This amazing photograph was taken by one of our celebrated American photographers - Doris Ulmann. The photograph is of another great American artist - John Jacob Niles shown at the piano. Niles was a composer, singer and collector of American ballads who influenced the mid century revival of folk music. People like Joan Baez, Burl Ives and Peter, Paul and Mary recorded many of his songs. Starting in 1927, Doris Ulmann took John Jacob Niles on her travels to assist her. It worked well as he could collect ballads while Ulmann photographed her current project of photographing people in remote areas of Appalachia.
Doris Ulmann lived from 1882 to 1934 - she was born and also died in New York City. Her work is in many museums including the Smithsonian, the J. Paul Getty Museum, the New York Historical Society , and the Libraries' Special University of Oregon Collections. Her works include photographs of many celebrities including William Butler Yeats, Max Eastman, Sinclair Lewis, Martha Graham, Anna Pavlova, Paul Robeson, and Lillian Gish.
Doris Ulmann chose to use somewhat old-fashioned equipment for her time. She used a tripod-mounted view camera when most people had switched to light weight hand held cameras. She produced soft-focus platinum prints such as this one taken around 1930. It measures 6 1/2" by 8 1/2". The photograph is very well framed in a walnut frame measuring 14 1/2" by 16".
As you look at the photographs above - remember the glass over the photograph has reflections of my camera and so on that are hard to avoid. But this is a stunning piece of photography with a fascinating history.
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