This month we look at a fine example of a delicate photograph by Anselm von Rothschild.
Salomon Albert Anselm (known as Anselm) von Rothschild (1844-1911) was born in Vienna. He attended the Gymnasium in that city and the University of Brno. He married his cousin Bettina on 22 March 1876 and their main residence was on the Heugasse. Albert served a Rothschild apprenticeship, and under Albert, S M von Rothschild & Söhne became banker-in-chief to the Austrian government and the family's industrial holdings were increased.
Banking did not interfere with his wide range of enthusiasms. His was the first automobile seen in Vienna. He was an early conservationist, built an observatory, collected works of art, and was a keen photographer.
'Amateur Kunst', 1891
Together with his brother Nathaniel, photography was one of Albert's many interests and he was a leading member of the Viennese Camera Club. This plate, after a photograph taken on his estate in Waidhofen, Lower Austria by Albert comes from the portfolio album 'Amateur Kunst'. The 'posed genre photo' (of which Waidhoffener Ninetta' is a an example) could be charming, but was regarded as difficult to master, because of the difficulty the posing a figure or group in such away as to appear natural; such images were regarded as akin to Dutch genre paintings. The Vienna Camera Club Journal (Volume IV: December, 1891) described this image: "Waidhof'ner Ninetta" by Albert Freiherr von Rothschild in Vienna, shows how happily one can imitate paintings with the help of photography. Such things have been tried many times, but to our knowledge never with such good results."
The Internationale Ausstellung Künstlerischer Photographien in Wien 1891 (International Exhibition of Art Photographers) was organized by the Club of Amateur Photographers (Club der Amateur Photographen in Wien) in Vienna, in 1891. Over 4000 photographs were entered from around the world for possible exhibit; the jury that chose the 600 entries for hanging came from a pool of mostly academic artists and a lone royal court photographer. The exhibition ran from 30 April to 31 May 1891, and later that year, the club issued an elaborate portfolio in two separate editions consisting of large-plate photogravures of images from the exhibition. Albert had two images of 'Waidhoffener Ninetta' in the exhibition; his brother Nathaniel (1836-1905) also had two images; 'Kinderjause' and 'Durensee mit dem Monte Cristallo'.