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[Detail] U.S.S. Alert. Photographer - W H Jackson, 1901 or 1902

Historical Issue-Analysis and Decision-Making

Businessman and publisher William A. Livingstone, Jr. and photographer and photo-publisher Edwin H. Husher formed the Detroit Photographic Company in the late 1890s. They soon obtained the rights to "photochrom," a Swiss process for converting black-and-white photographs into color images and for mass producing color postcards, prints, and albums. Many of the images in this collection are reproductions of paintings created through the "photochrom" process.

A search on the phrase, autochrome color, yields over 100 color reproductions of paintings, including works by artists such as John Singer Sargent , William Sergeant Kendall, and Gari Melchers. To reproduce these images, a black-and-white photograph of the painting is colored to match the original.

  • How do you think that the quality of reproductions compare to the quality of original works?
  • Why do you think that people purchase reproductions such as these?
  • Do you think that such reproductions increase or decrease the value of the original work?
  • Do you think that reproductions affect the meaning of the original work?
  • How do you think that artists feel about the reproduction of their work?
  • Do you think that there are differences between reproducing visual works of art such as photographs or paintings and reproducing works in other media such as film or audio recordings?
  • Do you think that the ease, quality, and availability of digital reproductions has changed the debate? If so, how?