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Prescott Adamson

Prescott Adamson was born in Germantown, Pennsylvania to William and Eleanor Francis Prescott Adamson on Christmas Day 1863. Little is known about his childhood or early adulthood until 1897, when he was living in Philadelphia and employed as a business manager. His interest in photography is evident at that time, when he became a member of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia, which exhibited his portraits in its salons from 1899 until 1901. In 1900, Mr. Adamson gave society members a fascinating lecture on the preparation of lantern slides and the applications of platinum toning. His technical knowledge was so revered by industry professionals that excerpts and editorials of them were reprinted in The Photographic Times, the British Journal of Photography, and the American Amateur Photographer. The results of his experiments on preparing plates were delivered to the technical committed of the Photographic Society of Philadelphia in 1901. It stated in part that uniformity could only be assured by using the Seed 26 plate, and that transparency could be achieved within seven minutes.

Mr. Adamson's friendship with Alfred Stieglitz led to his membership into the prestigious Photo-Secession, and his photographs were exhibited in its first show at the National Arts Club in New York in 1902 and in 1904 at the Corcoran Gallery of Art in Washington, DC and the Carnegie Institute in Pittsburgh. Mr. Adamson's atmospheric photogravures like "A Winter Night" frequently featured snow, buildings, and a haunting mist. The charming scene transports the viewer to a village bridge in the moonlight, and a sense of wonder at where the tracks in the snow might lead. His eye for detail and technical prowess are also evident in a portrait Mr. Adamson lovingly made of his young daughter, which was published in The Photographic Times in 1900.


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