A magnificent photography collection comes on line


Girl with Carnations, a c. 1915 autochrome by George Zoller.

Well, it’s beginning to, and what I see so far is very impressive. I just received a press release from the George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film that the acclaimed Rochester institution is putting a selection of its photography on Flickr’s The Commons, along with the Library of Congress, the Smithsonian, Brooklyn Museum, Australia’s Powerhouse Museum, and France’s Bibliothéque Toulouse.

Glass dish with classical figures, ceramic bowl and vase of flowers, by H. Wormleighton

There are 219 photographs on Flickr so far, out of their collection of over 400k, but I am sure many more will be added. I’m particularly interested in Eastman, because they are known for a longtime interest in nature and gardens; their gardens are famous and every year the institution holds a spring flower show, unusual for a museum. Not only that, they hosted the Heroes of Horticulture exhibition last year, and some other interesting shows related to the natural world. These photos are not for commercial use; they’re too lo-res for that, but they’re a great resource for education and entertainment, and have no copyright restrictions (with caveats).

The pictures above were made using the autochrome process, as explained here (from the press release): The process used a screen of tiny potato starch grains dyed orange-red, green and violet. Dusted onto a glass plate, the dyed grains were covered with a layer of sensitive panchromatic silver bromide emulsion. As light entered the camera, it was filtered by the dyed grains before it reached the emulsion. While the exposure time was very long, the plate could be processed easily by a photographer familiar with standard darkroom procedures. The result was a unique, realistic, positive color image on glass that required no further printing.

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Elizabeth Licata

Elizabeth Licata has been a regular writer for  Garden Rant since 2007, after contributing a guest rant about the overuse of American flags in front gardens. She lives and gardens in Buffalo, N.Y., which, far from the frozen wasteland many assume it to be, is a lush paradise of gardens, historic architecture, galleries, museums, theaters, and fun. As editor of Buffalo Spree magazine,  Licata helps keep Western New Yorkers apprised about what is happening in their region. She is also a freelance writer and art curator, who’s been published in Fine Gardening, Horticulture, ArtNews, Art in America, the Village Voice, and many other publications. She does regularly radio segments for the local NPR affiliate, WBFO.

Licata is involved with Garden Walk Buffalo, the largest free garden tour in the US and possibly the world,and has written the text for a book about Garden Walk. She has also written and edited several art-related books. Contact Elizabeth: ealicata at yahoo.com


  1. It is amazing to be able to look back (in color!) on that little girl wandering through a sunlit garden of flowers so long ago. My (almost) 90-year old mother was still 3 years from being born!:)

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