartes de visite featuring these images to sell to tourists from abroad.  Carrick became well-established and well-connected in society.  He and MacGregor made numerous trips to rural Russia to photograph the life and people there, thus continuing this project in ethnographic photography.

Carrick’s Reputation 

In 1869 there was an exhibition of his photographs in St. Petersburg, and also, to considerable acclaim, in London in 1876 and in Paris in 1878.  This suggests to me that he was not utterly forgotten by the history of photography after his death, and that therefore he was not completely obscure during Irving Penn’s lifetime.  He was not simply fished out of oblivion these past few years. Moreover, Carrick had an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 1987 – 22 years before Penn’s death.  (This exhibit was recreated in 2009, using digitally-enhanced images derived from the originals – see link below.)  This above all convinces me that Irving Penn ought to have learned somehow, sooner or later, about the work of William Carrick.  If I am correct, it would be interesting to know the circumstances, and what Penn’s reaction was. 

National Galleries - William Carrick exhibitions of 1987 and 2009

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibitions/william-carrick

There is also the site of the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford which offers several good Carrick photos – most of which I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Several of the photo links are highlighted within the text of a fine informative essay by Philip Grover.  After that, if you click on the thumbnails, you’ll see high-quality images too: 

Pitt Rivers Museum 

http://pittrivers-photo.blogspot.it/2013/07/some-russian-types-by-william-carrick.html 

Epilogue: A Small Mystery Resolved 

This seems as good a place as any to bring the story to an end, and to report what I found, which turned out to be a delight.  Just because of this one mention of a Carrick exhibition, I sent a note to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  I was fishing now, and not really expecting to come up with anything, but I had practically no other ideas about whom to contact.  But this was a lucky first strike: soon I had a response from Julie Lawson, the S.N.P.G.’s Chief Curator, who in fact had curated the 1987 show.  She also coauthored (with Felicity Ashbee) the 1987 book “William Carrick, 1827-1878”, published on the occasion of the exhibit.  This is what she wrote: 

“Dear Allen, 

How interesting to hear that you had the same thought that I did myself back in 1987 when we put on the William Carrick exhibition here in Edinburgh.   I too felt that there must surely be some link – that Penn must have seen the Carrick photographs.  So I actually wrote to Penn and sent him either the publication or some images.  I must have asked what he thought of the photographs. I will share with you his very gracious reply, written by hand and dated Feb. 26, 1987 (shown below): 

‘Dear Mrs. Lawson, 

What wonderful subjects William Carrick had.  Nobody looks that fascinating today. 

I thank you for giving me the privilege of this tiny preview of Carrick’s work.  But honestly (on such short and limited acquaintance) I do not feel competent to say anything for quotation. 

I feel sure you will have an interesting exhibition.  I congratulate you on your efforts. 

With all good wishes, 

sincerely, Irving Penn.’

So – a letter to treasure.  But it does show that he had not (knowingly) come across Carrick’s photographs before. 

Kindest regards, Julie”  

Anyone who is acquainted with Penn’s way of expressing himself in words, whether written or spoken, will appreciate his letter.  His style and phrasing are so completely in character that, even if I didn’t have it from Ms. Lawson, I wouldn’t doubt its authenticity for moment.  His modesty is palpable, and his sincerity is utterly convincing.  He makes a beautiful opening observation about how people look nowadays compared to Carrick’s subjects (even sounding a little envious).  At the same time, Penn’s well-known reserve is evident.  He reveals nothing of what most of us (who admire Penn the artist) would be most curious to know:  how it felt for him to see such a similar body of work carried out some 90 years before his own.  It would have been very interesting.  But he was a man who liked to think well before speaking – a rare type. 

I thanked her for sharing the information with me, and we exchanged a few more messages.  She added that she didn’t think Carrick’s work was known or seen by many prior to the S.N.P.G. exhibition of 1987, and that “Even in Russia, the first exhibition devoted to him was just a few years ago in St. Petersburg.”  She said, however, that Carrick’s photographs do turn up in books about Russia in the 1800s, generally used as a sort of ethnographic illustration (rather than to display his photographs).   So, she supposes (I am paraphrasing), Penn may have seen something of Carrick’s without registering the name of the photographer.  “But certainly the letter shows that he was not aware of having seen any Carricks.” 

I agree completely.  Although it is pure speculation, the seed of an idea may have been planted in Penn’s mind, along with many others from other sources, which eventually bore collective fruit years later, and not only in the Small Trades series.  The idea of a space apart as the setting for a photograph is crucial for Penn.  So many of his images – the corner portraits, Cuzco and all the rest of the “Worlds in a Small Room” material – exploit this neutral and plain setting, a kind of stage.  The paternity or maternity of all this is of course very complicated, as it generally is in the case of any great artist whose works can’t be quickly explained or grasped.  I sense the subtle influence of existentialism and of the theatre of Samuel Beckett, or of modern theatre in general.  But other than the fact that these things were in the air during Penn’s most formative period, I have no reason to be sure of this. 

That Penn, years prior to the Small Trades, might conceivably have seen some Carrick photographs without noting the name, even if the pictures made an impression on him, I can readily imagine:  I worked as an intern at Marlborough Gallery for a short time in 1977, when I had only a vague idea of who Penn was or of his reputation, and I happened to see there a platinum print of Cuzco Children.  I was held up, knowing somehow that I’d seen it before, probably in a magazine when I was just a kid, when the image burned itself into my mind.  Penetrated by an image that seemed to come from a remote place, more remote even than Cuzco itself.  And I hadn’t taken note of the name of Irving Penn. 

