Napoleon Sarony Photographic Hotel Art Album
30 June 2014
I received a really interesting e-mail (see below) from someone looking for information on Napoleon Sarony and specifically an album of his photographs and work. I posted about Sarony before as he has designed some of the greatest advertising art that you will ever see for some great brands like Binninger and Old Sachems Bitters and Wigwam Tonic.. Read: The great work of Sarony, Major & Knapp Lithographer – New York
I asked for a few pictures (see 3 pictures) and was knocked out with what she was referring to.
I am researching (and I use the term loosely – it’s my first attempt) a Photographic Art Album of Mr. Napoleon Sarony and I found an article where you had mentioned Mr. Sarony’s photographic art.
I was wondering if you could give me any information as to where I might get the album appraised or find out if it’s worth it to research further. The album has been in a friend of mine’s possession for at least 80 years and she wanted me to check it for her. Any advice would be appreciated.
Thank you for your time and consideration. Respectfully,
“We have located two others in public institutions. One for the Parker House of Boston is at Brown University, and the other for the Ponce De Leon Hotel of Saint Augustine, Florida is at Jacksonville University.”
Searching online, I did see specific reference to this Napoleon Sarony (pictured below) photographic album as the Antiquarian Booksellers has one listed for $80,000. Their fascinating description is reposted below.
SARONY. PHOTOGRAPHIC ART ALBUM. HOFFMAN HOUSE
circa 1885 · New York City by Sarony, Napoleon. photographer
(New York City, circa 1885). This monumental volume was created by the prominent New York photographer, Napoleon Sarony. Each side of the 23 thick board pages contains a matted albumen photograph and four matted advertising cards. Of the photographs, 42 are large portraits of notable actresses. Portraits of Grover Cleveland and his vice president, a portrait of the celebrated coronet player Liberati, and a photograph of the Owen papermaking establishment (possibly the producer of this album) are included. Of the 184 advertisements, 91 are photographs, the others are either engraved, lithographed, or chromolithographed.
The large photographs measure 11 1/2 x 6 3/4 inches ( 292 x 171 mm.), while the advertisements are mostly 8 x 4 inches ( 203 x 102 mm.) or the reverse. Elephant folio, 22 x 20 inches ( 559 x 508 mm.). Brown calf with lettering in gilt; expertly rebound with new brown morocco spine; minor soiling to the first few leaves; some old chromolithograph die cuts are mounted on the first five pages; light foxing.
Produced to sit in the lobby or bar of pre-eminent hotels, “art albums” were a kind of concierge service, created to entertain and inform visitors of the businesses and pleasures associated with these exclusive establishments. Our album is filled with seductive portraits of the stars of the “Belle Epoque”, including Fannie Davenport, Adelina Patti, Ada Rehan, Lotta Crabtree, Modjeska, Ellen Terry, and Lillian Russell, plus dozens of advertisements for goods and services.
All 42 actresses were posed and photographed by the greatest photographer of the American theatre, Napoleon Sarony (1821 – 1896). He “established a studio on Broadway in New York in 1866 – exactly the right time to take advantage of the American public’s growing fascination for the theatre by satisfying the accompanying demand for pictures of its stars. For the next thirty years Sarony photographed virtually every actor and actress working on the New York Stage. ” – Bassham p. 3. The Hoffman House was located on Broadway between 24th Street and 25th Street. Built in 1864, it quickly became the informal meeting place for the Democratic Party in New York. Grover Cleveland stopped there frequently, and was living there when he was elected to the Presidency for his second term. General Benjamin Butler and General Winfield Scott made the hotel their home on several occasions, and William Randolph Hearst lived at the Hoffman when he first came to New York City. Edward S. Stokes, who shot financier James Fisk, Jr., became a partner in the hotel, serving as general manager until 1897. The elegant barroom with its shocking painting “Nymphs and Satyrs” by Bougereau, became a major tourist attraction.
Due to their large size and small number, hotel “art albums” rarely survived. We have located two others in public institutions. One for the Parker House of Boston is at Brown University, and the other for the Ponce De Leon Hotel of Saint Augustine, Florida is at Jacksonville University.
The person was quite excited with my response.