François Débouassoud Abney, William  (British, 1843-1920)

The photographic illustrations which have hitherto accompanied publications have, as a rule, been silver-prints which are more or less fugitive, or by some permanent process in which the artistic qualities are spoiled by a vulgar gloss. It has been our object to avoid both these defects, and the portraits have been printed from plates produced by photogravure, a process almost as old as photography itself, but which has only recently been rendered possible for a work of this kind by recent improvements. The illustrations, being in printer’s ink, will last as long as the paper on which they are printed. [1]

An important book in the field of Victorian portraiture, the portraits are not posed in the studio, as was almost always the case in this period, but rather taken in the guide’s own surroundings – environmental portraits. Furthermore, they are mostly wearing ordinary mountaineering dress, rather than their Sunday best. Abney (1843-1920), was a famous photographer, and an early pioneer in color photography. He was a experienced traveler and often visited Switzerland and Italy to climb. Cunningham was a Scottish climber and an advocate of winter climbing in Scotland.

22 photogravure plates of guide portraits on heavy stock paper plus a dedication plate with a smaller b/w photo image.


Neate 197. Item #29178

Cunningham, Carus D, and William W. Abney. The Pioneers of the Alps. London: Sampson Law, Marston, Searle & Rivington, 1888.