I had known nothing of Felicity Ashbee, whom Julie Lawson had mentioned, but looked her up. She happened to be a great-niece of William Carrick, and the daughter of C.R. Ashbee, a very important figure in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, but she was a remarkable person in her own right.  Ms. Lawson added that it is to Ashbee that we owe most of what we know about Carrick’s life.  Ashbee possessed all the family letters, sent mainly by Carrick’s mother to his younger sister in Edinburgh, when the young lady was a student, and later in England after she had married.  She transcribed them and wrote up the family story they recounted.  She also had a large collection of her great-uncle’s photographs as well. 

To Catalogue is to Know 

The impulse to catalogue photographically the phenomena of existence seems a fundamental one, and it deserves attention as such.  The human types that Carrick and Penn photographed were the real people of a specific time and place, whom the photographers transformed, somehow, into archetypes.  Many photographers (and many artists of earlier times) catalogued the subjects of their interests, in the sense that they attempted to record as broad and representative a sample as possible of their subjects’ typologies.  Fox Talbot catalogued plant specimens in cyanotype, and August Sander the ordinary Germans of the interwar era.  Eugene Atget catalogued the buildings, parks, and corners of old Paris, doing essentially what we now call stock photography. Bernd and Hilla Becher catalogued water towers, mine heads, and other industrial structures. These are only a few of the more obvious examples.  The value of these studies may not be fully apparent until years after their making. 

Allen Schill 

January - May 2015 

Copyright © Allen Schill 2015 on the unquoted text only of this article.  All rights reserved. Anyone is welcome to link to this article, or to quote brief passages, but I’d appreciate being notified.  

All photographs by Irving Penn are copyrighted by the Irving Penn Foundation, except for Rag and Bone Man (A), London, 1950, which is copyrighted by Condé Nast Publications, Ltd., and are used with the very kind permission of the respective copyright holders. 

No one who sees William Carrick’s photographs of “Russian Types”, who also knows Irving Penn’s “Small Trades”, can miss the uncanny resemblance. Appearances lead us to ask the obvious historical question:  whether Penn knew the work of Carrick and was thus inspired in his own portraits. As an admirer of Penn I felt I had to know.  In fact he did not, as I eventually confirmed, but he did learn about him much later.  I reveal this here at the beginning only so as not to be a tease.  

However, just so that the reader can appreciate my beginner’s mind, let’s pretend that I haven’t spoiled the surprise, and go back to when I was in that slightly beatified state, curiosity (which is partly what I want to share), and let me spill the remaining beans later.  (I don’t mind that it also makes the job of rewriting the article a bit easier.  I wrote and posted this blog entry early in 2015; the rewrite, with my new information, is of late April.)  So just follow my thinking as I got involved in this question: 

When I consider all the people Penn knew and met in his long career, I can scarcely believe that not a single one knew of Carrick’s work and told him about it.  Surely he met many editors, curators, and scholars who were knowledgeable enough about the history of photography to have possibly heard of Carrick, and I can’t imagine such a person not informing Penn. 

If Penn knew Carrick’s work prior to his own project, it would be truly remarkable.  But this seems highly improbable, given Penn’s age at that time, and Carrick’s relative obscurity.  Even if Penn had known, it would of course detract nothing from his achievement (as if to borrow Carrick’s approach would be to plagiarize him somehow).  But Penn never mentions Carrick in his own brief comments in his books, and I think it unlikely that Penn would have concealed such an influence. I worked for him for a time as one of his assistants.  I can’t say I knew him really well, but my impression of his character is that he would never have been secretive about such a thing. 

Just imagine that Penn, in some discussion with a friend or associate, had spoken about his Small Trades photographs along these lines:  “Back then I came across some old portraits by this Scottish photographer who worked in St. Petersburg in the 1860s.  He brought peddlers and ordinary people of all kinds into his studio with all their gear or baskets of food or whatever, and posed them against a plain background.  The pictures were marvelous.  It seemed like a great way to record the “vanishing species” of the big cities, people I saw every day, involved in occupations that in just a few decades might no longer exist.  It also seemed like something I could do well.” 

But I find no trace of any such comment, and it’s really not so surprising.  After all, Penn was just 33 when he did the Small Trades photographs, and as sophisticated as he was, he most likely would never have come across Carrick, who was admittedly not a major figure of 19th-century photography.  (For my part, I only learned of Carrick at the age of sixty or so, even though I have studied – to some extent – photography and its history for some forty years.  But then again, I don’t get around like Penn did.) 

So the far more likely hypothesis is than Penn knew nothing of Carrick, and yet chanced upon a procedure and an approach that yielded similar results.  But then, the historical question becomes immediately the follow-up implied above – how could it be that no one ever asked Penn subsequently if he’d ever seen Carrick’s old photographs?  Did they think it might have been embarrassing?  I should think, rather, that Penn would have been delighted and amazed.  In the Small Trades photographs, he seems almost to be channeling Carrick.  Artists feel what they do as carrying on an ancient tradition.  It is gratifying to see that someone else, in another age, had the same ideas as you have; it seems to certify the authenticity of what you are doing. 

I suppose that if Penn, after the Small Trades images, had chanced upon any of Carrick’s photographs of tradespeople (apart from the most generic, in which there isn’t that much care taken with the pose), he would have opened his eyes wide.  Artists are highly sensitive to the work of other artists that is very similar to their own, for reasons of aesthetic sensibility of course, but also at times, I think, as part of some kind of territorial instinct.  Penn was certainly above pettiness of that sort, and I believe he would only have enjoyed the company of a kindred soul from another century.   

