Focus Exhibit: A Naval Officer's Albums: Travel Photography in the 19th-century

July 7, 2014 — Oct. 27, 2014

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The Currier Museum of Art Reference Library and Archives presents a small scale exhibit of seven albums from the collection of Navy Rear Admiral Joseph Murdock (1851-1931). Admiral Murdock loaned several items to the Museum. Several years after his death heirs to Admiral Murdock donated his travel photography albums, along with several Japanese ceramics and textiles, to the Museum in 1951. Commercial photographs which were offered for sale to travelers and tourists dominate the albums with personal snapshots speckled throughout. 

Nearly half of the photographs in the albums represent Japanese people and landscapes both "en plein air” and in staged studio settings and were taken by established photographers working in the region, including Kusakabe Kimbei (1841-1934) a student of Felice Beato (1825-1904) and several unknown photographers. Images from Scotland, Venice and Egypt are also on view. One image entitled "Ascent of the Great Pyramid" is believed to the work of famed French photographer Félix Bonfils. 

Seven albums are on view along with assorted ephemera found tucked between the pages, including personal snapshots, postcards, correspondence and pressed flowers. Many of the photographs are excellent examples of the hand-coloring process popular during the period. 

Learn more about the library and archives collections which are open to the public here.