Ema Spencer (American, 1857-1941)
platinum print with graphite, Image: 20.2 x 14.9 cm (7 15/16 x 5 13/16 in.); Matted: 45.72 x 35.56 cm (18 x 14 in.). Gift of John Flory, Elizabeth Flory Kelly, and Phoebe Flory 1980.174
A native of Newark, Ohio, Spencer was a talented photographer who received national and international recognition for her work created in the prevailing Pictorial style. As a founder of the Newark Camera Club, she met and encouraged the young photographer Clarence White and then studied under him, assimilating his ability to render portraits with an innate gentleness. In this image, Spencer skillfully orchestrated the composition and captured the subtle effects of natural light. She looked to her teacher's early work when applying soft graphite strokes to the finished photograph for structural emphasis and tonal shading. This charming portrait celebrates the simple pleasures of unhurried living, like reading a book in a sun-filled room.
The Cleveland Museum of Art; 10/13/01-2/27/02. "Artists Photographing Artists," no catalogue.The Cleveland Museum of Art (9/5/2015 - 1/17/2016); "Pictorialist Photography"Princeton University Art Museum, NJ (10/7/2017 - 1/7/2018), Davis Museum and Cultural Center, Wellesley, MA (2/7/2018 – 6/2/2018), Portland Museum of Art, ME (6/22/2018 – 9/16/2018), and The Cleveland Museum of Art, OH (10/21/2018 – 1/21/2019): "Clarence White and His World: The Art and Craft of Photography, 1895-1925"
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