EXCEEDINGLY RARE SIGNED PHOTOGRAPH OF YEATS BY ALICE BOUGHTON. ONE OF THE EARLIEST KNOWN SIGNED YEATS PHOTOS.
A rare bust portrait of Yeats as a young man, signed and inscribed by Yeats to U.S. politician and later U.S. secretary of state Bainbridge Colby: “To Mr. Bainbridge Colby with kind regards from WB Yeats March 1904.” Inscribed in ink on the flush board mount beneath the photograph. On the verso of the photograph mount is written in pencil: “Young Yeats photo [????] not to be used without Mr. Yeats permission.”
The photograph was taken by the photographer Alice Boughton during Yeats’s first American tour (November 11, 1903 - March 9, 1904), almost certainly on December 22, 1903, when Yeats’s friend and champion, the Irish-American collector John Quinn, arranged for the sitting with Boughton.
Quinn wrote to Alice Boughton on January 7, 1904, to thank her for four prints (two solio prints and two platinum prints) he received and noted that “Yeats received the three photographs which you sent him and was charmed by them.” The studio portraits are of Yeats in different poses and it is possible that this print - presumably one of the three given to Yeats - is a unique example. We have not found it reproduced anywhere.
The American photographer Alice Boughton “opened her own portrait studio in New York in 1890, and her subjects were prominent literary and theatrical figures. Her studies of children are also noteworthy and she is remembered for her photographs of female nudes in allegorical or natural settings. Her studio remained open for forty years. In 1928 a collection of her portraits, Photographing the Famous, was published. Her work is in the permanent collections of several major museums” (National Portrait Gallery). Boughton, a significant figure in the Photo-Secession movement, gained a considerable following during her time - unusual for a female photographer. Her work was championed by Alfred Stieglitz, with six of her photographs appearing in a 1909 issue of Stieglitz’s Camera Work.
Provenance: From Yeats to Bainbridge Colby. Yeats presumably met Bainbridge Colby on his 1903-04 American tour. Colby (1869-1950) was a young and successful lawyer with many well-known clients (including Mark Twain). By 1904 he had already entered politics, having just concluded a term as a member of the New York State Assembly. He would later ascend to U.S. Secretary of State (1920-1921) under Woodrow Wilson and was a champion of the women’s suffrage movement. (It was Colby who issued the proclamation announcing that the 19th amendment granting women the right to vote had been ratified.)
Platinum print on original board mount. New York: 1903. Archivally framed with UV-protected museum glass. Photo including margin with inscription: 8.5x11in. Photo alone: 7x9in. Framed: 14.5x17.5in. Toning to mount, some abrasions to photo.
AN EXTREMELY RARE AND IMPORTANT EARLY SIGNED PHOTO OF YEATS.
Price: $20,000 .