Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Amazing Autochromes of Women around the World, ca. 1910's

Helen Messinger Murdoch (1862 – 1956) was a remarkable woman – one of the earliest colour photographers and one of the first female aviators.

Self portrait with American flag

The youngest of five daughters, Helen Messinger Murdoch initially trained as an artist but then took up monochrome photography in the late 1890s after borrowing a camera from one of her older sisters. She was a very competent portrait photographer but in 1907, the advent of the Lumière Bros colour autochrome plate, the first widely available amateur colour process, opened up new horizons for her. Despite the difficulties of obtaining the colour plates from Lyon in France, which usually necessitated a personal visit to the factory, Murdoch used the autochrome process in her travels over the next few years.

In 1913, Murdoch decided to embark on a round the world tour – the first woman photographer to undertake such a challenging journey. She travelled through France to Egypt and then on to Palestine, India, Burma, Ceylon, Hong Kong, China, Japan, the Philippines, Hawaii, Honolulu, San Francisco, San Diego and overland to Boston, arriving home in 1915. Below is a selection of some of her amazing colour photographs of women around the world, ca. 1910's.

Hotel proprieter

Kaiosawa, Maids at Miss Tracys

Madaline Bradbury and “Chiketa”, Santa Barbara, c. 1915

Miss May Tracy, Japan

Miss Muriel Cadell, London, England, 1913

Miss Sallie Currier, Houlgate, Normandy, 1912

Miss Stuart, Santa Barbara

Mrs. Smith and Daughter

Portrait Bombay, c.1914

Santa Barbara Pupil Weaving Rug c.1915

Woman and child, Japan

Portrait of a woman in a pink dress

Woman standing by a tree

Brides Costume, Darjeeling, c.1914

(Photos by Helen Messinger Murdoch, The Royal Photographic Society Collection, National Media Museum / SSPL, via National Media Museum)

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