Fred Holland Day was a close friend of Frederick Evans and a leading pictorial photographer in America. Day was instrumental in showcasing the new developments of pictorial photography to Britain. In 1900 he organised an exhibition ‘The new school of American photographers’, consisting of around 400 works, which he hung at the Royal Photographic Society in London. The exhibition broadened the awareness among British photographers of the potential of a symbolist aesthetic in pictorial practice. Evans, a keen observer and collector of symbolist art, would have no doubt been particularly interested to see such a school of photography, certain principles of which already operated in his own work.
Evans spent time with Day while he was in England for this exhibition and was introduced to his distant cousin – the young photographer Alvin Langdon Coburn. Coburn later recalled that ‘Holland had been in Algiers to make some “native” photographs and he returned with a number of Arabic costumes, and so one evening we dressed up in some of them, and went to call on Evans’.1 The visit resulted in the exquisite ‘Portrait of F Holland Day as a Moor’, where Evans cloaks the subject in a dramatic shadowed light to evoke the enticing exoticism and mystery of the perceived East.
1. Newhall B 1973, ‘Frederick H Evans’, Aperture, New York p 16
© Art Gallery of New South Wales Photography Collection Handbook, 2007
24.4 x 9.6 cm image/sheet; 27.1 x 11.5 cm card; 40.3 x 34.0 cm board
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Gift of the Sydney Camera Circle 1977
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 3 publications
Denise Mimmocchi, Photography: Art Gallery of New South Wales Collection, 'International pictorialism', pg.53-69, Sydney, 2007, 62 (illus.).
Slave to Beauty, United States of America, 1981, 156, 157.
The Enigmatic Object, Sydney, 1997.