Hour of Prayer Stieglitz, Alfred  (American, 1864-1946)

Scurrying Home (also known as Hour of Prayer) could teach many an artist what composition means. Two Dutch women crossing an open waste of sand, with the Katwyk Church, made famous by modern painters, in the distance. How interesting the texture of the foreground! How well its oblique lines cut those of the middle distance! How well the distance is managed! And how marvelously the figures are placed, considering that if they had been photographed one second sooner or later the picture would have been spoiled. Their movement is as natural as it can be; it suggests the breeziness of the weather; only the feet of the larger one are somewhat indistinct, and the skirts of both too opaque. It seems almost impossible in photography to attain Whistleresque subtleties of tone in a dark object. “Scurrying Home” is a landmark in the domain of camera art; and worth alone a trip to Europe. Many an artist after a three years’ sojourn abroad returns without being able to show half as much. “Scurrying Home” shows better than any other American photograph I know, the possibilities of artistic photography. (Sadichi Hartman).

Beginning in 1895 and ending in 1897, English professional copperplate etcher, engraver, and printer Walter L. Colls of London issued yearly portfolios of photogravures on behalf of The Linked Ring commemorating their annual Photographic Salon which debuted in 1893. Colls, an amateur photographer himself exhibiting his own work since at least 1885, etched and printed the very fine photogravures issued with these portfolios. Colls also taught the Peter Henry Emerson (who championed "Naturalistic Photography") how to print his own photogravures in the late 1880s. In addition, Colls etched the printing plates for photogravures that appeared in later issues of the English series Sun Artists in 1891. It is known that at least three separate Photographic Salon portfolios were issued for the years 1895, 1896 and 1897.

The very first issue of Camera Notes, published by The New York Camera Club and edited by Stieglitz in October of 1897 pronounced its‘ approval of The Photographic Salon 1895 portfolio: calling Colls photogravures capitally done, and the portfolio as a whole was one of which not only the Salon and Mr. Colls, but photography itself may be proud. [1] . Fully half of the images from this 1895 publication were later duplicated in issues of Camera Notes. The photogravures in Camera Notes were not only the same size as those in the salon portfolio, but also printed in similar ink colors. Stieglitz made no secret of his source for these images, crediting Colls and reviewing the portfolios in the magazine. [2]

This print is included in The Key Set in the collection of the National Gallery of Art.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Greenough, Sarah, and Alfred Stieglitz. Alfred Stieglitz: The Key Set : the Alfred Stieglitz Collection of Photographs. Washington, D.C: National Gallery of Art, 2002. Pl 218

Exhibited: The Camera Club, New York, “Exhibition of Photographs by Alfred Stieglitz,” 1–15 May, 1899 NY

Hartmann, Sadakichi. Landscape and Figure Composition. New York: The Baker and Taylor Company, 1910. fig. 114

Homer, William I, Catherine Johnson, and Alfred Stieglitz. Stieglitz and the Photo-Secession, 1902. London: Penguin Putnam, 2002

Stieglitz, Alfred, Richard Whelan, and Sarah Greenough. Stieglitz on Photography: His Selected Essays and Notes. New York, NY: Aperture Foundation, 2000. p. 56

Hoffman, Katherine. Stieglitz: A Beginning Light. New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004. no. 153

Jussim, Estelle. Slave to Beauty: The Eccentric Life and Controversial Career of F. Holland Day, Photographer, Publisher, Aesthete. Boston: Godine, 1981. p. 95

Homer, William I. Alfred Stieglitz and the American Avant-Guarde. Boston: New York Graphic Society, 1979. no. 6.

Photography: the first eighty years, Colnaghi, London, 1976, pg 212 New York Graphic Society, New York, 1977, pg 18


[1] Greenough, The Key Set 2002, Vol.2, p.936, footnote 23

[2] For an in depth overview of the Colls portfolios see: https://photoseed.com/collection/group/pictorial-photographs-a-record-of-the-photographic-salon-of-1895/

Camera Notes: The Official Organ of the Camera Club, New York: Edited by Alfred Stieglitz: New York: Vol 1., No. 2. October, 1897: p. 54

The Photogravure Process and Precedents for Camera Notes: in: Alfred Stieglitz’s Camera Notes. Christian A. Peterson: The Minneapolis Institute of Arts in association with W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.: New York | London: 1993: pp. 35-36

Hartmann, Sadakichi. Landscape and Figure Composition. New York: The Baker and Taylor Company, 1910.