October 3, 04:15 PM GMT
70,000 - 100,000 USD
RÉSULTAT D’UNE EXPÉDITION PHOTOGRAPHIQUE SUR LE SOLIMÕES OU ALTO AMAZONAS ET RIO NEGRO
a group of 98 albumen prints from Résultat d’une expédition photographique sur le Solimões ou Alto Amazonas et Rio Negro (Rio de Janeiro: Georg Leuzinger, 1869), comprising plates 1-11, 13-22, and 24-100, each mounted, letterpress photographer's and printer's credits, title, annotations, and plate number on the two-toned mount, 1867-68, printed in 1869 (95 plates and one 3-plate panorama)
Albumen prints 9⅜ by 7⅜ in. (23.8 by 18.7 cm.) or the reverse
Panorama 7⅝ by 26¼ in. (19.4 by 66.7 cm.)
Mounts 17 by 12¾ in. (43.2 by 32.4 cm.) or the reverse
In 1871, Kaiserliche Hoheit Prinzessin Caroline and her son Königliche Hoheit Prinz Philipp acquired an album of 98 photographs of the flora, fauna, and indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon. These views, made in 1867-68 by the German photographer Albert Frisch, represent the earliest successful photographic expedition to Brazil’s Upper Amazon. This rare album, now in the archives of the Weltmuseum, Vienna, was believed to be the only complete set of such prints until the recent discovery of the remarkable group offered here. The present photographs, on the two-toned letterpress-captioned mounts as issued by publisher Georg Leuzinger in 1869, are believed to be the only such group in private hands. Additionally, this collection contains two photographs (plates 99 and 100) not represented in the Vienna album.
Albert Christoph Frisch was born in 1840 in the Bavarian city of Augsburg. Orphaned early in childhood, Frisch attempted several vocations (including confectioner) before seeking new life in South America, by way of Argentina. After a failed attempt as a print dealer, Frisch turned to photography in 1863, relocating the following year to Brazil’s cosmopolitan then-capital Rio de Janeiro where he gained employment in Leuzinger’s Officina Photographica.
In the years following the discovery of photography, Brazil experienced an internationally recognized golden age. Photography thrived under Emperor Dom Pedro II (1825-1891), a great admirer of the medium. Amidst an environment of economic development, Leuzinger commissioned Frisch to produce a series of photographs from the undisturbed Amazon. Frisch began his five-month journey in November 1867, negotiated nearly 1,000 miles by foot and by row boat (seen in plates 13 and 97), and produced more than 120 glass plate negatives. Working in the wet collodion process necessitated traveling with a portable laboratory, equipment, chemicals, and fragile glass plates. Frisch would have prepared the glass plates just moments before exposure, then developed the negatives in the field while they were still wet.
Upon his return to Rio de Janeiro, Frisch and Leuzinger edited the many negatives to a distilled series of 98 images, marketing the series ‘Résultat d'une expédition photographique sur le Solimões ou Alto Amazonas et Rio Negro.’ The photographs were available for purchase first at Leuzinger’s Rua do Ouvidor address and later at Frisch’s own studio in Berlin. The photographs are geographically sequenced, charting Frisch’s itinerary from Leticia, Tabatinga, São Paulo de Olivenza, and Tocantins to Fonte Boa, Tefé, Coari, Codajás, and Manaus. 35 plant species are documented, the captions for which marry scientific and informal commentary, and Amazon crocodiles and sea cows are among the animals represented. The greatest number of images, however, document the inhabitants, including those from Ticuna, Miranha, Caixana, and Umpqua tribes.
Many of the portraits are the result of layered or composite negatives. To produce photographs with sharp focus throughout, Frisch often photographed his sitters and their backgrounds separately. Frisch also ‘opaqued’ the backgrounds of certain negatives, particularly the studies of flora and fauna, ‘virtually transforming them into living sculptures’ (Pioneer Photographers of Brazil, p. 76). Frisch and Leuzinger experimented with various negative combinations, and slight variations in final images are evident when comparing extant examples of the same plates.
Frisch’s dedication to photography lasted a few short years and, in the intervening decades, he was all but written out of the history of the medium. In his essay ‘Commercial Photography from the Upper Amazon and Early Anthropology’ (Exploring the Archive: Historical Photograph[s] from Latin America, The Collection of the Ethnologisches Museum Berlin, 2015), to which this entry is indebted, Frank Stephan Kohl notes that the Amazonas photographs were often misattributed to Franz Keller-Leuzinger, the son-in-law of Georg Leuzinger, who himself made an important survey of the Rio Madeira area’s rail potential at the behest of the Brazilian government.
Selections of Frisch’s Amazon photographs are located at several institutions. 65 plates from the collection of researcher Alphons Stübel are in the collection of the Leibniz-Institut für Länderkunde, Leipzig. An album titled ‘Views in the Amazon Valley 1870,’ comprised of 50 photographs, is in the George Earl Church Collection at the Brown University Library, Providence. 27 photographs are in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, and 24 photographs, formerly in the collection of German anthropologist Paul Ehrenreich, are now at the Ibero-Amerikanisches Institut, Berlin. That they survive in institutional collections throughout Europe and the Americas is evidence both of their immediate commercial success and enduring historical importance.
At the time of this writing, it is believed that no other significant group of Amazonas photographs has appeared at auction.