I’ve never heard the matter mentioned, but an abler historian than I am should look into it for what it’s worth.  A brief online research for Penn and Carrick yields nothing to the point, mostly auction results for one or the other.  Considering all that has been written about Penn (and admitting that I’m not the ablest researcher), I’d be surprised if there were a well-known text that did not come up.  The single mention I’ve found of the two names together in a text only makes the point that both men “brought the street into the studio” to document it.  (This blog, which offers several good examples of the photos of Carrick and Penn, gives Penn’s birth year as 1943, while 1917 is correct.  In fact, its very next paragraph mentions Penn’s Small Trades project of 1950-51 – when he would have been seven years old.  Such a wunderkind! (Look up Silver Moth Art.) 

The question that remains is one of style: how is it that such similar results were obtained by chance by two different individuals, some 80 or 90 years apart?  Photographic style tends to be impersonal, due to the mechanical nature of the process.  Both men’s means were about as simple as can be:  a studio with a neutral background, light, and studio camera.  What imparts to the result something above and beyond the merely documentary, however, is a little harder to define. In the cases of Carrick and Penn, their ingenuity in choosing, arranging, and posing their subjects was most conspicuous.  We sense a careful attention to composition, with carefully balanced asymmetries. 

Since Carrick’s work is not nearly as well-known as Penn’s, I’ll mention first his “Abacus Seller”, one of his best.  The oddly-tilted rectangles of the abacuses and the boy’s immense peddler’s case, the angle taken by his long-booted legs that jut out from underneath, even the curved line where background meets floor, can’t help but suggest Penn’s Small Trades.  Compare it to Penn’s “Vitrier, Paris, 1950”, above, where the rack of panes of glass (that almost conceals the man) dominates the picture, forming an abstract geometrical composition in itself (while suggesting a painter’s easel), all supported in almost surreal fashion by a pair of splayed legs in baggy trousers.  (Penn’s sense of composition was admittedly superior - he tended to emphasize these asymmetries - but Carrick was often very good at this in his own right.) 

Other than composition we have illumination.  In Carrick’s day a photographer’s studio had to have a strong but indirect skylight to allow reasonably short exposure times.  By Penn’s time, flash units had come into use in the studio, but Penn dreamed of going back to an old-fashioned studio with its classic north light.  (In his introduction to Worlds in a Small Room, Penn wrote: “It is a light of such penetrating clarity that even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow, almost a voluptuousness.”  Thus he contrived a situation much like the norm of a century before, and recreated it for many of his projects. 

There is also the formality of both photographers, a peculiar combination of naturalism with artifice, and the rusticity or rough plainness of those who pose for the camera.  The effect, however, is a little different in one as compared to the other:  Carrick is sometimes almost stagy, especially when he poses two figures in conversation, while Penn’s poses, for all their precision, are more natural.  Still, in the work of both photographers, one easily detects as well a quality of timelessness or of being out of time, although it’s a bit fishy or imprecise to say so, as this is a common experience when we look at images from another time and place.

So – if these reflections are of interest to someone out there, they will have been worth my effort. Anyone with something to add to the subject is welcome to write me.  Other than that, this article is an occasion to show some of the works of William Carrick, with a few comparison photographs by Irving Penn. 

The remaining photographs are grouped in fours, and are shown whole as cartes de visite.  (Note that the four images already shown above, separately, are probably slightly cropped from that usual format.)  The first group shows a boy selling baskets, another boy selling toy wheelbarrows, a man selling pots and pans, and a man selling shoes.  The shoe man suggests a Christmas tree with his merchandise draped down his back and chest.  The shoes themselves are remarkable – they look extremely modern and sporty, not at all what you’d imagine for 1860.  In the photo of the boy with the toy wheelbarrows, I sense an irony in the fact that children were given (and presumably wanted) toys that let them imitate the adults in the world of work, people who had a hard life indeed. 

The second group begins with a butcher, lightly hand-colored. I look at his beard and hairstyle – especially the locks that stick out from over his ears – and ask myself if he is Jewish, and a kosher butcher.  The next is called “Dead Game Trader”, whose merchandise just might not be kosher. There is a street trader who appears to have mainly little baskets, and finally a gentleman with a very fine shirt and boots, a fur hat with a Maltese Cross, and some sort of long gun, smoking a pipe. 

The third group shows us a washerwoman, with her whole washtub (made like a barrel, with wooden staves and metal belts) and even a line of washing over her head – which goes to suggest what a photographer might do to recreate life artificially in the studio.  Then we have a woman selling large baskets, a chimney sweep who looks as if he’s just seen a ghost, and a “Game Seller” – which again refers to “game” in the sense of dead animals; I don’t see any toys or dolls in that big basket of his.  (Correction: while the upper two photographs are by J. Monstein, the lower two are by A Lorens.  The second of the Monstein images – the basket lady – does not have his usual stamp, but the patterned floor is unmistakably the one we see in several other Monstein portraits.)

A fourth group includes two beautifully hand-colored images: one of a bricklayer and one of a storekeeper.  Then we have a yard man (or janitor, or building superintendent) hauling a load of firewood, and a very fierce-looking knife grinder, who must have had very few problems with people not paying him. 

Finally we have a man selling what look like potatoes and perhaps nuts, a young man with a tray of small barrels on his head, a glazier (as Penn would do much later), and a young man with sifters.  He looks distinctly Asiatic, not just Slavic; perhaps he is Mongolian or Siberian.  I can’t make out what that is on the floor around him – mud, horse-hockey, or dead leaves – but it shows that Carrick was trying, for the sake of verisimilitude, to bring something of the street into the studio – literally.  We see very similar piles in a number of Carrick’s other photos. 

It should be noted that these cartes de visite were not used as actual calling cards or business cards by most of their subjects, who were too poor to afford such a promotional expense.  (It was fashionable for wealthier people to have their portraits taken and printed as cartes de visite, which they showed or gave  to their friends and associates, much as nowadays many of us share our photographs by the hundred via our cellphones.)  But what Carrick had in mind with these little prints (apart from his ethnographic interests) was a precursor of the picture post card for tourists to send home. 

