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  • Worcester Art Museum Traveling Exhibition Exposes Early Years of Photography

    (WORCESTER, Mass., Aug. 22, 2003) - The Worcester Art Museum hosts a traveling exhibition of rare 19th-century European photographs amassed by renowned cellist and collector Janos Scholz.

    A Gift of Light: Photographs in the Janos Scholz Collection, on view Sept. 6 through Nov. 30, features about 60 photographs from the first decades following the inventions of daguerreotype and paper photography, both announced in 1839. Scholz donated his collection of nearly 5,000 photographs to the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame, which organized this exhibition.

    Selected works by pioneer photographers such as Englishman William Henry Fox Talbot, Scotsmen David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson, and Frenchmen Gustave LeGray, Charles Marville and Edouard Baldus reflect the evolution of photographic techniques and broadening subject matter.

    At about the same time that Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre began experimenting with copper plate photographs, now called daguerreotypes, Talbot invented the first paper negative using chemically-treated, light-sensitive paper. He developed a method for making a positive image by placing the negative on a second sheet of treated paper and setting it in the sun.

    Because Talbot had not developed a fixative to make these early images permanent, they are particularly susceptible to fading. A number of photographs in the exhibition are protected from light by curtains, which Museum visitors can lift to view.

    “Victorian photographers captured life in Britain, and across the British Empire, creating the first photographic record of an era,” said David Acton, curator of prints, drawings and photographs at the Worcester Art Museum.

    In the 1840s, business partners Hill and Adamson produced the first significant body of work in paper photography, developing 2,500 negatives over five years. Portraiture formed a major part of their practice, but the pair also explored landscape, costume and genre photography.

    LeGray became an innovator of waxed paper negatives, discovering that the wax makes the negative more translucent, producing a sharper positive image. Marville employed this technique, while other colleagues, like Baldus, turned to collodion negatives on glass for even sharper images. Most of the photographs in the exhibition were made from collodion negatives on glass.

    The exhibition also features the work of British Victorian photographers Julia Margaret Cameron, famous for her portraits of famous Englishmen and of her female friends and servants, and Roger Fenton, who photographed the Crimean War and also worked as official photographer for the British Museum.

    “The diffusion of photography changed the way people viewed the world,” said Acton. “Photographers joined international expeditions to much of the known world, and their travel photographs were tremendously popular. Photography also made portraiture more accessible and affordable, fundamentally changing the way we perceive and remember people.”

    Scholz, born in Hungary in 1903, was a member of the celebrated Roth Quartet and performed around the world. In 1933, he arrived in New York, “with nothing but a suitcase and a cello.” He continued to perform, record, and became one of the leading cello teachers of his generation. Scholz bought his first drawing in 1935, and eventually assembled one of the world's finest private collections of Italian drawings in the world, most of which is now at the Pierpont Morgan Library in New York. In the late 1970s, Scholz began his collection of European 19th-century photographs, which eventually grew to nearly 5,000 objects. Between 1978 and 1997, Scholz sent bundles of the photographs to the Snite Museum of Art at the University of Notre Dame. Upon his death in 1993, his family discovered hundreds more, which they also donated to the Snite.

    The Worcester showing of this exhibition is sponsored by the BHR Life Companies with additional generous support provided by the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.

    RELATED EVENT

    Grand Tours: Photography, Archaeology and Victorian Tourism
    Sunday, Sept. 14, 2:30 p.m.
    Guest lecturer Morna O'Neill, co-editor of the catalogue which accompanies the traveling exhibition A Gift of Light: Photographs in the Janos Scholz Collection, addresses the crucial role of photography in documenting and popularizing the archaeological sites of Italy, Greece, Egypt, and the Holy Lands for the Victorian public. O'Neill is a doctoral candidate in the history of art at Yale University. Free. Reception follows. Co-sponsored by the Archaeological Institute of America-Worcester Society.

    About the Worcester Art Museum

    The Worcester Art Museum, which opened to the public in 1898, is world-renowned for its 35,000-piece collection of paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, photography, prints, drawings and new media. The works span 5,000 years of art and culture, ranging from ancient Roman mosaics to Japanese prints, Colonial silver, Impressionist paintings and contemporary art. Dedicated to the promotion of art and art education, the Museum offers a year-round studio art and art appreciation program that enrolls over 6,000 adult and youth students each year.

    Museum hours are Wednesday through Sunday, 11 a.m.-5 p.m., Thursday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m., and Saturday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Admission is $8 for adults, $6 for seniors and full-time college students with current ID, and FREE for Members and all youth 17 and under. Admission is also FREE for everyone on Saturday mornings, 10 a.m.-noon. The Museum is located at 55 Salisbury St., Worcester, Mass., easily accessible from the Massachusetts Turnpike (I-90), Route 290 and Route 9. Free parking is available near entrances on Salisbury, Lancaster and Tuckerman streets. For more information, call (508) 799-4406.

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