16.5 х 20.75 in. (41.91 x 52.7 cm.)
Artist: Unknown(Orel Fussli & Co., Photoglob)
Foil Stamp, Lower right: "DETROIT PHOTOGRAPHIC CO."
Paper/Image Size: 16.5" x 20.75"(41.9cm x 52.7cm)
The gallery retail for this photograph is: $2,500
Price Estimate: $1,700 - $2,200
This vintage photochrom is in excellent overall condition. Typical of prints from the late 19th century, there are minor, scattered handling creases, primarily visible in raking light. There is a minor, .25" x .25"(.63x.63cm) area of loss at the lower left print edge. Excellent, rich impression with a lustrous surface.
Christopher Cardozo Fine Art is pleased to offer, for the first time in over one hundred years, a rare selection of European panoramic and mammoth photochroms. Dating from the late 1800’s, these rare, over-sized prints include scenes of Switzerland, Germany, France, Spain, Morocco, Italy, India, Austria and Belgium. They range in size from 6.5” x 17.5” to 16.5”x20.5”. These unusual, stunning prints offer a unique glimpse into the rich and varied aspects of European life at the turn of the last century. Photochroms are recognized as an historically and aesthetically important link in the very earliest days of color photography. They have been collected internationally by both private collectors and museums. Photochroms have been the subject of ten different publications recently, as well as major exhibitions in Paris, Geneva, and Zurich. The prints being offered here are in exceptional condition and are from the world’s largest photochrom archive, which has been held intact for over one hundred years.
The Photochrom process is distinct from all other color photography. The process used high quality color inks which were laid down on paper with 4 to 12 lithographic stones per print, with each stone weighing as much as 65 pounds. A final varnish coat gave each print a lustrous patina and added depth and richness. Thus a beautiful hand-colored quality was achieved, and the result is a print that is both distinct and unique. Photochroms are now recognized as one of the earliest efforts at bringing color to photography. Their importance is the history of photography is evidenced by the fact that a major Spanish museum, the Reina Sofia, purchased an extensive collection of Spanish photochroms.
This complex, patented process, the exact details of which are still unknown, set the standard for color photography and won international acclaim. The process was developed in Zurich, Switzerland in the 1880’s by the firm of Orel Fussli & Co. (Photoglob). It’s Swiss inventor and the Detroit Publishing Co., which licensed it exclusively for the United States, kept the technique of making photochroms an absolute secret. The printing process required an extraordinary amount of time, labor and money. Ultimately, the process was abandoned because of the great expense and logistical hurdles it entailed.
In 1889, brilliantly colored photographic prints made by this carefully guarded, patented Swiss process won a gold medal at the World Exposition in Paris. To a public familiar only with black & white photographs, these full-color prints were astounding for their beauty and realism. Photochroms triggered strong interest among collectors of the time. Unfortunately, very few European photochroms survive of any given image and even fewer survive in the condition of the prints in this archive. Given the condition, provenance, rarity and importance of these photochroms, this represents an unusual opportunity to acquire important, beautiful vintage photographs at a modest price.