Among the tenets of the "aesthetic" or Pictorialist photography was the idea that the subject and the manner in which it was depicted should be artistic (as defined by traditional and academic art circles) and not merely a record. In other words, typical themes for representation would be landscapes, genre scenes, and intimate portraiture presented in a way that resembles one of the "higher arts" such as painting or drawing. Popular methods for achieving these effects included alternative photographic media such as gum bichromate, bromoil, and oil-transfer printing, which allowed for direct artistic intervention (areas of the print could actually be painted out during production). With its intimacy and technique, this charming gum print of Kuhn’s children is representative of these Pictorialist aesthetics. Kuhn is perhaps best known for his masterly control of the gum bichromate process, which in its various guises can mimic a lithograph, a watercolor, or a mezzotint.


  • Title: Walter und Lotte an der Staffelei
  • Creator: Heinrich Kühn
  • Date: 1909
  • Physical Dimensions: w35.9 x h47.6 cm (sheet)
  • Type: Photograph
  • External Link: MFAH
  • Medium: Gum bichromate print
  • Credit Line: The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, The Sonia and Kaye Marvins Portrait Collection, museum purchase funded by Sonia and Kaye Marvins

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