I notice that some of the cartes de visite have Carrick’s name and studio address printed on the bottom, while others have another name, “J. Monstein Phot.” - just why that is, I can’t say.  

P.S. (Nov. 2016):  now I can say why, thanks to the information kindly provided by Paul Frecker of the Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography.  He is an expert in the field, and explains what should have been obvious:  that the photographs stamped Monstein are in fact by Monstein, not Carrick.  He mentions two other photographers, A. Lorens and H. Laurent, who produced similar series.  Three of the images above are intact by Lorens:  the second chimney sweep, the young man carrying sieves, and the glazier.  They all took part in a long tradition (photographic for them, but with roots in the mid-17th century), carried out in several countries.  The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography has an extensive site, where you can find many fine examples of photographs of “Russian types” by the photographers just mentioned, and much more besides:

The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

Footnotes and Epilogue: 

William Carrick’s Life 

William Carrick (1827–1878) was born in Scotland, but raised in Russian Kronstadt on the Gulf of Finland.  He lived as a young man in nearby St. Petersburg, and studied architecture, then began instead a career in photography.  He traveled to Edinburgh in 1857 to learn more, then returned to St. Petersburg later that year, this time accompanied by John MacGregor, a photographic technician who became his assistant and indispensable collaborator.  They soon set up a successful studio.  Carrick began his “Russian Types” photographs, and produced cartes de visite featuring these images to sell to tourists from abroad.  Carrick became well-established and well-connected in society.  He and MacGregor made numerous trips to rural Russia to photograph the life and people there, thus continuing this project in ethnographic photography.

Carrick’s Reputation 

In 1869 there was an exhibition of his photographs in St. Petersburg, and also, to considerable acclaim, in London in 1876 and in Paris in 1878.  This suggests to me that he was not utterly forgotten by the history of photography after his death, and that therefore he was not completely obscure during Irving Penn’s lifetime.  He was not simply fished out of oblivion these past few years. Moreover, Carrick had an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 1987 – 22 years before Penn’s death.  (This exhibit was recreated in 2009, using digitally-enhanced images derived from the originals – see link below.)  This above all convinces me that Irving Penn ought to have learned somehow, sooner or later, about the work of William Carrick.  If I am correct, it would be interesting to know the circumstances, and what Penn’s reaction was. 

National Galleries - William Carrick exhibitions of 1987 and 2009

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibitions/william-carrick

There is also the site of the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford which offers several good Carrick photos – most of which I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Several of the photo links are highlighted within the text of a fine informative essay by Philip Grover.  After that, if you click on the thumbnails, you’ll see high-quality images too: 

Pitt Rivers Museum 

http://pittrivers-photo.blogspot.it/2013/07/some-russian-types-by-william-carrick.html 

Epilogue: A Small Mystery Resolved 

This seems as good a place as any to bring the story to an end, and to report what I found, which turned out to be a delight.  Just because of this one mention of a Carrick exhibition, I sent a note to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  I was fishing now, and not really expecting to come up with anything, but I had practically no other ideas about whom to contact.  But this was a lucky first strike: soon I had a response from Julie Lawson, the S.N.P.G.’s Chief Curator, who in fact had curated the 1987 show.  She also coauthored (with Felicity Ashbee) the 1987 book “William Carrick, 1827-1878”, published on the occasion of the exhibit.  This is what she wrote: 

“Dear Allen, 

How interesting to hear that you had the same thought that I did myself back in 1987 when we put on the William Carrick exhibition here in Edinburgh.   I too felt that there must surely be some link – that Penn must have seen the Carrick photographs.  So I actually wrote to Penn and sent him either the publication or some images.  I must have asked what he thought of the photographs. I will share with you his very gracious reply, written by hand and dated Feb. 26, 1987 (shown below): 

‘Dear Mrs. Lawson, 

What wonderful subjects William Carrick had.  Nobody looks that fascinating today. 

I thank you for giving me the privilege of this tiny preview of Carrick’s work.  But honestly (on such short and limited acquaintance) I do not feel competent to say anything for quotation. 

I feel sure you will have an interesting exhibition.  I congratulate you on your efforts. 

With all good wishes, 

sincerely, Irving Penn.’

So – a letter to treasure.  But it does show that he had not (knowingly) come across Carrick’s photographs before. 

Kindest regards, Julie”  

Anyone who is acquainted with Penn’s way of expressing himself in words, whether written or spoken, will appreciate his letter.  His style and phrasing are so completely in character that, even if I didn’t have it from Ms. Lawson, I wouldn’t doubt its authenticity for moment.  His modesty is palpable, and his sincerity is utterly convincing.  He makes a beautiful opening observation about how people look nowadays compared to Carrick’s subjects (even sounding a little envious).  At the same time, Penn’s well-known reserve is evident.  He reveals nothing of what most of us (who admire Penn the artist) would be most curious to know:  how it felt for him to see such a similar body of work carried out some 90 years before his own.  It would have been very interesting.  But he was a man who liked to think well before speaking – a rare type. 

I thanked her for sharing the information with me, and we exchanged a few more messages.  She added that she didn’t think Carrick’s work was known or seen by many prior to the S.N.P.G. exhibition of 1987, and that “Even in Russia, the first exhibition devoted to him was just a few years ago in St. Petersburg.”  She said, however, that Carrick’s photographs do turn up in books about Russia in the 1800s, generally used as a sort of ethnographic illustration (rather than to display his photographs).   So, she supposes (I am paraphrasing), Penn may have seen something of Carrick’s without registering the name of the photographer.  “But certainly the letter shows that he was not aware of having seen any Carricks.” 

