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Guide to the Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection
[1895]-1942(Bulk 1906-1927)
  PR 19

New-York Historical Society
170 Central Park West
New York, NY 10024
Phone: (212) 873-3400


© 2011 New-York Historical Society

Collection processed by Chris Borris

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit on November 10, 2011
Description is in English.

Descriptive Summary

 
Creator: Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942
Title: Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection
Dates [inclusive]: [1895]-1942, (Bulk 1906-1927)
Abstract: The Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection primarily contains examples of Genthe's early work in San Francisco's Chinatown, later portraits of well-known personalities in the arts, politics, and society, classic photographs of Isadora Duncan and other early modern dancers, and both color and black-and-white landscapes of Long Island and Westchester, New York, and of international destinations such as Guatemala and Japan.
Quantity: 33.34 Linear feet
Location note: Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections
Call Phrase: PR 19

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Biographical Note

Photographer Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) emigrated in 1895 from his native Germany to San Francisco, California. A doctoral student of classical philosophy in Germany, Genthe impulsively decided, on the cusp of an academic career, to take a position as a tutor in San Francisco for a year. He fell in love with the city and ended up settling there, teaching himself photography and quickly gaining recognition for his views of Chinatown street life. After 1906, he switched his artistic focus mainly to portraits circles.

Genthe's portrait photography really came into its own when he moved his studio to Manhattan in 1911. There he ran in society circles, with subjects and friends often one and the same. Some of the great theater and film actresses of the day appeared in his portraits (Greta Garbo, Mary Pickford, Julia Marlowe), as did socialites such as Mary Astor and artists and writers like Childe Hassam, Jack London, and Ezra Pound. Early modern dancers were a favorite subject of his as well, and he captured such pioneers as Isadora Duncan, Ruth St. Denis, and Anna Pavlowa as they pushed social and cultural boundaries.

Never married, Genthe was seen as something of a ladies' man - indeed, he seemed never to lack female subjects for his portraits, some photographed in states of undress that even now might be considered risqué. An early 20th-century cartoon by Haig Patigan shows Genthe with three young "Gibson Girls" and is titled "Herr Doctor Taking Peaches"; another illustration, by Maynard Dixon, shows Genthe behind the camera, seemingly working his magic on a young woman in a filmy gown. Yet Genthe was not known as a cad; he seemed to have a true appreciation of the beauty and intellect of women young and old alike. Once, when asked to name the most beautiful woman he had ever photographed, he surprised his questioner by telling him it was the actress Eleanora Duse - when she was 64.

Genthe's many travels (to Latin America, the Far East, and Europe, which he photographed as well), add to what seems to have been a charmed and exotic life. He published a number of books of photographs, including The Book of the Dance, Pictures of Old Chinatown, and Impressions of Old New Orleans. A friend once said to him, "You certainly are a queer duck - a Don Juan, a Hermit Monk, a Chinese Sage, a University Professor - all rolled into one." To this he replied: "Well, maybe. Of this I am sure: I have never been bored, and I daresay I have had as much out of life as is coming to any man."

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Scope and Content Note

The Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection spans the period from approximately 1895 to 1942 and primarily contains examples of Genthe's early work in San Francisco's Chinatown, later portraits of well-known personalities in the arts, politics, and society, classic photographs of Isadora Duncan and other early modern dancers, and both color and black-and-white landscapes of Long Island and Westchester, New York, and of international destinations such as Guatemala and Japan. The collection is divided into the following series: San Francisco Chinatown; Portraits; Landscapes; Dancers; Cats; and Negatives. Many of the prints are on Genthe's original mounts; about one-third are signed by Genthe and/or carry his studio label. When Genthe has given a photograph a title, that title is used. Otherwise, N-YHS has assigned a descriptive title, which appears in brackets, or has used the last and first names of the sitter for those portraits that are identified.

