(Germany, England 30 Nov 1893 – 30 Jan 1985)
24.3 x 18.8 cm image; 24.8 x 19.2 cm sheet
Felix H Man was a pioneering photojournalist who, during the 1920s, contributed to the development of the photo-essay format, a narrative arrangement of images suggestive of the feel of cinema. He established his reputation photographing candid moments in the lives of important and powerful people for leading German pictorial magazines such as the ‘Münchner Illustrierte Press’ and the ‘Berliner Illustrierte’. Man’s photo essay ‘A Day in the Life of Mussolini’ 1931, was widely published and was used by the Italian dictator to project an image of himself as ‘a man of the people’. Following his immigration to Britain in 1934, Man photographed for newspapers and magazines, joining the staff at ‘Picture Post’ where he was chief photographer from 1938 to 1945. In his words: ‘My camera was, nearly always, the only one at an important private or public function. My little glass eye was at home everywhere, in the palaces of Heads of State, or in the miserable homes of the penniless hand weavers.’1
To form the photo essay ‘They hunt the stag’, which was published by ‘Picture Post’ in 1950, Man amassed ‘slice-of-life’ images like ‘Untitled (Mme Comete arrives with Mrs Whitridge for the service in the church. Their horses are bound in blue and silver)’ which revealed the royal sport at Chantilly to be a highly structured and ritualised series of events, as well as a spectacle. Through attention to details, such as the formal costumes and decorated French horns worn by the two women, Man’s candid approach to the subject matter, along with his use of bold symmetrical composition in the foreground, sharp focus and unusual angle allows him to offer the British public a more creative and irreverent interpretation of the aristocracy: one that reinforces their exclusivity and otherness as a social group, yet in doing so renders them somewhat absurd.
1. Crombie I 1991, ‘Felix H Man: a pioneer of photojournalism’, National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne np
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
Martyn Jolly, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'International photo-documentary', pg.151-167, Sydney, 2007, 162 (illus.).