I agree completely.  Although it is pure speculation, the seed of an idea may have been planted in Penn’s mind, along with many others from other sources, which eventually bore collective fruit years later, and not only in the Small Trades series.  The idea of a space apart as the setting for a photograph is crucial for Penn.  So many of his images – the corner portraits, Cuzco and all the rest of the “Worlds in a Small Room” material – exploit this neutral and plain setting, a kind of stage.  The paternity or maternity of all this is of course very complicated, as it generally is in the case of any great artist whose works can’t be quickly explained or grasped.  I sense the subtle influence of existentialism and of the theatre of Samuel Beckett, or of modern theatre in general.  But other than the fact that these things were in the air during Penn’s most formative period, I have no reason to be sure of this. 

That Penn, years prior to the Small Trades, might conceivably have seen some Carrick photographs without noting the name, even if the pictures made an impression on him, I can readily imagine:  I worked as an intern at Marlborough Gallery for a short time in 1977, when I had only a vague idea of who Penn was or of his reputation, and I happened to see there a platinum print of Cuzco Children.  I was held up, knowing somehow that I’d seen it before, probably in a magazine when I was just a kid, when the image burned itself into my mind.  Penetrated by an image that seemed to come from a remote place, more remote even than Cuzco itself.  And I hadn’t taken note of the name of Irving Penn. 

I had known nothing of Felicity Ashbee, whom Julie Lawson had mentioned, but looked her up. She happened to be a great-niece of William Carrick, and the daughter of C.R. Ashbee, a very important figure in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, but she was a remarkable person in her own right.  Ms. Lawson added that it is to Ashbee that we owe most of what we know about Carrick’s life.  Ashbee possessed all the family letters, sent mainly by Carrick’s mother to his younger sister in Edinburgh, when the young lady was a student, and later in England after she had married.  She transcribed them and wrote up the family story they recounted.  She also had a large collection of her great-uncle’s photographs as well. 

To Catalogue is to Know 

The impulse to catalogue photographically the phenomena of existence seems a fundamental one, and it deserves attention as such.  The human types that Carrick and Penn photographed were the real people of a specific time and place, whom the photographers transformed, somehow, into archetypes.  Many photographers (and many artists of earlier times) catalogued the subjects of their interests, in the sense that they attempted to record as broad and representative a sample as possible of their subjects’ typologies.  Fox Talbot catalogued plant specimens in cyanotype, and August Sander the ordinary Germans of the interwar era.  Eugene Atget catalogued the buildings, parks, and corners of old Paris, doing essentially what we now call stock photography. Bernd and Hilla Becher catalogued water towers, mine heads, and other industrial structures. These are only a few of the more obvious examples.  The value of these studies may not be fully apparent until years after their making. 

Allen Schill 

January - May 2015 

Copyright © Allen Schill 2015 on the unquoted text only of this article.  All rights reserved. Anyone is welcome to link to this article, or to quote brief passages, but I’d appreciate being notified.  

All photographs by Irving Penn are copyrighted by the Irving Penn Foundation, except for Rag and Bone Man (A), London, 1950, which is copyrighted by Condé Nast Publications, Ltd., and are used with the very kind permission of the respective copyright holders. 

No one who sees William Carrick’s photographs of “Russian Types” who also knows Irving Penn’s “Small Trades” can miss the uncanny resemblance.  Appearances lead us to ask the obvious historical question:  whether Penn knew the work of Carrick and was thus inspired in his own portraits.  As an admirer of Penn I felt I had to know.  In fact he did not, as I eventually confirmed, but he did learn about him much later.  I reveal this here at the beginning only so as not to be a tease.  

However, just so that the reader can appreciate my beginner’s mind, let’s pretend that I haven’t spoiled the surprise, and go back to when I was in that slightly beatified state, curiosity (which is partly what I want to share), and let me spill the remaining beans later.  (I don’t mind that it also makes the job of rewriting the article a bit easier.  I wrote and posted this blog entry early in 2015; the rewrite, with my new information, is of late April.)  So just follow my thinking as I got involved in this question: 

When I consider all the people Penn knew and met in his long career, I can scarcely believe that not a single one knew of Carrick’s work and told him about it.  Surely he met many editors, curators, and scholars who were knowledgeable enough about the history of photography to have possibly heard of Carrick, and I can’t imagine such a person not informing Penn. 

If Penn knew Carrick’s work prior to his own project, it would be truly remarkable.  But this seems highly improbable, given Penn’s age at that time, and Carrick’s relative obscurity.  Even if Penn had known, it would of course detract nothing from his achievement (as if to borrow Carrick’s approach would be to plagiarize him somehow).  But Penn never mentions Carrick in his own brief comments in his books, and I think it unlikely that Penn would have concealed such an influence. I worked for him for a time as one of his assistants.  I can’t say I knew him really well, but my impression of his character is that he would never have been secretive about such a thing. 

Just imagine that Penn, in some discussion with a friend or associate, had spoken about his Small Trades photographs along these lines:  “Back then I came across some old portraits by this Scottish photographer who worked in St. Petersburg in the 1860s.  He brought peddlers and ordinary people of all kinds into his studio with all their gear or baskets of food or whatever, and posed them against a plain background.  The pictures were marvelous.  It seemed like a great way to record the “vanishing species” of the big cities, people I saw every day, involved in occupations that in just a few decades might no longer exist.  It also seemed like something I could do well.” 