Arrangement

The collection has been arranged in the following six series:

  1. Series I: San Francisco Chinatown
  2. Series II: Portraits
  3. Series III: Landscapes
  4. Series IV: Dancers
  5. Series V: Cats
  6. Series VI: Negatives

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Flagg, James Montgomery, 1877-1960 -- Portraits
  • Garbo, Greta, 1905- -- Portraits
  • Genthe, Arnold, 1869-1942
  • Hassam, Childe, 1859-1935 -- Portraits
  • London, Jack, 1876-1916 -- Portraits
  • Millay, Edna St. Vincent, 1892-1950 -- Portraits
  • Morgan, J.P. (John Pierpont), 1867-1943 -- Portraits
  • Pickford, Mary, 1892-1979 -- Portraits

Document Type

  • Negatives
  • Photographic prints
  • Portraits
  • Self-portraits
  • Transparencies

Subject Topics

  • Actors -- Portraits
  • Artists -- Portraits
  • Authors -- Portraits
  • Cats -- Photographs
  • Celebrities -- Portraits
  • Chinese -- California -- San Francisco -- Photographs
  • Dancers -- Portraits
  • Portrait photography
  • Streets -- California -- San Francisco -- Photographs

Subject Places

  • Chinatown (San Francisco, Calif.) -- Pictorial works
  • Europe -- Description and travel -- Views
  • Guatemala -- Description and travel -- Views
  • Japan -- Pictorial works
  • Long Island (N.Y.) -- Description and travel -- Views
  • New Orleans (La.) -- Description and travel -- Views
  • New York (N.Y.) -- Pictorial works
  • Salt Lake City (Utah) -- Description and travel -- Views
  • White Sulphur Springs (W.Va.) -- Description and travel -- Views

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Administrative Information

Provenance

A purchase, in 1943, from the estate of Arnold Genthe accounts for the bulk of the collection. Several prints of unknown provenance were donated at some point in the latter half of the 20th century to the New-York Historical Society. The Library of Congress donated the collection of nitrate and glass negatives to the N-YHS in 1954 and 1957.

Access Restrictions

Open to qualified researchers.

Photocopying undertaken by staff only. Limited to ten exposures of stable, unbound material per day. (Researchers may not accrue unused copy amounts from previous days.) Researchers on site may print out unlimited copies from microfilm reader-printer machines at per-exposure rates. See guidelines in Reading room for details.

Use Restrictions

Permission to quote from this collection in a publication must be requested and granted in writing. Send permission requests, citing the name of the collection from which you wish to quote and a transcription of your quote, to

Library Director
The New-York Historical Society
Two West 77th Street
New York, NY 10024

The copyright law of the United States governs the making of photocopies and protects unpublished materials as well as published materials. Unpublished materials created before January 1, 1978 cannot be quoted in publication without permission of the copyright holder.

Preferred Citation

This collection should be cited as: Arnold Genthe Photograph Collection, PR 019, Department of Prints, Photographs, and Architectural Collections, The New-York Historical Society.

Related Material

The bulk of the photographs and negatives found in Genthe's studio at his death are now at the Library of Congress, Prints and Photographs Division. Several thousand negatives are also housed at the Museum of the City of New York. Many museums and libraries around the country, including the California Historical Society, have prints by Genthe.

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Container List

Series I: San Francisco Chinatown

Scope and Contents note

Series I is a collection of street scenes taken between about 1895 and 1906, during Arnold Genthe's residence in San Francisco. The earliest dated print is from 1898; most are approximately 13 by 9 inches in size. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by title or description.

All of the prints feature Chinese Americans going about their daily lives on the streets of Chinatown. Many photographs are of children, captured alone or with adults, often dressed in ornate, imperial-Chinese clothing (adults are generally not attired in this ornate clothing). One whimsical shot shows a gay parade of Chinese children marching through the streets, each holding onto the long braid of the child preceding him. Another shot captures two elaborately dressed children, standing in front of a porcelain-vase shop, about to cross the street; behind them, people mill about and, in a quintessential San Francisco scene, a streetcar descends a steep cobblestone street. A third striking photograph, titled "Dead to the World," depicts a down-and-out man seated on a grimy stair in a back alley, eyes closed. In Genthe's book of photographs on Chinatown (text by Bill Irwin), this print is captioned "The Hop Fiend," a reference to people like this man who were hooked on opium, the street drug of choice in turn-of-the-century Chinatown. Genthe also took a number of other photos (not in this series) depicting the seamier and sometimes criminal side of San Francisco's Chinatown.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 1 Folder : 1 "A Corner Crowd - Chinatown, San Francisco, 1898"

General note

13-1/8 x 10-1/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe" includes his studio label

1898
Box: 1 Folder : 2 "Dead to the World"

General note

13-1/16 x 10-1/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 3 [Four children walking down street holding one another's braids]

General note

9-1/8 x 12-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 4 "In Old Chinatown, San Francisco"

General note

12-11/15 x 8-3/4 inches

undated
Box: 1 Folder : 5 "In San Francisco's Chinatown, 1900"

