Author Archives: earlylatinamericanphoto

Earliest photographic views of venezuela, 1857

Pal Rosti Barkoczi (also known as Paul de Rosti) was a pioneer of photography in Venezuela. The eleven views of Caracas and the valle the Aragua he left us are the earliest photographic views of Venezuela – and should be ranked as masterpieces of primitive photography.

Quebrada de Catuche (all titles are the original from Rosti hand)

Pal Rosti was born in Budapest, Hungary, in 1830. He studied at the university of Munich School of Science for four years then geography and ethnography in Budapest in 1853. In 1854 and 1855, Rosti is probably in Paris, learning photography. Although he doesn’t appear in the extensive list of Gustave Le Gray students, he certainly learnt his waxed paper negative process.

La Trinidad et le grand Samang

On August 4th 1856 he embarks from le Havre to New York, and travels in the United States as far as Wisconsin. In January 1857 he arrives in Cuba.

He lands in Venezuela probably late March 1857, arriving in La Guaira (he leaves Cuba on March 12th and sails thru Saint-Thomas) and leaves Venezuela at the end of June. So he spends at most three months travelling from la Guaira to Angostura.

His trip in Venezuela includes visit to Caracas, the Valle de Aragua (San Mateo and the El Palmar hacienda) then south to San Juan del Moros, probably the Lllanos, then the Orinoco river up to Angostura (now Ciudad Bolivar). But he photographs only Caracas and the Valle de Aragua. A quote from his diary explains why : “In order to simplify my trip, I left my cameras at “El Palmar” which I wouldn’t have been able to use anyway in the Llanos, and my extra luggage as well, requesting them to send it on to Saint Thomas from La Guaira. I found them there after several months.”

From Angostura he probably sails back to Saint-Thomas and then to Veracruz, Mexico.

El grande Samang, cerca de Turmero, valle de Aragua

Rosti lands on 8 August 1858 in Southampton. From there, it is very likely that he travels to Paris, then Hungary thru Berlin. On November 1st 1858, Rosti visits Alexander Von Humboldt, the inspiration for his travel,  in his house in Berlin and offers him an album of forty seven photographic views (the copy presently at the Ludwig Museum in Cologne). At the beginning of 1859, he exhibits his photographic views of Cuba, Venezuela and Mexico at the National Casino in Budapest.

La Pastora

The bindings of all four existing album bear the mark of Despierres from Paris. We therefore know that all prints were made between his arrival in Southampton and his arrival in Berlin. It is more than likely that the prints were also made in Paris – the Le Gray atelier a prime suspect for such a wonderful job. We also know that Rosti had less than three months, between his arrival in England and his meeting with Humboldt, to have the photographs printed and the album bound – including travel time from Southampton to Berlin via Paris. That might explain why so few copies of the album are known.

Hacienda de azucar, près de Caracas

San Mateo

Four albums are known, three of which are located in Hungary and one in Germany. The contents of the three albums located in Hungary are not identical. The copy in the National Széchenyi Library which was originally given to the Hungarian National Museum contains 45 prints, the album in the Museum of Photography contains 47 prints, the album of the Loránd Eötvös Geophysical Institute contains 40 prints. The album in Cologne contained 47 prints (with 5 missing today).

In the two 47 prints albums, four pictures show parts of Havana, 11 photograph landscapes and buildings in Venezuela, and the remaining 32 from Mexico.

La maison de Bolivar

Une plantation de café

San Juan de los Moros

The whereabouts of the paper negatives are unknown. None of the photographs he might have taken in France or the United States have ever been found.

I am very grateful to the Ludwig Museum in Cologne for letting me have a long look at this stunning album.

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Edward Weston, Portraits of Jose Clemente Orozco, 1926

The following portraits of Mexican painter Jose Clemente Orozco are photoshop renditions of ten negatives found in the Anita Brenner collection in Mexico City. 

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco. 1926

Of these negatives, only one print is known to exist. That print was part of a Sotheby’s sale in Paris on November 19th, 2010, lot 28, and attributed at the time to Tina Modotti. I was the expert of the sale and I was wrong… Now I’ll explain why we can now attribute these images to Edward Weston. 

