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Fred Holland Day (1864-1933)
Fred Holland Day (1864-1933)

Untitled (Maynard White/Sailor on Rock, Torso), c. 1910

Details
Fred Holland Day (1864-1933)
Untitled (Maynard White/Sailor on Rock, Torso), c. 1910
platinum print
annotations in pencil (verso)
image: 9 5/8 x 7 5/8 in. (24.5 x 19.9 cm.)
sheet: 10 x 7 7/8 in. (25.4 x 20.1 cm.)
Provenance
Lee Gallery, Winchester, Massachusetts, 2011.

Lot Essay

Mr. F. H. Day’s photographic art is an art full of delicacy, refinement and subtlety, an art full of deep thought and charm, full of dreamy fascinations.
Sadakichi Hartmann


Fred Holland Day’s fascination with the arts began at an early age. Upon graduation from the Chauncy Hall School in Boston, Day fraternized with individuals who shared his passion for literature, philosophy, culture and aesthetics to form a salon-style group called the Visionists. The group did not last long, but shortly thereafter, together with an associate Day formed a literary publishing house, propelled by the desire to expand the variety in subject and style that had been heretofore propagated by publishers. Drawing from the finest of materials and working with leading illustrators, Day’s publishing house distinguished itself for its artistic superiority. Independently, Day continued to explore the arts, most notably through photography. In keeping with the zeitgeist, Day followed the tenets of Pictorialism, the 19th Century movement that sought to elevate photography’s status to that of fine art. Day’s early images—from portraits to staged allegories and mythical creatures—were invariably rendered in superb delicacy and composition. In 1900 Day presented 'The New School of American Photography' in England, an ambitious exhibition comprised of the finest examples in Pictorialism. The exhibition was critically acclaimed, paving the path for Day as lecturer, writer and mentor for many budding photographers, adopting the role of a 'patriarch,' in his own words.

Throughout his photographic career, Day devoted considerable time to depictions of male youths. While earlier depictions were notable for their mythological resonance—subjects were often nude, classically posed and set in idyllic environs, his work throughout the 1910s was notably devoted to a more contemporary subject, the Sailor, as seen in the current lot. Etymologically, the term ‘sailor’ connotes a romantic preservation of a bygone era, when ships had been powered by sails. As a loner at sea, the sailor may have become a surrogate for the artist. Despite his fiercely protected privacy and reluctance to discuss his personal matters, Day was widely presumed to be gay (Pam Roberts, F. Holland Day.) Being the last subject that the artist would explore before ceasing to photograph in 1917, the sailor, as an endless solo wanderer with a romanticized love for nature and the great outdoors, became the perfect vessel for the artist’s self-reflection and 'Dreamy fascinations.'

The model for the photograph, Maynard White, was the middle son of Day’s fellow Pictorialist Clarence White. Although Maynard was one of several models who would pose as sailors for Day, (the others being James Giridlian and Tony Costanza), Maynard may have been a favorite. A 1911 cyanotype by the artist depicts Maynard and Day, seated side by side, in matching sailor suits.

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