General note

13-3/16 x 9-7/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe"; includes his studio label

1900
Box: 1 Folder : 6 [Man holding baby, with another man and two children]

General note

11-3/8 x 8-1/8 inches

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 7 [Man with two children in imperial costume]

General note

13-3/8 x 8-15/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 8 [Small boy leaning against door post]

General note

13-1/16 x 9-1/4 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; "San Francisco, Chinatown" inscribed on verso

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 9 [Two children in imperial costume in front of vase shop]

General note

8-13/16 x 13-5/16 inches

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 10 [Two men, one in imperial costume]

General note

13-7/16 x 7-1/4 inches

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 11 [Two young children in imperial costume]

General note

12-13/16 x 6-1/4 inches

undated
Box: 2 Folder : 12 [Woman with child in imperial costume]

General note

12-7/8 x 10-1/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated

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Series II: Portraits

Scope and Contents note

Series II encompasses the better part of Arnold Genthe's career as a photographer, and fills Boxes 3 through 9. Arranged alphabetically by sitter. Unidentified persons are listed at the end, alphabetically by description.

Genthe began shooting portraits while still living in San Francisco, in 1906; most of his portraiture, however, was done in New York City, where he resided from 1911 until just before his death in 1942. Some of the portraits are classic studio shots, the subjects posed with studio draping (satiny or filmy wraps for the women) against curtained backdrops. These more "serious" portraits include such society and political luminaries as Mary Astor, Sara Delano Roosevelt, and Harry S. Truman, the latter a color portrait (probably taken between 1935 and 1942) in which the then-U.S. senator is seated in a garden with Josef Stalin and other leaders. Actors and artists figured largely both as Genthe's subjects and as his friends, and these portraits are among his most playful and affectionate. Henry Miller mugs in Revolutionary-era costume. A young Jack London, in white shirt and tie, is handsome and rumpled, looking thoroughly modern. Mary Pickford is all flowers and lace, very much "America's Sweetheart." The actress Jeanne Eagels, in flowing robe, laughs with delight as she holds aloft a small dog. A bearded Ezra Pound looks fierce and independent, an artist of no pretension sitting for his portrait in plaid shirt and woolly vest. But perhaps most striking and enduring in this series are Genthe's portraits of Greta Garbo and Edna St. Vincent Millay. The great Garbo is, as ever, her dramatically aloof self; in one exquisite shot she is seen in profile, head tilted back, neck impossibly long; in another, she faces forward, a tragedian with hand grasping throat. The poet and playwright Edna St. Vincent Millay, in an early portrait, is luminous in a simple, sailor-style linen dress, framed by a magnolia tree in bloom. Prints in the series range from about 6 by 5 inches to 17 by 14 inches.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 3 Folder : 13 Anglin, Margaret

General note

12 x 8-7/8 inches

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 14 "Anita Zahn in a Garden" [color print]

General note

7-1/4 x 8-13/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

See also: Box 13, Folder 104

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 15 Arden, Elizabeth

General note

13-1/16 x 8-1/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 16 Astor, Mary

General note

12-1/2 x 8-1/16 inches

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 17 Atherton, Gertrude

General note

12-15/16 x 9-3/4 inches

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 18 Austin, Mary

General note

13-3/8 x 9-7/16

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 19 Campbell, Mrs. Patrick (Beatrice Stella Cornwallis-West)

General note

9-1/8 x 11-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 20 Chaliapin, Fyodor [being sculpted by Davidson, Jo]

General note

8-7/8 x 13-1/8 inches

undated
Box: 3 Folder : 21 Chaliapin, Fyodor [with three other Russian artists]

General note

8 x 11 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 22 Chatterton, Ruth

General note

12-10/16 x 8-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 23 Cole, George Watson

General note

9-9/16 x 7-1/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

1920, Mar. 6
Box: 4 Folder : 24 Cowl, Jane

General note

12-3/16 x 8-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 25 Day, Juliette [in play Yellow Jacket]

General note

13-3/16 x 9-7/8 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 26 Dragonette, Jessica

General note

13-3/8 x 8-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 27 Eagels, Jeanne

General note

12-1/2 x 8-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 28 Eames, Emma

General note

12-15/16 x 8-3/16 inches

undated
Box: 4 Folder : 29 Galsworthy, John

General note

13-3/8 x 9-7/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; "early 1940s" inscribed on verso

[1940-1942]
Box: 5 Folder : 30 Garbo, Greta [facing front]

