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August 10, 2005

Miniature Holiday

Kelly is at camp. To take advantage of that, I took today off, and Jean and I attended the Portland Art Museum. There were several nice travelling exhibits. We lingered over the exhibit of silver coffee and tea services. John Singer Sargent's portraits of children contained several large portraits that were quite striking. I enjoyed the Han and Chu dynasty artifacts, and of course visited the regular collections for my infrequent fix of Childe Hassam.

But the item that really intrigued me was the collection of lantern slides from the Wulsin expedition to Tibet in 1923. This collection is from the Peabody Essex Museum. "As the young American couple Janet E. and Frederick R. Wulsin, Jr. traveled in China, Inner Mongolia and the borderlands of Tibet between 1921 and 1925, they joined the ranks of explorers drawn to the people, cultures, and geography of unfamiliar and distant places."

About 80 of the photographs they took were mounted on glass plates, then hand tinted by artists in Beijing familiar with the culture, using tiny sable brushes. They then mounted the painted glass plates between two protective plates and sealed them, to be used as lantern slides. Until I got to the plaque explaining this, I was trying to figure out what the tinting process was, since of course there was no color film at that time. This article contains some sample photos to give you an idea. These photos made my trip to the museum, and if you're in the area and into photography, you should really make the trip.

Posted by dpwakefield at August 10, 2005 04:49 PM

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