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

We knew from Weston daybooks that on Sunday 4th 1926 Anita and Weston visited Jose Clemente Orozco studio, but Weston doesn’t mention taking photographs : « May 4. Sunday, Anita and I went to Coyoacan to visit with Orozco the painter. I had hardly known his work before, which I found fine and strong. His cartoons – splendid drawings, in which he spared no one, either capitalist or revolutionnary leader – were scathing satires, quite as helpful in destroying a « cause », heroes and villains alike, as a machine gun. I would place Orozco among the first four or five painters of Mexico, perhaps higher. » Edward Weston Daybook.

 

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

While working on Brenner’s daybook, published after the Sotheby’s sale, we realized that Weston had indeed take a few portraits of Orozco that day (interestingly, Anita gets the date wrong, May 2d instead of 4th)… : « Sunday, May 2 (sic). Went out this morning to Orozco’s studio with Edward Weston. Edward made some portraits of him. Orozco showed us some of his old things and a few studies for the frescos he is doing. I got a beautiful complementation to my article on him. Some drawings, a small oil painting on paper, and a large one, head, perfectly first class. »

So we know for a fact that Weston made some portraits of Orozco, and probably to be used by Anita Brenner for an article. It would explain why he did not print more from these negatives, and why they were found in Anita Brenner estate.

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

These portraits were not used in the article mentioned in Anita’s daybook (it is not clear what article she is talking about, but the portrait is not reproduce in Forma or Mexican Folkways, the two revistas she was involved with). She did published an article in New Masses in New York, in January 1927, but I have been unable to get a look at it. 

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Portraits of Mexican muralist José Clemente Orozco, 1926

Anyway, I am glad I can finally attribute these remarquable portraits to Edward Weston. It is quite unusual to recover such a important body of work from one of the greatest photographer of the XXth century.

Anita Brenner’s Journal of the Roaring Twenties, edited by her daughter Susannah Glusker, is available from the University of Texas Press : it is an entertaining and fascinating account of the artistic and cultural life in Mexico City during the Mexican “renaissance”.

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The adventurous and tragic life of Jacob Granat

We just found in Paris around twenty nice Mexican photographs, mostly tipos and views
of the City of Mexico, titled and signed « J. Granat » – a name unknown to us. We quickly discovered that these photographs were widely produced as offset post card – but the
original photographic prints are rare. Included in the lot of prints was an unsigned street
view of calle San Francisco in Mexico City, with a Granat shop in the foreground, its likely
owner in the doorway. As good a clue as it gets.

Jacob Granat was born in 1871 in Lemberg (today Lviv), a city in Western Ukraine, at the
time part of the Austrian empire. In 1900, at the invitation of his uncle Jacob Kalt, he
moved to Veracruz in Mexico, and a year later in Mexico City. We know that he had an uncle
or a cousin working at the casa Boker, one of the most successful German owned business
in Mexico. Interestingly, Guillermo Kahlo worked at casa Boker during the last years of
the 19th century, and probably took his first photographs during the construction of the
new Boker shop in 1898-1899.

We also know that Jacob Granat became rapidly the « curio king » of the capital, selling luggages, post cards and other souvenirs from his shop in calle San Francisco, in the
Historical center. But the bulk of the business was apparently luggages, and we are
inclined to think that Jacob Granat was not the photographer, but the distributor of
these images, either in photographic prints or in post cards.

Guillermo Kahlo and Jacob Granat were born the same year (1871), were both German
speaking and both had strong connections with the Boker family. It is therefore almost
certain that they knew each other. It is tempting to speculate that when Granat opened
his « curio shop » he asked Kahlo for some tipos photographs. We will need further
research to validate this hypothesis.

Jacob Granat credits

Tipos Mexicanos

Calendario Azteca

Evangelista, Mexico

Tortillera, Mexico

Su Chata

Mercado

Los Consentidos de la casa

Ruinas de Mitla

Indias Amatecas

In 1906, Jacob Granat sold his shop to purchase the old Borda palace, where he opened
the first movie theater of the city, the famous Salon Rojo. Salon Rojo rapidly became the
most luxurious and successful theater in the city, and a center of night life for Mexico rich
and famous. It attracted politicians, notably Francisco Madero, who used to hold political meetings in Salon Rojo, and became a friend for Granat. In 1911, Madero was elected
president, and did probably reward Granat for his support.