General note

13-3/16 x 9-5/8 inches ; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 31 Garbo, Greta [left profile]

General note

12-7/8 x 9-5/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 32 Garbo, Greta [left profile]

General note

17-1/16 x 13-5/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 33 Garbo, Greta [hand at throat]

General note

11-5/16 x 10-1/16 inches

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 34 Hassam, Childe

General note

13-1/2 x 9-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 35 Kennedy, Madge

General note

11-3/8 x 8-7/8 inches

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 36 Ladd, Schuyler [in play "Yellow Jacket"]

General note

12-13/16 x 9-11/16 inches

undated
Box: 5 Folder : 37 Landi, Elissa

General note

12-5/8 x 8-5/16 inches; Genthe's studio label on verso

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 38 Le Gallienne, Eva

General note

10-1/4 x 7-13/16 inches

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 39 London, Jack

General note

13 x 10-1/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 40 Losch, Tilly

General note

12-15/16 x 10-3/8 inches

See also: Box 12, Folders 96 and 97

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 41 Louise, Anita

General note

12-13/16 x 8-7/8 inches

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 42 Margo

General note

12-11/16 x 8-15/16 inches

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 43 McCormack, John

General note

13-1/4 x 10-1/8 inches

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 44 Millay, Edna St. Vincent

General note

12-9/16 x 10 inches

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 45 Miller, Henry [in Revolutionary-era costume]

General note

9-3/4 x 4-1/2 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, S.F."; autographed by Miller

undated
Box: 6 Folder : 46 Miller, Henry

General note

9-13/16 x 4-7/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, S.F."; autographed by Miller

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 47 Mollison, Amy

General note

13 x 9-5/16 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 48 "New Orleans Mammy"

General note

13-1/16 x 9-7/16 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 49 O'Brien-Moore, Erin

General note

13 x 8-3/4 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 50 Pickford, Mary

General note

13-1/4 x 8-7/8 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 51 Pickford, Mary

General note

13-1/4 x 9-13/16 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 52 Pound, Ezra

General note

13-1/2 x 10-1/8 inches

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 53 Roosevelt, Sara Delano (Mrs. James)

General note

13-1/4 x 10-1/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 7 Folder : 54 Roosevelt, Sara Delano (Mrs. James)

General note

13-7/16 x 9-13/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 55 Sharaff, Irene [Black-and-white print]

General note

13-1/4 x 9-3/4 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 56 Sharaff, Irene [Half-tone print]

General note

6-3/8 x 4-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 57 Stokowski, Leopold

General note

13-1/4 x 9-3/4 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 58 Terry, Ellen, Dame

General note

13-7/16 x 10-3/16 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 59 Truman, Harry S. [with Stalin and other leaders; color print],

General note

8-3/16 x 10-5/16 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 60 Wald, Lillian D.

General note

9-1/2 x 7-1/4 inches

undated
Unidentified
Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 8 Folder : 61 [Actor, portraying Cardinal Richelieu?; color print]

General note

9-9/16 x 7 inches

undated
Box: 8 Folder : 62 [Actress; half-tone print]

General note

7-1/4 x 5-1/16 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 63 "Chinese Theatre, New York"

General note

10-7/8 x 12-9/16 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 64 [Chinese woman and child; color print]

General note

8-1/2 x 5-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 65 [Man in costume, Chinese Theatre, N.Y.]

General note

13-9/16 x 10-1/4 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 66 [Man in naval uniform]

General note

9-1/8 x 5-1/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe"

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 67 [Turn-of-the-century woman with baby]

General note

8-15/16 x 5 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 68 [Two girls; color print]

General note

7-1/4 x 8-9/16 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 69 [Two girls; color print]

General note

7-7/16 x 9-1/8 inches

undated
Box: 9 Folder : 70 [Woman with Chinese scroll; half-tone print]

General note

6-1/2 x 4-15/16 inches; "Arnold Genthe" typeset below print

undated

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Series III: Landscapes

Scope and Contents note

Series III is arranged into two subseries: Domestic Views - United States; and Foreign Views - Guatemala; thereunder it is arranged alphabetically by title or description of view. Each subseries is distinct in both style and composition (Domestic Views are in color, Foreign Views in black and white), having been taken at very different points in Genthe's career; the uniting factor is that both are of landscapes.

