This is the back of a cabinet card photograph of an unidentified volunteer fireman (see previous post for the front). Its flowers and vines motifs are typical of Art Nouveau, a style that flourished from 1890 to 1905.
Julius Hebbel, like many other photographers, aspired to practice “artistic photography.” From the very beginning, photographers aspired to equal or even supercede painting and drawing. Others, like David Woodward, inventor of the”solar camera,” the first widely-used enlarger, championed photography as an aid to painting.
Here, as flowers burst from the inner frame and the painter’s palette leads the eye across a rural bridge and deeper into the drawing, the riot of the graphic artist’s imagination threatens to overwhelm photography’s claims.