Charles Schwartz Ltd. has put up a new Special Exhibit on I Photo Central on French-born Victor Prevost (1820-1881), who was one of the earliest photographers to work in New York City. His views of Central Park's construction that are in this online exhibit are exceedingly rare.
Prevost studied in France under Paul Delaroche, and learned complicated photographic printing techniques from fellow student, Gustave Le Gray. However, after setting up his own studio on Broadway and Bleeker Street (he emigrated here in 1850), Prevost failed to become a commercial success. His landscapes are a subtle and rather idiosyncratic mix of the documentary and aesthetic traditions. Aside from a show at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2003, his work has gone largely unknown by a contemporary public, although numerous large institutions have long collected his work.
What sing out in these rare albumen prints (along with the numerous architectural and structural details), is the queerly fresh feel--sans mature trees, skyscrapers and the like--of the nascent Central Park. Look for the temporary wooden staircase (used by artisans) in the foreground of the Terrace's main staircase; the planters (long since disappeared) on Bow Bridge; and the wooden houses Prevost captured on Central Park West, visible beyond the span of the Pine Bank Arch.
It is extremely rare to find Prevost prints in private hands. The bulk of the artist's oeuvre resides in the George Eastman House, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New York Historical Society (although the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C., among others, also own prints and negatives). These images were made in the latter part of the artist's career, and most are signed in the negative.
We have also continued to change images and add to our essays for all our Special Exhibits, so they are worth another peek, especially if you have not looked lately. And, if you see one you like, let a friend know too!
You can see these fine new exhibits and others (now a total of 61 Special Exhibits in all!) at: http://www.iphotocentral.com/showcase/showcase.php . Don't forget to check out the archived exhibits at the bottom of the page as well. And remember that there are many fine essays on the various photographers and topics represented by these Special Exhibits, some of them the most complete any where in the English language (or any other language for that matter). The essays can be accessed by simply clicking on the "About this Photographer" or "About this Exhibit" at the top left corner of the Special Exhibit main page.