In the Garden with John J. Mason

April 27, 2019 - September 8, 2019

Griswold House, 2nd floor

John J. Mason, Flowers Arranged by Japanese, 1911, Cibachrome print from autochrome. Gift of Clara (Mrs.
Malcolm) Taber, Newport Art Museum 2010.008.001

This exhibition features a selection of rare early color photographs taken by John J. Mason from 1909-1912. A retired physician from New York, Mason spent summers at his homes in Newport, Rhode Island and Bar Harbor, Maine. He made autochromes of gardens and landmarks in Newport and Bar Harbor, Central Park in New York, still life arrangements, and portraits of women outdoors. An early form of color photography invented by the Lumière Brothers, autochromes were made on glass slides and projected. The Museum owns 400 of Mason’s autochromes. As autochromes are fugitive, this exhibition features color reproductions of the original photographs. Mason exhibited his autochromes at the Museum in 1916, the same year that that Gertrude Vanderbilt Whitney exhibited her sculptures at the Museum. In addition to offering glimpses of Newport, Bar Harbor, and New York in the early twentieth century, these photographs also show the pervasive influence of Pictorialism—the American photography movement that espoused emulating paintings—on amateur photographers. Some of these images also reveal the nineteenth-century American attraction to Japanese art and objects.