SCARCE PHOTOGRAVURE PORTRAIT, BOLDLY PRESENTED AND INSCRIBED BY EDISON TO HOTELIER ALBERT R. KEEN AND HIS WIFE
EDISON, Thomas Alva. Photograph inscribed. No place, circa 1920. Photogravure, measuring 7 by 10 inches. $3900.
Scarce photogravure portrait of Edison by acclaimed New York photographer Walter Scott Shinn, inscribed and signed by him with a bold flourish on the mount to a prominent hotelier who catered to early 20th century society figures: "To Mr & Mrs Albert R Keen. Thos A Edison."
This is a wonderful photogravure portrait of "the patron saint of electric light" (Stross, Wizard of Menlo Park 1:284). The "father of many new industries, including phonograph and sound recording; dictating machines; electric lighting and associated electric utilities; electrical manufacturing; and motion pictures… Edison stands tall among the pantheon of American heroes" (ANB). This image was captured by Walter Scott Shinn, a successful and talented commercial photographer, and later used for a United States commemorative stamp. Shinn recalled that "the picture was taken on one of the four spare plates he had let after taking several family-group portraits, when Mrs. Edison suggested that he take her husband's picture alone. 'With tolerant expression, gazing into space, he seemed so far removed it seemed as though I would not be able to get a "live" picture of him… In desperation, I said, "We do not want another picture of you which looks like a taxdermist's job! Follow me with your eyes, and try to look as if there is 'somebody home'"… My frankness and enthusiasm aroused his interest. One picture [this one] was a winner'" (The Rotarian). This copy is inscribed to "Mr & Mrs Albert R Keen." Albert Keen was a prominent hotelier who maintained acquaintances with well-known early 20th century personalities such as Theodore Roosevelt and, of course, Thomas Edison. Docketed in pencil on verso.
Light soiling mainly visible in margins. An extremely good signed photogravure portrait.