Clarence Hudson White
The Large Hat
platinum print, 9 3/4" x 7 5/8"
Gift of the Estate of Julia Newell Marshall
Many aspiring photographers
of the 1910s and 1920s studied at the famous Clarence White
School of Photography in New York, among them Duluthian Julia
Newell Marshall, whose estate donated this, three other vintage
prints by White, and photographs by Marshall herself to the
Tweed Museum in 1999.
White practiced and taught “pictorialist” photography,
which is distinguished by its soft focus, muted tonal values,
and carefully posed subjects — resulting in images suggestive
of romance, mystery, and quiet drama. In contrast to the stark
realism of photo-journalism, which sought the “decisive
moment” in the sharply defined world of everyday life,
the pictorialist aesthetic resulted in a manipulation of its
subjects and settings in order to suggest wistful emotion.
Far from going about the business of everyday life, White’s
subjects, like the woman in The Large Hat, appear to be transfixed
and lost in private reverie. Besides their visual aesthetic,
the appeal of Pictorialist photographs often rises from our
curiosity about the subjects’ thoughts.