Sep 2, 2004

First Bank of the United States, Philadelphia

First Bank of the United States, Philadelphia


Frederick DeBourg Richards

(American, 1822-1903)

Salted paper print from wet collodion negative

Image: 20.4 x 15.5 cm (8 1/16 x 6 1/8 in.); Paper: 22.3 x 16.4 cm (8 3/4 x 6 7/16 in.); Matted: 50.8 x 40.6 cm (20 x 16 in.)

John L. Severance Fund 2002.41



Frederick DeBourg Richards, who was trained as a painter, was an accomplished Philadelphia photographer. His notoriety for complex architectural compositions was beautifully realized in this oblique, elevated view of the First Bank of the United States in Philadelphia. This warm-toned photograph, rich with detail, is a rare example of early cityscape photography. Designed by Samuel Blodgett with Joseph P. LeGrand, the bank resembles a marble mansion. Completed in 1797, it was probably the first building with a classic façade of marble to be erected in the United States. Indeed, the animated street life that Richards included was unusual for this period of photography.

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