Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Vintage photograph by A.G. Pittaway

Last July 26th, I wrote about finding a "treasure trove" of 12 vintage photos of varying provenance. These photographs are windows to the past, and I set out to find out as much as I could about the photographs, specifically, about the photographer.
Pictured above are the front and back images on thick card stock measuring 4.25"x6.5". The photo of the woman measures 4"x5.5" on thin photographic paper meticulously pasted on to the card. The text underneath the photo is deep-embossed gold-toned lettering. The whole effect is a look of elegance, as befits an infrequent, and therefore treasured, occasion: a photo sitting. The photo would have been taken with a large format camera (4x5? or more likely with a 5x7) and the print looks like a contact print, judging from the sharpness of the image. Retouching was most likely done on the negative. The print processing is superb, with no discernable fading. Until the advent of the Kodak Brownie in the 1930's, the operation of a camera, and the subsequent processing, required expertise (and artistry). Photographs from that period have stood the test of time, with minimal fading and discoloration.
Alfred George Pittaway opened his first solo studio at 58 Sparks Street, Ottawa, after a brief partnership with Samuel J. Jarvis from 1882-1890. Ottawa was "infested" with photo studios in the latter half of the 19th century (the original tech boom), and Pittaway was a mainstay of that period. He died in 1935.
(with facts from

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