Domestic Views - United States are among the last prints Genthe made. In these, he experiments with the newest photographic technique, color photography, which was introduced for transparencies in 1935, just seven years before Genthe's death. It is estimated, then, that these were all taken between 1935 and 1942. Prints range from about 6 by 9 inches to 10 by 8 inches.

In contrast to Genthe's culturally significant shots of turn-of-the-century Chinatown or his dramatic portraits of actresses, dancers, and socialites, these prints are rather less accomplished from a technical point of view. Most are of gardens and trees, a friend's terrace, and a rolling landscape. Only one was taken at night, a colorful explosion of fireworks over the water.

Foreign Views - Guatemala appear to have been taken in 1927 (most of the photos are dated as such). The prints range from approximately 6 inches by 8 inches to 9 1/2 inches by 8 inches. It is likely they were shot in the city of Antigua, which, as Genthe notes in his autobiography, he was "particularly eager to explore"; the mountains in the background of several photographs further indicate this may be Antigua, a city that is set in a valley and surrounded by volcanic mountains. Many of the ten photographs in this subseries feature half-ruined cathedrals. In addition to capturing the ruined churches, Genthe also records some scenes of daily life in 1920s Guatemala: a man leading his oxen as they haul a cart; a woman (parcels balanced on her head) walking with a small boy past a cathedral; a barely clothed child standing on a dock at the edge of the water, palm trees waving overhead.

Domestic Views - United States

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 10 Folder : 71 "Autumn Maple"

General note

6-3/4 x 9-1/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 72 [Blooming rhododendrons]

General note

7 x 9-5/16 inches

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 73 [Fair or expo building with palm trees and U.S. flag]

General note

8-5/8 x 5-5/8 inches; original hanging mount from 1940 exhibition included in folder

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 74 [Fireworks over the water]

General note

7-3/16 x 5-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 75 [Garden]

General note

9-9/16 x 7-3/8 inches

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 76 [House and lily pond]

General note

5-7/8 x 8-13/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 77 "In the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia"

General note

7-5/16 x 9-3/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 78 "Lake at Myron C. Taylor's Country Place"

General note

5-7/16 x 8-3/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 79 "Terrace in the Albert Herter Garden"

General note

7-1/2 x 9-5/16 inches

undated
Box: 10 Folder : 80 "The Woodhouse Water Garden"

General note

9-3/8 x 7-9/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

undated

Foreign Views -- Guatemala

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 11 Folder : 81 [Child on dock, palm trees]

General note

8-7/8 x 6-5/8 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 82 [Cupola of cathedral]

General note

8-15/16 x 7-1/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

undated
Box: 11 Folder : 83 [Debris inside ruined cathedral]

General note

9-7/16 x 7-7/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 84 [Interior of ruined cathedral]

General note

9-3/8 x 7-5/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 85 [Man with oxen]

General note

7-3/16 x 9-1/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 86 [Men in overgrown courtyard]

General note

7-1/16 x 9-3/8 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 87 [Statue of Western female figure]

General note

9-1/16 x 7-5/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 88 [Stone cathedral]

General note

6-1/4 x 8 inches; "Guatemala" inscribed on verso

undated
Box: 11 Folder : 89 [Trees in front of cathedral]

General note

6-15/16 x 9-1/16 inches; "Guatemala, 1927" inscribed on verso

1927
Box: 11 Folder : 90 [Woman and boy carrying parcels past cathedral]

General note

9-5/8 x 7-9/16 inches; "Guatemala" inscribed on verso

undated

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Series IV: Dancers

Scope and Contents note

Series IV contains prints that are among Genthe's most poetic and purely artistic. They capture a watershed moment in dance performance, when the aesthetic began to change from classical to modern; these developments are exemplified most dramatically by the shots of Isadora Duncan and her dancers, the Marion Morgan Group, and the Ritual Dancers of St. Mark. While to modern eyes some of the props and articulations - the flowing Grecian robes, the urns and "palace" settings, maidens frolicking through the woods - may border on parody, they represent something revolutionary: a breaking free of Victorian constraints, a sudden liberty of the female form. Two rather more sophisticated photographs, of Anita Zahn and Margaret Severn dancing at ocean's edge, utilize the same "exotic" costuming (flowing, sheer robes) and naturalistic setting. The remainder of the prints are rooted more in the theater: Tilly Losch and Harald Kreutzberg in "Orientalist" pose and costuming (another popular aesthetic in the early 20th century); Uday Shan-Kar and Simkie, who brought traditional Indian dance to Manhattan; and the well-known "La Argentina" (Antonia Merce), in classic flamenco pose. The prints in the series range from about 9 by 7 inches to 13 by 10 inches; all are black and white. Photographs are arranged alphabetically by last name, title, or description.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 12 Folder : 91 Duncan, Isadora

