Photographers: James Arthur (United States, 18??-1912)


Figure 1.-- James Arthur was a nationally known photographer at the turn-of-the 20th century. He was originally a studio photographer. He partnered with a gentleman named (unknown first name) Philbric. James Arthur unlike Bain was not involved in photo journalism. Rather in addition to stndard studio work, he created what he called 'art photography'. Basically it was genre images that could be commercially printed as a result of the advances in photo lithography. This was a 1897 image. Click on the image to compare this with another barn image painted in 1849.  

James Arthur was a nationally known photographer at the turn-of-the 20th century. He was originally a studio photographer. He partnered with a gentleman named (unknown first name) Philbric -- Arthur & Philbric had studios (at various times and concurrently) in Toledo, Ohio, Grand Rapids, Michigan (address from 1890 - 1894 was 21 Canal Street) and Detroit, Michigan. (The Arthur & Philbric Studios address was 204-206 Woodward Ave, Detroit, Michigan from 1894-95 to 1903-04.) There may have been other studios at other addresses and cities, We are still researching this possibility. The Arthur-Philbric partnership disolved in/about 1903 and James Arthur became the sole owner of what was then called Arthur Studios at the 204-206 Woodward Ave. address. We are not familiar with the 234 Woodward Ave. address. I suspect this was James Arthur's brother, also a photographer who, if our research is correct, specialized in child photography (but like any good photographer, would also photograph anyone willing to sit.) It could have also been his 'solo' studio address after the partnership dissolved. That entire area of Woodward Ave. in Detroit is now a canyon of Interstate Highway lanes. James Arthur unlike Bain was not involved in photo journalism. Rather in addition to stndard studio work, he created what he called 'art photography'. Basically it was genre impages that could be commercially printed as a result of the advances in photo lithography. James Arthur died unexpectedly in 1912. His brother took over the business in name briefly but allowed trusted employees to continue the actual photographic work. He eventually sold the studio to one of the long time employees. Arthur Studios (from as early as 1907) also was a prolific producer of what was odten referred to as 'Art Photography'. Thesevimages were used in the relatively new business of calendar and reproductive art (often referred to as 'art for the masses, not the classes'). This was essentually what the painting world refers to as genre works. These were paper prints that could be framed and displayed in middle and lower class homes that could not afford to decorate with large portraits or decorative arts done in oils, water colors or pastels, i.e., 'original' art work vs. 'reproduced' art work







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Created: 1:52 AM 9/25/2018
Last updated: 1:52 AM 9/25/2018