The Cup by Baron Adolph De Meyer
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Photogravure on Japanese paper mounted to period board
Mounted to archival board
Titled, dated and annotated, "C.W. #40", with artist's name, in pencil, au mount verso
Titled and dated, in ink, on label, adhered au archival board verso
Published in Camera Work October 1912, 40:5
The early life of Baron Adolph de Meyer (1868 – 1946) has been obscured by contradictory accounts from various sources (including himself); he was born in Paris or Germany, spent his childhood in both France and Germany, and entered the international photographic community in 1894-1895. He moved to London in 1896, where by 1899 his Pictorialist photographs had earned him membership in the Linked Ring, a society of Pictorialist photographers in Britain. In about 1900, he assumed the title of Baron; de Meyer’s wife Olga, claimed to be the illegitimate daughter of the Prince of Wales (later Edward VII). In 1903, de Meyer contacted Alfred Stieglitz and became associated with the Photo-Secession. He traveled to the United States in 1912; he was hired as Vogue’s first full-time photographer in 1914, and produced fashion layouts and photographed celebrities there until 1921, when he accepted a position at Harper’s Bazaar that allowed him to return to Paris. Although de Meyer had set a standard for elegance and style, his Pictorialist-inspired fashion photographs were seen as outmoded by the 1930s, and he was forced to leave Harper’s Bazaar in 1932. Unrest in Europe brought him back to the United States in 1939, and he spent his remaining years in Hollywood, where he died, virtually unknown and unappreciated, in 1946.
De Meyer was the preeminent photographer of Vaslav Nijinsky and the Ballets Russes, and a dedicated and skilled pioneer in the use of the autochrome process of color photography. A master of fashion photography and society portraiture, he captured an elegant and leisured world which vanished with World War II. His sophisticated photographs, although once out of favor, have become models for many contemporary fashion photographers.
– Source: International Center of Photography
The Cup is representative of the dreamy fashion photography that de Meyer would come to be known for as the first full-time photographer for Vogue, and then at Harper’s Bazaar. This photogravure print is from the October 1912 edition of Alfred Steiglitz’s Camera Work, a prominent and influential quarterly journal that had an editorial mandate to establish photography as a fine art.