General note

10-1/4 x 13-3/8 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 92 [Group of five dancers]

General note

11-2/16 x 16-3/16 inches

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 93 [Group of six dancers]

General note

10-7/16 x 12-11/16 inches

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 94 [Group of three dancers]

General note

10-1/2 x 13-11/16 inches; stamped "Vanity Fair" on verso

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 95 "La Argentina" (Merce, Antonia)

General note

13-1/4 x 9-1/4 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 96 Losch, Tilly, and Kreutzberg, Harald

General note

13-5/16 x 9 inches; includes Genthe's studio label

For Tilly Losch, see also Box 5, Folder 40

[1906-1927]
Box: 12 Folder : 97 Losch, Tilly, and Kreutzberg, Harald

General note

13 x 8-1/2 inches; includes Genthe's studio label

For Tilly Losch, see also Box 5, Folder 40

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 98 "Marion Morgan Group"

General note

9 x 11-13/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 99 "Ritual Dancers of St. Marks"

General note

12-15/16 x 9-7/8 inches; "Guthrie Dancers," an alternate name, inscribed on verso

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 100 Severn, Margaret [dancing at water's edge]

General note

12-3/8 x 9-5/8 inches

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 101 Shan-Kar, Uday, and Simkie

General note

13 x 9-13/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 102 [Single dancer]

General note

13-1/4 x 8-1/4 inches

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 103 [Two dancers]

General note

9-1/16 x 6-7/8 inches

[1906-1927]
Box: 13 Folder : 104 Zahn, Anita [dancing at water's edge; color print]

General note

7-3/4 x 6-1/4 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."

[1906-1927]

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Series V: Cats

Scope and Contents note

Series V contains only four prints, though each appears to be quite lovingly composed, attesting to Genthe's admitted lifelong passion for felines. None of the prints are dated, but given other factors and events in Genthe's life, it is estimated they were shot in the 1920s. The prints are approximately 10 inches by 13 inches, or the reverse, and are arranged alphabetically by title. Genthe's adored cat Buzzer (he had four to whom he gave that name) is featured in at least two of the photographs: One has Buzzer curled up on a chair, resting his head on a Chinese doll that is almost his size; the other shows Buzzer contentedly lounging on a couch. A third shot is of a cat (possibly Buzzer) perched atop wine barrels, sun and shadows playing off barrels and cat. The fourth was taken of a cat in a courtyard in New Orleans, when Genthe visited that city in the early 1920s and took a number of architectural shots.

Container 1 Container 2   Title Date
Box: 14 Folder : 105 "Buzzer"

General note

8-11/16 x 13-7/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1919-1929]
Box: 14 Folder : 106 "Cat and Wine Barrels"

General note

13-7/16 x 10-3/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1919-1929]
Box: 14 Folder : 107 "Friends" [cat and Chinese doll]

General note

10 x 13-3/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1919-1929]
Box: 14 Folder : 108 "In a New Orleans Courtyard"

General note

12-3/8 x 9-11/16 inches; signed "Arnold Genthe, N.Y."; includes his studio label

[1919-1929]

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Series VI: Negatives

Scope and Contents note

Series VI contains numerous subjects in more than 3,200 nitrate and acetate negatives, though only a handful match up with the vintage prints in this collection - perhaps not surprising considering these were a separate acquisition from the Library of Congress. The series includes personalities such as Greta Garbo and J. P. Morgan; Genthe on horseback; numerous sitters for studio portraits; San Francisco's Chinatown; New York City buildings in 1931 and Central Park; Long Island houses, gardens, and hunting grounds; White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia; views of New Orleans, Guatemala, Japan, and various locales in Europe; and dance groups, including Isadora Duncan's troupe and the Marion Morgan group. Dated negatives span 1913-1942, but the size of the Chinatown film negatives suggests that they may be the original 1890s exposures taken with a handheld camera.

An item list is not available for this series, which contains more than 3,200 items, many of which are duplicates or near-duplicates. However, a database is available for browsing. Probably most useful to researchers is the ability to search by name of sitter or by subject. Of the latter, subjects used for the Genthe's photographs are used in the database as well, in addition to several added subjects: Buildings, Interiors, Art Objects, Documents, and Events.

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