I am always on the look out for interesting additions of nudes to my collection. I try very hard to include a wide variety artistic mediums in the collection. I spent many an hour in the darkroom producing photographic works of my own but I have seldom collected what I consider purely academic works of the nude from 19th century photographic workshops. I don't know what it is about photography of the nude that turns me off. I guess the over abundance of specimens and the erotisization of the body itself in the 20th century contributes to my dislike. The age old argument that photography is too mechanical to be a genuine form of art. The photographic nude becomes too literal and too prone to exploitation. I guess that is why the Ancient Greeks achieved the perfection of reality in their sculptural nudes then abandoned the real for the stylized. Perfection is just too damned boring. If you are interested in the psychology of photography, then one book is requisite for you, Susan Sontag's small volume titled: On Photography. She nails the subject matter completely. All the whys, whens, and wheres of the medium.
Every once in a blue moon I run across something that catches my artistic eye and this is one of those instances. The subject of this little tin type has such nobility about it that I gladly brought it into my collection of nudes. This blue eyed "Little Prince" just sits there in all his naked glory, captured forever in his complete Zen serenity. There is a small studio stamp in the lower left hand corner, but I cannot make it out. His parents were obviously proud of the little rascal, going to all the trouble of hauling him down to the photo studio and stripping him naked for the world to see. And yet, there he sits, bearing the unbearable, the indignity of his nakedness, calm, cool, and collected. He had to have been a rambunctious little guy, look at all those scars on his legs from rough play, then again, those may be mosquito bites. I can just hear him: "Can we go home now?" It is when you truly notice the details that a small object like this transcends the common place and becomes something else altogether.
Caption: Seated Nude Boy
Artist: Anonymous Photographic Studio, Philadelphia, Pa.
Medium: Tin Type
Dated: circa. 1860-1865