William H. Zerbe Blondin, Coney Island, NY
Medium Albumen print
Mount on original mount
Photo Date 1886 Print Date 1886
Dimensions 3-7/8 x 5-1/2 in. (98 x 140 mm)
Photo Country United States (USA)
Photographer Country United States (USA)
Contact Alex Novak and Marthe Smith
About This Image
The famous tightrope walker Blondin.
Born in Brooklyn in 1864-65, William H. Zerbe was a staff photographer for the New York Herald Tribune for over 20 years and was called the "dean of newspaper photographers of New York." He began his foray into photography though in the 19th century, initially working in the camera shop of Andrew Prosch, whose brother George claimed to have constructed the first camera used in the U.S. He began to photograph in 1884, according to an article in a May 1941 issue of Popular Science. He experimented with many different types of photo media, including albumen, platinum, oil, bromoil, gum and carbon prints. Zerbe was an active participant in the salons from the 1920s to 1940s.
For over 30 years years Zerbe taught one of the first courses in photography at the Brooklyn Institute, beginning in 1911 and lasting into the 1940s. Some of the other photographers who taught or lectured with him and/or exhibited work there included Edward Weston, Clarence White, Gertrude Kasebier, Arnold Genthe, Alice Boughton, Karl Struss, C. Yarnell, William J. Mullins, Ema Spencer, Imogen Cunningham, Clara Sipprell and Paul Anderson. He was a fellow and director of the Photographic Society of America and a fellow of the Royal Photographic Society. The Camera Club of New York exhibited his work in 1936, and some of his work was published in the 1922 Pictorial Photographers of America Annual and the 1904 Photographic Times Bulletin. A photo group by Zerbe was exhibited at the Eastman Kodak salon, at the 1939 New York World's Fair. In 1940 one of his photographs was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum's 50th Annual Exhibition of Photographs. He died in January 1943 at the age of 78.
His photographs are in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum and the Archives of American Art (Smithsonian Institute).
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