But I find no trace of any such comment, and it’s really not so surprising.  After all, Penn was just 33 when he did the Small Trades photographs, and as sophisticated as he was, he most likely would never have come across Carrick, who was admittedly not a major figure of 19th-century photography.  (For my part, I only learned of Carrick at the age of sixty or so, even though I have studied – to some extent – photography and its history for some forty years.  But then again, I don’t get around like Penn did.) 

So the far more likely hypothesis is than Penn knew nothing of Carrick, and yet chanced upon a procedure and an approach that yielded similar results.  But then, the historical question becomes immediately the follow-up implied above – how could it be that no one ever asked Penn subsequently if he’d ever seen Carrick’s old photographs?  Did they think it might have been embarrassing?  I should think, rather, that Penn would have been delighted and amazed.  In the Small Trades photographs, he seems almost to be channeling Carrick.  Artists feel what they do as carrying on an ancient tradition.  It is gratifying to see that someone else, in another age, had the same ideas as you have; it seems to certify the authenticity of what you are doing. 

I suppose that if Penn, after the Small Trades images, had chanced upon any of Carrick’s photographs of tradespeople (apart from the most generic, in which there isn’t that much care taken with the pose), he would have opened his eyes wide.  Artists are highly sensitive to the work of other artists that is very similar to their own, for reasons of aesthetic sensibility of course, but also at times, I think, as part of some kind of territorial instinct.  Penn was certainly above pettiness of that sort, and I believe he would only have enjoyed the company of a kindred soul from another century.   

I’ve never heard the matter mentioned, but an abler historian than I am should look into it for what it’s worth.  A brief online research for Penn and Carrick yields nothing to the point, mostly auction results for one or the other.  Considering all that has been written about Penn (and admitting that I’m not the ablest researcher), I’d be surprised if there were a well-known text that did not come up.  The single mention I’ve found of the two names together in a text only makes the point that both men “brought the street into the studio” to document it.  (This blog, which offers several good examples of the photos of Carrick and Penn, gives Penn’s birth year as 1943, while 1917 is correct.  In fact, its very next paragraph mentions Penn’s Small Trades project of 1950-51 – when he would have been seven years old.  Such a wunderkind! (Look up Silver Moth Art.) 

The question that remains is one of style: how is it that such similar results were obtained by chance by two different individuals, some 80 or 90 years apart?  Photographic style tends to be impersonal, due to the mechanical nature of the process.  Both men’s means were about as simple as can be:  a studio with a neutral background, light, and studio camera.  What imparts to the result something above and beyond the merely documentary, however, is a little harder to define. In the cases of Carrick and Penn, their ingenuity in choosing, arranging, and posing their subjects was most conspicuous.  We sense a careful attention to composition, with carefully balanced asymmetries. 

Since Carrick’s work is not nearly as well-known as Penn’s, I’ll mention first his “Abacus Seller”, one of his best.  The oddly-tilted rectangles of the abacuses and the boy’s immense peddler’s case, the angle taken by his long-booted legs that jut out from underneath, even the curved line where background meets floor, can’t help but suggest Penn’s Small Trades.  Compare it to Penn’s “Vitrier, Paris, 1950”, above, where the rack of panes of glass (that almost conceals the man) dominates the picture, forming an abstract geometrical composition in itself (while suggesting a painter’s easel), all supported in almost surreal fashion by a pair of splayed legs in baggy trousers.  (Penn’s sense of composition was admittedly superior - he tended to emphasize these asymmetries - but Carrick was often very good at this in his own right.) 

Other than composition we have illumination.  In Carrick’s day a photographer’s studio had to have a strong but indirect skylight to allow reasonably short exposure times.  By Penn’s time, flash units had come into use in the studio, but Penn dreamed of going back to an old-fashioned studio with its classic north light.  (In his introduction to Worlds in a Small Room, Penn wrote: “It is a light of such penetrating clarity that even a simple object lying by chance in such a light takes on an inner glow, almost a voluptuousness.”  Thus he contrived a situation much like the norm of a century before, and recreated it for many of his projects. 

There is also the formality of both photographers, a peculiar combination of naturalism with artifice, and the rusticity or rough plainness of those who pose for the camera.  The effect, however, is a little different in one as compared to the other:  Carrick is sometimes almost stagy, especially when he poses two figures in conversation, while Penn’s poses, for all their precision, are more natural.  Still, in the work of both photographers, one easily detects as well a quality of timelessness or of being out of time, although it’s a bit fishy or imprecise to say so, as this is a common experience when we look at images from another time and place.

So – if these reflections are of interest to someone out there, they will have been worth my effort. Anyone with something to add to the subject is welcome to write me.  Other than that, this article is an occasion to show some of the works of William Carrick, with a few comparison photographs by Irving Penn. 

The remaining photographs are grouped in fours, and are shown whole as cartes de visite.  (Note that the four images already shown above, separately, are probably slightly cropped from that usual format.)  The first group shows a boy selling baskets, another boy selling toy wheelbarrows, a man selling pots and pans, and a man selling shoes.  The shoe man suggests a Christmas tree with his merchandise draped down his back and chest.  The shoes themselves are remarkable – they look extremely modern and sporty, not at all what you’d imagine for 1860.  In the photo of the boy with the toy wheelbarrows, I sense an irony in the fact that children were given (and presumably wanted) toys that let them imitate the adults in the world of work, people who had a hard life indeed. 

The second group begins with a butcher, lightly hand-colored. I look at his beard and hairstyle – especially the locks that stick out from over his ears – and ask myself if he is Jewish, and a kosher butcher.  The next is called “Dead Game Trader”, whose merchandise just might not be kosher. There is a street trader who appears to have mainly little baskets, and finally a gentleman with a very fine shirt and boots, a fur hat with a Maltese Cross, and some sort of long gun, smoking a pipe. 

