Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Twice Told Tuesday - Were Abnormally Vain

Twice Told Tuesday features a photography related article reprinted from my
collection of old photography books, magazines, and newspapers.

WERE ABNORMALLY VAIN
Gutekunst, the Veteran Photographer,
Tells Some Amusing Stories

The North American, (Philadelphia, PA)
Wednesday, May 24, 1899; pg. 3; col B


“We hear a great deal about the vanity of women,” said F. Gutekunst, the veteran photographer to a North American reporter yesterday, “but an experience of many years with prominent members of both sexes has lead me to the firm belief that men possess quite as much if not more vanity than the daughters of Eve. And the vanity of men oftentimes expresses itself in such a queer way that it is really freakish.

“Can I recall any instances of such freakish displays of vanity? Why, many of them. Once there sat for me a lawyer, so eminent that he was a prominent candidate for a position upon the bench of the Supreme Court. He was undoubtedly a very able man, yet his vanity was so great, or so small, as you may look at it, that while I was taking his photograph he insisted on looking into a hand mirror, so that he would be sure to have the expression of his lips just right.”

“Was he elected?”

“No; but I don’t know that his vanity kept him from the bench.”

“Another remarkable case of vanity was that of one of the most prominent surgeons in this city. He brought along a barber, and seemed to attach as much importance to the work of the ‘tonsorial artist’ as to my own humble endeavors. It was so amusing that I couldn’t keep my face straight. Even as I was trying to get him focused he had the barber posing him, arranging a curl or giving his mustache one more twist.”

“Who is this?” asked the reporter, whose attention was attracted to a large photograph of a very serious-looking man.

“That is the great painter, Benjamin Constant, to whom George W. Childs and A.J. Drexel each paid $4000 for a portrait of himself. Even Constant, who, I imagine has seen even more of human vanity than I have, is not entirely without vanity himself."

“When he sat for me he posed to suit himself. Instead of letting the light shine full on him and away from the camera, he changed places with the camera. While the picture is good it is marred by heavy shadows, as the great man admitted, which would not have been the case had he not tried to be so original."

“Yes; I could fill a volume of reminiscences about prominent people that might be rather interesting; but, you know, photographers have their “professional secrets.’ just as lawyers and physicians do.”

Note: See discussion of F. Gutekunst in Photo of The Week - May 12 -.

Source:

Unknown. "Were Abnormally Vain." The North American, 24 May 1899. Online archives. (http://infotrac.galegroup.com/) : 2008.

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