AN “ALMOST INSURMOUNTABLE WALL OF SPIRALING STAIRS… ‘LIKE THE SURGE OF A GREAT WAVE”: NEWHALL’S FREDERICK EVANS
NEWHALL, Beaumont. Frederick H. Evans. Rochester: George Eastman House, (1964). Quarto, original gilt-stamped green cloth, original dust jacket. $250.
First edition of Newhall’s excellent monograph on Evans, whose architectural photography and superb craftsmanship made him “a pioneer in the formulation of the esthetics of pure photography,” with 19 photogravure plates, including Evans’ famous portrait of Aubrey Beardsley and his unforgettable 1903 image of Wells Cathedral, “A Sea of Steps.”
At the turn of the century, Frederick Evans “a retired London bookseller, practiced and preached a doctrine of pure photography” (9). Praised by Alfred Stieglitz as a figure who “stands alone… as the greatest exponent of architectural photography” Evans saw his work often showcased in Stieglitz’ Camera Work and at his gallery 291 (Camera Work). As seen in this handsome monograph by leading historian Beaumont Newhall, “Evans’ treatment of cathedral interiors in the 1890s was a relatively new departure in photography… In his famous photograph of 1903, A Sea of Steps, Wells Cathedral,” Evans’ camera looks upward toward an “almost insurmountable wall of spiraling stairs which, in its geometric progression, is ‘like the surge of a great wave,’ as Evans described it” (Frizot, 308). His portrait of “Aubrey Beardsley… is undoubtedly Evans’ most famous single image” (McDarrah, 132). Published coincident with a commemorative exhibit at the George Eastman House.
A fine copy.