Mushrooms by the Sea Stieglitz, Alfred  (American, 1864-1946)

An early photograph by Alfred Stieglitz, taken on the Lido, a resort island near Venice. The negative was made during Stieglitz’s honeymoon trip with his first wife, Emmeline, in 1893, was published as a photogravure by "The Photographic Times: 1895: July-December." It was printed by E.C. Meinecke in New York. The publication, by Frederick Gutekunst Co. of Philadelphia, published photogravures in the issue by: E.E. Barnard, Charles Berg, Alfred Clements, Constance Parsons, William B. Post and Stieglitz.

A sweetly sentimental departure from pioneering American photographer Alfred Stieglitz’s more well-known, serious oeuvre, Stieglitz captures an intimate moment between a mother and her small child playing in a shallow lip of water by the sea. The moment is fleeting: her foot is raised a bit as if she’s just reaching to find a treasure for the child to admire. The two of them wear woven hats that resemble, as the title suggests, the cheerfully upright caps of mushrooms. This small-format photogravure is from Stieglitz’s early career, published not long after he’d returned to New York from Germany to champion the camera as a tool of the fine art world.

This photogravure is from the journal generally known as generally known as The Photographic Times, one of America’s earliest and most important photographic journals. The Times first appeared as a supplement incorporated within the pages of the monthly Philadelphia Photographer, one of the first journals devoted to photography published in America beginning in 1864. By 1889 issues were accompanied by well executed hand-pulled photogravure plates which appeared regularly until 1904. Due to changes in ownership or marketing strategies the name changed at least four times over the course of its 45 year run making keeping track of the specifics very difficult. This publication was an invaluable reference for the ever expanding photography movement in America at the turn of the century and published samples by the likes of Alfred Stieglitz, Gertrude Kasebier and Alvin Langdon Coburn. Initially it was geared to the professional photographer as would be expected, since it was published by the Scovil Manufacturing Co.; the articles mirrored their concerns. Reviews and reports from photographic societies were a regular feature. First edited by Edward Wilson, the editorship transferred to John Thraill Taylor, who enlarged the scope in 1880, when it became The Photographic Times and American Photographer. By 1882, an original mounted photograph was inserted, and in 1887, the size was increased to a large quarto, and fine photomechanical illustrations began appearing. It was becoming the preeminent American journal.

First published in 1871 as a supplement of The Philadelphia Photographer. It absorbed The American Photographer in 1879 to become The Photographic Times And American Photographer. In 1902, it merged with Anthony’s Bulletin to form The Photographic Times Bulletin. This periodical is most commonly cited as “The Photographic Times, Photographic Times Publishing Association. [1]


[1] Many thanks to David Spencer for his research which can be found on (David Spencer, Photoseed)