Arnold Genthe Collection
Photographs by Arnold Genthe
Collection digitized? Genthe's negatives, transparencies
and autochromes have been digitized and are available in the Prints
and Photographs Online Catalog (when searching from outside the
Library of Congress, only thumbnail images display). Selected
images are included here to give a sample of the collection.
In 1943 the Library of Congress purchased the photographic materials
remaining in the studio of Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) at the time
of his death. Originally trained as a classical scholar, Genthe
taught himself photography soon after emigrating from Germany in
1895. The success of his photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown
led him to establish a local portrait studio. He became famous
for his impressionistic portrayals of society women, artists, dancers,
and theater personalities. Moving to New York in 1911, Genthe experimented
with the new Autochrome color process and executed one of the first
documentary commissions in color. The Library's collection of approximately
ten thousand negatives and eighty-seven hundred contact and enlargement
prints is the largest single collection of Genthe's work and contains
images from all periods of his career: the famed photographs of
Chinatown, which are probably the only negatives from his early
years to escape the 1906 San Francisco earthquake and fire; views
taken during his travels in Europe and Asia; photographs of Yosemite
and New Orleans; studies of dancers; and reproductions of painting
and sculpture. The greater part of the collection relates to portrait
commissions. Many sitters are listed in the division biographical
card index and keyed to the original negatives through Genthe's
logbooks. The original Genthe photoprints are kept with the master
photographs and grouped by subject. Also in the collection are
375 original color transparencies, some of which were the gift
of the Museum of Modern Art in 1947.
Catalog records for negatives, transparencies, and autochromes
in the collection can be searched in the Prints & Photographs
Online Catalog). The records are accompanied by digital images
(when searching from outside the Library of Congress, only thumbnail
Note: Information for this entry was compiled
in the late 1970's for inclusion in: Special Collections
in the Library of Congress: A Selective Guide. Compiled
by Annette Melville. Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1980.
The information has not been revised, except to include data about
digitized images and online catalog records.
U.S. Library of Congress. Reference Department. Guide to
the Special Collections of Prints & Photographs in the Library
of Congress (Washington: 1955. NE53.W3A52), compiled by
Paul Vanderbilt, no. 260-261.
Vanderbilt, Paul, "The Arnold Genthe Collection." Library of
Congress Quarterly Journal (Z881.U49A3). v. 8, May
1951: 13-18; reprinted in A Century of Photographs: 1846-1946,
Selected from the Collections of the Library of Congress (Washington:
1980 TR6.U62.D572), compiled by Renata V. Shaw.
U.S. Library of Congress. Prints and Photographs Division. Viewpoints,
a Selection from the Pictorial Collections of the Library of
Congress; a Picture Book by Alan Fern, Milton Kaplan, and the
staff of the Prints and Photographs Division, (Washington:
1975. 223 p. illus. E178.5.U54 1974; reprint. New York, Arno
Press: 1976. E178.5.U54 1976), no. 128-129, 181.