The third group shows us a washerwoman, with her whole washtub (made like a barrel, with wooden staves and metal belts) and even a line of washing over her head – which goes to suggest what a photographer might do to recreate life artificially in the studio.  Then we have a woman selling large baskets, a chimney sweep who looks as if he’s just seen a ghost, and a “Game Seller” – which again refers to “game” in the sense of dead animals; I don’t see any toys or dolls in that big basket of his.  (Correction:  while the upper two photographs are by J. Monstein, the lower two are by A Lorens.)

A fourth group includes two beautifully hand-colored images: one of a bricklayer and one of a storekeeper.  Then we have a yard man (or janitor, or building superintendent) hauling a load of firewood, and a very fierce-looking knife grinder, who must have had very few problems with people not paying him. 

Finally we have a man selling what look like potatoes and perhaps nuts, a young man with a tray of small barrels on his head, a glazier (as Penn would do much later), and a young man with sifters.  He looks distinctly Asiatic, not just Slavic; perhaps he is Mongolian or Siberian.  I can’t make out what that is on the floor around him – mud, horse-hockey, or dead leaves – but it shows that Carrick was trying, for the sake of verisimilitude, to bring something of the street into the studio – literally.  We see very similar piles in a number of Carrick’s other photos. 

It should be noted that these cartes de visite were not used as actual calling cards or business cards by most of their subjects, who were too poor to afford such a promotional expense.  (It was fashionable for wealthier people to have their portraits taken and printed as cartes de visite, which they showed or gave  to their friends and associates, much as nowadays many of us share our photographs by the hundred via our cellphones.)  But what Carrick had in mind with these little prints (apart from his ethnographic interests) was a precursor of the picture post card for tourists to send home. 

I notice that some of the cartes de visite have Carrick’s name and studio address printed on the bottom, while others have another name, “J. Monstein Phot.” - just why that is, I can’t say.  

P.S. (Nov. 2016):  now I can say why, thanks to the information kindly provided by Paul Frecker of the Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography.  He is an expert in the field, and explains what should have been obvious to me:  that the photographs stamped Monstein are in fact by Monstein, not Carrick.  He mentions two other photographers, A. Lorens and H. Laurent, who produced similar series of “occupationals”, as the genre is sometimes termed.  Three of the images above are in fact by Lorens:  the second chimney sweep, the young man carrying sieves, and the glazier.  They all took part in a long tradition (photographic for them, but with roots in the mid-17th century), carried out in several countries.  The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography has an extensive site, where you can find many fine examples of photographs of “Russian types” by the photographers just mentioned, and much more besides:

The Library of Nineteenth-Century Photography

For my part, I might have guessed the simple truth and not taken for granted that some other website did not misattribute the images they offer.  I (who would have made a poor historian) did not look up Monstein at the time, but now I find him with no trouble, and not only through the LNCP.  I found Monstein’s first name to be Jean, though he is thought to be German as he wrote in the old Gothic script, and Lorens first name to be Alfred.  (I find the first names in a passage of Lindsay Smith’s “Lewis Carroll: Photography on the Move”, in which Smith relates the practices of these photographers – that is, the way they posed their subjects – to Carroll’s later photographs involving child models in costume.)

(end postscript)

Footnotes and Epilogue: 

William Carrick’s Life 

William Carrick (1827–1878) was born in Scotland, but raised in Russian Kronstadt on the Gulf of Finland.  He lived as a young man in nearby St. Petersburg, and studied architecture, then began instead a career in photography.  He traveled to Edinburgh in 1857 to learn more, then returned to St. Petersburg later that year, this time accompanied by John MacGregor, a photographic technician who became his assistant and indispensable collaborator.  They soon set up a successful studio.  Carrick began his “Russian Types” photographs, and produced cartes de visite featuring these images to sell to tourists from abroad.  Carrick became well-established and well-connected in society.  He and MacGregor made numerous trips to rural Russia to photograph the life and people there, thus continuing this project in ethnographic photography.

Carrick’s Reputation 

In 1869 there was an exhibition of his photographs in St. Petersburg, and also, to considerable acclaim, in London in 1876 and in Paris in 1878.  This suggests to me that he was not utterly forgotten by the history of photography after his death, and that therefore he was not completely obscure during Irving Penn’s lifetime.  He was not simply fished out of oblivion these past few years. Moreover, Carrick had an exhibition at the Scottish National Portrait Gallery in Edinburgh in 1987 – 22 years before Penn’s death.  (This exhibit was recreated in 2009, using digitally-enhanced images derived from the originals – see link below.)  This above all convinces me that Irving Penn ought to have learned somehow, sooner or later, about the work of William Carrick.  If I am correct, it would be interesting to know the circumstances, and what Penn’s reaction was. 

National Galleries - William Carrick exhibitions of 1987 and 2009

https://www.nationalgalleries.org/whatson/exhibitions/william-carrick

There is also the site of the Pitt Rivers Museum at Oxford which offers several good Carrick photos – most of which I haven’t seen elsewhere.  Several of the photo links are highlighted within the text of a fine informative essay by Philip Grover.  After that, if you click on the thumbnails, you’ll see high-quality images too: 

Pitt Rivers Museum 

http://pittrivers-photo.blogspot.it/2013/07/some-russian-types-by-william-carrick.html 

Epilogue: A Small Mystery Resolved 

This seems as good a place as any to bring the story to an end, and to report what I found, which turned out to be a delight.  Just because of this one mention of a Carrick exhibition, I sent a note to the Scottish National Portrait Gallery.  I was fishing now, and not really expecting to come up with anything, but I had practically no other ideas about whom to contact.  But this was a lucky first strike: soon I had a response from Julie Lawson, the S.N.P.G.’s Chief Curator, who in fact had curated the 1987 show.  She also coauthored (with Felicity Ashbee) the 1987 book “William Carrick, 1827-1878”, published on the occasion of the exhibit.  This is what she wrote: 

“Dear Allen, 

How interesting to hear that you had the same thought that I did myself back in 1987 when we put on the William Carrick exhibition here in Edinburgh.   I too felt that there must surely be some link – that Penn must have seen the Carrick photographs.  So I actually wrote to Penn and sent him either the publication or some images.  I must have asked what he thought of the photographs. I will share with you his very gracious reply, written by hand and dated Feb. 26, 1987 (shown below): 

‘Dear Mrs. Lawson, 

What wonderful subjects William Carrick had.  Nobody looks that fascinating today. 

