Northampton, Mass. Smith College, 1932. First Edition. Large folio (460 x 315 mm). , 95,  pp. With 2 small photographs in the text and 32 large photographs numbered I-XXXII (most measuring ca. 255 x 150 mm). Original blue cloth stamped in white (minor shelf-wear as expected with such a large and heavy volume; very minor occasional browning or blemishes in the text). Signed by the printer on the colophon. Item #3342
UNKNOWN MASTERPIECE OF PHOTOGRAPHY. THIS MASSIVE TOME HAS BEEN SHAMEFULLY IGNORED BY "SPECIALISTS" OF PHOTOBOOKS DUE TO ITS STRICTLY ACADEMIC CONTENT, PURE CLASSICAL FORM AND PRESENTATION, AND ITS PALTRY PRESS RUN OF JUST 110 COPIES.
The scholarly subtitle ("Studies in the History and Criticism of Sculpture. Volume 7") has long disguised the haunting array of silver gelatin photographs herein. The sculptures of Andrea del Verrocchio had been covered in 300 years of dust, and because of the "miserable" light in the chapel, the astonishing details had remained almost invisible to viewers. Clarence Kennedy utilized a meticulous process of his own invention whereby a "pencil of light" was employed: "Throughout such an exposure the lens, stopped down to the smallest aperture to insure exact definition, remained open, registering upon sensitized emulsion the succession of impressions which, if properly balanced, produce the result for which we were searching" (p. 3).
Kennedy's ingenious experimentation resulted in an arresting series of black and white photographs that are unlike anything we have seen hitherto, and MUST BE SEEN to be fully appreciated. Frederick Jochem praises the work in his review in The Art Bulletin: "The manipulation of light and of the various photographic materials is accomplished with such mastery that the slightest nuances as well as the strongest effects of projection and recession are accurately and vividly recorded. Even the partial penetration of the light into the marble, which accounts for so much of the color and exquisite surface quality of that material, is captured and reproduced, particularly in the many large prints which illustrate details of the monument." (Vol. 17, No. 2, June 1935, p. 233).
Every surviving contemporary document which has any bearing on Andrea del Verrecchio's monument is published herein, including twenty-six documents published here for the first time. Kennedy's photographs, Weismann's text, and Bacci's editorship are combined into a history of the monument as complete as can be expected from the evidence which has survived.
As we learn from the colophon, the plates of the sculptures were printed on Vitava paper directly from negatives on panchromatic film, under the Kennedy's direct supervision. The printing and binding were conceived and executed by Maryla and Samuel Tyszkiewicz at their private Press in Florence. The letterpress was printed in Nicholas Cochin type, cast at Florence, on whole rag paper especially prepared at the mills in Pescia for the Press and bearing its watermark. Ours is copy no. 43 from a total edition of 110, including ten copies containing fifty-eight plates.
Regrettably, Sarah Hamill, in "Photography as Carving: The Folios of Clarence Kennedy" (in: Photography and Sculpture: The Art Object in Reproduction, eds. S. Hamill and M. R. Luke, 2017) focused exclusively on Kennedy's photographs of Desiderio's Madonna and Child relief in the Bargello, Florence. Doing so was a missed opportunity. It was also a disservice to those who are genuinely interested in "The Folios [plural] of Clarence Kennedy" as one might expect from the title of her article.