A major gift of more than 700 historic photographs to the Metropolitan Museum of Art is poised to “rewrite the narrative of American photography,” said museum curator Jeff Rosenheim in a statement.
The cache of images dating from the 1840s to the 1910s comes from the storied collection of William Schaeffer, a specialist in 19th-century photography, and is a gift promised to the museum by trustee Philip Maritz and his wife Jennifer. The collection is now on view in the exhibition “2020 Vision: Photographs, 1840s–1860s,” on the occasion of the museum’s 150th anniversary.
The invention of photography, in 1839, predates the founding of the museum by three decades and the exhibition highlights its early achievements, such as salted paper prints, daguerrotypes, tintypes, cyanotopes, platinum, and gelatin silver prints. The works on view span a range of perspectives and experiments within the medium, including portraiture, landscape tableaux, and documentary works, giving insight into the world as seen through the eyes of early practitioners, as well as the process-based developments in the medium.
See images below from “2020 Vision: Photographs, 1840s–1860s,” on view at the Metropolitan Museum of Art through May 10, 2020
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