NY State College of Agriculture
Education of Women
Commission on Country Life
Minnesota: Hoodoo Point
Record of Negatives
Ethel and Sal
Pumpkins of 1889
Pumpkins of 1889, Notes
Old Fashioned Garden
LHB with camera, 1948
When Liberty Hyde Bailey learned to use a camera in 1886, he did so not as a dilettante, but as a committed photographer. Although he continued to develop his photographic skills throughout his life, his primary goal was not to create outstanding images, but to document horticulture. Nevertheless, Bailey’s photographs-thousands of which have been preserved-testify to his innate aesthetic sense. Many of the images are simply works of art. In recent years, his photographs have been displayed in museums of art, including the Museum of Modern Art in New York City.
In general, Bailey’s approach to photography was measured and stately. He eschewed the snapshot for the carefully staged still life. His camera was not a handheld tourist’s device, but a large, heavy field camera, which required a tripod and long exposures. It accompanied him to greenhouses and farms just as it did on his trips to exotic destinations. In contrast, Bailey preferred to print his negatives as cyanotypes, in the quickest, simplest process available to him. He carefully numbered, collected and annotated the cyanotype prints in twenty-four albums, which he created between 1888 and 1910. Bailey’s images convey the pure beauty of the flora he cultivated, yet the timelessness and simplicity of his compositions resemble Italian Renaissance still life paintings more than they do horticultural studies.
|This exhibition is made possible through a generous gift in memory of Lelah A. Cole.
© 2004 Division of Rare & Manuscript Collections.