Paul Augustus Martin, 1864-1944

19.10.2012 in11:37 in Documentary, Old Masters -->


(b Herbeuville, Alsace-Lorraine, 16 April 1864; d London, 7 July 1944). English photographer of French birth. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a wood-engraver. He took up photography as a hobby in 1884, though working as an engraver, using a Fallowfield Facile hand camera to take unusual snapshots of the Victorians bathing, paddling, or playing on the sand at Yarmouth in 1892 (London, V&A). The camera, camouflaged as a brown paper parcel, was held under the arm; Martin encased his in leather and improved its mechanism. He recorded street life in London by taking photographs of the sherbet- and water-sellers, Billingsgate fish porters and the police making an arrest. In 1896 he gained the Royal Photographic Society’s Gold Medal for his pioneering night photography. This preceded Alfred Stieglitz’s better-known scenes of New York. Martin’s Eros in Piccadilly Circus (1896; Austin, U. TX, Human. Res. Cent., Gernsheim Col.) required a 15-minute exposure with the lens shielded from the lights of passing traffic. He presented these as lantern slides, tinted yellow and blue to heighten the effect of the gas street lamps. His work provides a link between 19th-century pictorialism and 20th-century realism.


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