I thank you for giving me the privilege of this tiny preview of Carrick’s work.  But honestly (on such short and limited acquaintance) I do not feel competent to say anything for quotation. 

I feel sure you will have an interesting exhibition.  I congratulate you on your efforts. 

With all good wishes, 

sincerely, Irving Penn.’

So – a letter to treasure.  But it does show that he had not (knowingly) come across Carrick’s photographs before. 

Kindest regards, Julie”  

Anyone who is acquainted with Penn’s way of expressing himself in words, whether written or spoken, will appreciate his letter.  His style and phrasing are so completely in character that, even if I didn’t have it from Ms. Lawson, I wouldn’t doubt its authenticity for moment.  His modesty is palpable, and his sincerity is utterly convincing.  He makes a beautiful opening observation about how people look nowadays compared to Carrick’s subjects (even sounding a little envious).  At the same time, Penn’s well-known reserve is evident.  He reveals nothing of what most of us (who admire Penn the artist) would be most curious to know:  how it felt for him to see such a similar body of work carried out some 90 years before his own.  It would have been very interesting.  But he was a man who liked to think well before speaking – a rare type. 

I thanked her for sharing the information with me, and we exchanged a few more messages.  She added that she didn’t think Carrick’s work was known or seen by many prior to the S.N.P.G. exhibition of 1987, and that “Even in Russia, the first exhibition devoted to him was just a few years ago in St. Petersburg.”  She said, however, that Carrick’s photographs do turn up in books about Russia in the 1800s, generally used as a sort of ethnographic illustration (rather than to display his photographs).   So, she supposes (I am paraphrasing), Penn may have seen something of Carrick’s without registering the name of the photographer.  “But certainly the letter shows that he was not aware of having seen any Carricks.” 

I agree completely.  Although it is pure speculation, the seed of an idea may have been planted in Penn’s mind, along with many others from other sources, which eventually bore collective fruit years later, and not only in the Small Trades series.  The idea of a space apart as the setting for a photograph is crucial for Penn.  So many of his images – the corner portraits, Cuzco and all the rest of the “Worlds in a Small Room” material – exploit this neutral and plain setting, a kind of stage.  The paternity or maternity of all this is of course very complicated, as it generally is in the case of any great artist whose works can’t be quickly explained or grasped.  I sense the subtle influence of existentialism and of the theatre of Samuel Beckett, or of modern theatre in general.  But other than the fact that these things were in the air during Penn’s most formative period, I have no reason to be sure of this. 

That Penn, years prior to the Small Trades, might conceivably have seen some Carrick photographs without noting the name, even if the pictures made an impression on him, I can readily imagine:  I worked as an intern at Marlborough Gallery for a short time in 1977, when I had only a vague idea of who Penn was or of his reputation, and I happened to see there a platinum print of Cuzco Children.  I was held up, knowing somehow that I’d seen it before, probably in a magazine when I was just a kid, when the image burned itself into my mind.  Penetrated by an image that seemed to come from a remote place, more remote even than Cuzco itself.  And I hadn’t taken note of the name of Irving Penn. 

I had known nothing of Felicity Ashbee, whom Julie Lawson had mentioned, but looked her up. She happened to be a great-niece of William Carrick, and the daughter of C.R. Ashbee, a very important figure in William Morris’s Arts and Crafts movement, but she was a remarkable person in her own right.  Ms. Lawson added that it is to Ashbee that we owe most of what we know about Carrick’s life.  Ashbee possessed all the family letters, sent mainly by Carrick’s mother to his younger sister in Edinburgh, when the young lady was a student, and later in England after she had married.  She transcribed them and wrote up the family story they recounted.  She also had a large collection of her great-uncle’s photographs as well. 

To Catalogue is to Know 

The impulse to catalogue photographically the phenomena of existence seems a fundamental one, and it deserves attention as such.  The human types that Carrick and Penn photographed were the real people of a specific time and place, whom the photographers transformed, somehow, into archetypes.  Many photographers (and many artists of earlier times) catalogued the subjects of their interests, in the sense that they attempted to record as broad and representative a sample as possible of their subjects’ typologies.  Fox Talbot catalogued plant specimens in cyanotype, and August Sander the ordinary Germans of the interwar era.  Eugene Atget catalogued the buildings, parks, and corners of old Paris, doing essentially what we now call stock photography. Bernd and Hilla Becher catalogued water towers, mine heads, and other industrial structures. These are only a few of the more obvious examples.  The value of these studies may not be fully apparent until years after their making. 

Allen Schill 

January - May 2015 

Copyright © Allen Schill 2015 on the unquoted text only of this article.  All rights reserved. Anyone is welcome to link to this article, or to quote brief passages, but I’d appreciate being notified.  

All photographs by Irving Penn are copyrighted by the Irving Penn Foundation, except for Rag and Bone Man (A), London, 1950, which is copyrighted by Condé Nast Publications, Ltd., and are used with the very kind permission of the respective copyright holders. 

© Copyright Allen Schill

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