In June 1912, Jacob Granat was one of the founder and the first president of Alianza Beneficencia Monte Sinai, the first Jewish charitable organization in Mexico.

in the mid 1920’s, Granat sold the salon Rojo and moved back to Europe, settling in Austria.
The reason of this exile are unknown. Some of Granat descendants speculate that he could
not deal with the grief from his friend Madero’s assassination.

Little is know of Jacob’s whereabout in Austria. Some of his relatives still living in Mexico
wrote recently that he tried to move back to Mexico after the Nazi invasion of Austria,
but could not, or was not allowed, to travel.

Jacob Granat was murdered by the Nazi regime at Auschwitz in 1943.

So let’s go back to the photograph of the Granat shop, and zoom in : here is the moving
image of a man I like to think is Jacob, the « curio king » in the doorway of his shop,
his face sadly in the shade of his straw boater.

Jacob Granat, Calle San Francisco, circa 1903

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http://www.enlacejudio.com/2012/10/25/la-historia-de-jacobo-granat-amigo-de-presidentes-pionero-de-la-comunidad-judia/

http://www.boker.net/html/edificio_boker.html

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casa_Borda

http://msinai.mx/nosotros/historia

New early views of Venezuela, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

Main street of Barcelona, Anzoategui, 1890

We just acquired this amazing album of early views of Venezuela, mostly Anzoategui and Vargas states, dated 1890. It comes from a Corsican family, probably a member, or a friend, of the Dominici family. The Dominici emigrated to Venezuela in the late 18th century and settled in Sucre state. They gave a least three importants venezuelians : Anibal Dominici (1837-1897) lawyer and politician, first Minister of Education of Venezuela ; Santos Dominici (1869-1954) prominent doctor and writer ; Pedro Cesar Dominici (1873-1954), writer and diplomat.

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

A street view of Puerto la Cruz, Anzoategui, 1890

The owner of this album was most likely an engineer, with a strong interest in metallic structures.

As far as we know, most of these prints are unique.

Caribe indians

Caribe indians

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Construction of the Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

Quebrada de Guanta

The beach of  Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

Quebrada de Guanta

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The Wharf at Guanta, Anzoategui, 1890

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas going thru Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas, Maiquetia

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

The railway from La Guaira to Caracas

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https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Santos_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pedro_César_Dominici

https://es.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anìbal_Dominici

We just acquired this rare set of early views of Tachira state. Mostly mountainous, the andean state of Tachira and its capital San Cristobal were almost cut off from the rest of the country until the early 20th century, mostly due to the lack of roads – and 19th century photographs of the Venezuela Andes are extremely rare. It is therefore a pleasure to share this discovery with you.

These prints come from Germany and depict a couple of German shop or warehouse. German immigrants were especially active in coffee trade in Los Andes state at the time, as well as in Maracaibo. All the prints are captioned on verso in Spanish. Most of them are in stunning condition.

View of San Cristobal

View of San Cristobal

Plaza Paez, San Cristobal

Plaza Paez, San Cristobal

The slaughterhouse, San Cristobal

The slaughterhouse, San Cristobal

German shop in San Cristobal

German shop in San Cristobal

Detail of the previous photo

Detail of the previous photo

Storehouse of the casa Blohm, San Cristobal

Storehouse of the casa Blohm, San Cristobal

Detail of Casa Blohm, with a poster about "cuestion guyana"

Detail of Casa Blohm, with a poster about “cuestion guyana”

A German family house in San Cristobal

A German family house in San Cristobal

San Cristobal, the electrical power plant.

San Cristobal, the electrical power plant.

The electrical power plant from the outside

The electrical power plant from the outside

Barrio Guzman, San Cristobal

Barrio Guzman, San Cristobal

The barrio Guzman was built in the early 1880’s after the 1875 earthquake almost destroyed San Cristobal.

Torbes river, San Cristobal

Torbes river, San Cristobal

Barria de la Guaira, Rubio

Barria de la Guaira, Rubio

The City of Rubio, is ten kilometers South-West of San Cristobal, close to the Colombian border.

Main street of Rubio

Main street of Rubio

Merida and the Sierra Nevada

Merida and the Sierra Nevada

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