Amateur Art Photographers in 1896

Near the turn of the century, increasing numbers of American amateur art photographers were studying the works and principles of European master painters and sculptors, developing clubs and associations with other photographers to discuss techniques, and participating in exhibitions throughout the United States and abroad. The Smithsonian's Section of Photography acknowledged their role in the field, and continued to include examples of these amateurs in the collection.

Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. (1862-1932) is started taking photographs in 1884 while working at his father's engineering firm. In 1889, he joined the local camera club in Yonkers, New York, and began contributing articles on photographic chemistry, lighting and technique to journals like the Photographic Times. He turned professional in 1896, relying on commercial work for financial support while continuing to develop his skills as an art photographer.

Eickemeyer gained critical acclaim in America and Europe for his landscape and portrait photography. Shortly before his death, he gave the Smithsonian an endowment for the development of the Section of Photography and donated his photographs and equipment (his field kit is shown above). The Eickemeyer gift continues to provide for the expansion and preservation of the collection.

Rudolf Eickemeyer, Jr. his field kit

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