Heinrich Kühn, ‘In Bacino di San Marco, Venezia’, circa 1898, Sotheby's

Signed in brown watercolor on the image, with title in pencil on the reverse, framed.

From the Catalogue:
Heinrich Kühn was introduced to the gum bichromate technique in December 1895 when he saw five prints by French photographer Robert Demachy at the Viennese Camera Club’s Christmas exhibition. Kühn was greatly impressed by prints made with the process, which resulted in softly focused, dreamy images that appear almost as if they were sketched or painted. Kühn took it upon himself to ‘conduct experiments in order to improve the technology’ (Heinrich Kühn in January 7, 1934, quoted in Astrid Mahler, ‘Heinrich Kühn – His Life and Work,’ in Monika Faber and Astrid Mahler, eds., Heinrich Kühn. The Perfect Photograph (Berlin, 2010), p. 228). He published his first article on gum bichromate in the October 1896 issue of the Wiener Photographische Blätter (a journal whose title loosely translates to ‘Viennese Photographic Sheets’) and exhibited his own gum bichromate prints in the International Exhibition of Amateur Photography in Berlin the same year.

The present photograph of Venice, made circa 1898, is an example of Kühn’s earliest efforts in gum bichromate, as well as his preoccupation with Atmospheric Impressionism (Stimmungsimpressionismus). Although primarily used to describe the popular style adopted by late 19th century German and Austrian painters, Kühn endeavoured to capture the same effect in his photographs. Much like an Impressionist painter attempts to evoke atmosphere through diffuse brushstrokes, so did Kühn utilize gum bichromate’s inherent qualities to communicate mood.

In 1911 Stieglitz devoted an issue of Camera Work to Kühn, one of only five photographers to have a dedicated issue of the magazine. The present photograph is reproduced in that issue.
—Courtesy of Sotheby's

Rochester, International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House, Particulars: Selections from the Miller-Plummer Collection of Photography, June - September 1983, and traveling thereafter to 2 locations through March 1984

Particulars: Selections from the Miller-Plummer Collection of Photography (Rochester, 1983), pl. 132 (this print)

Collection of George Eastman House
Collection of Harvey Shipley Miller and Randall Plummer, 1970s
Christie's New York, The Miller-Plummer Collection, 8 October 2009, Sale 2279, Lot 609

About Heinrich Kühn