On this day:
1910 – SMS Zrínyi, one of the last pre-dreadnought battleships built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy, is launched.
SMS Zrínyi [a] (“His Majesty’s ship Zrínyi”) was a Radetzky-class pre-dreadnought battleship (Schlachtschiff) of the Austro-Hungarian Navy (K.u.K. Kriegsmarine), named for the Zrinski, a noble Croatian family. Zrínyi and her sisters, Erzherzog Franz Ferdinand and Radetzky, were the last pre-dreadnoughts built by the Austro-Hungarian Navy.[b]
During World War I, Zrínyi saw action in the Adriatic Sea. She served with the Second Division of the Austro-Hungarian Navy’s battleships and shelled Senigallia as part of the bombardment of the key seaport of Ancona, Italy, during May 1915. However, Allied control of the Strait of Otranto meant that the Austro-Hungarian Navy was, for all intents and purposes, effectively bottled up in the Adriatic. Nonetheless, the presence of the Zrínyi and other battleships tied down a substantial force of Allied ships.
With the war going against the Austrians by the end of 1918, Zrínyi was prepared to be transferred to the new State of Slovenes, Croats and Serbs. On 10 November 1918—just one day before the end of the war, navy officers sailed the battleship out of Pola (Pula) and eventually surrendered to a squadron of American submarine chasers. Following the handover to the United States Navy, she was briefly designated USS Zrínyi. In the Treaty of Saint-Germain-en-Laye, the transfer was not recognized; instead, Zrínyi was given to Italy and broken up for scrap.
Pre-dreadnought battleships were sea-going battleships built between the mid- to late 1880s and 1905, before the launch of HMS Dreadnought. Pre-dreadnoughts replaced the ironclad battleships of the 1870s and 1880s. Built from steel, and protected by hardened steel armour, pre-dreadnought battleships carried a main battery of very heavy guns in barbettes (open or with armored gunhouses) supported by one or more secondary batteries of lighter weapons. They were powered by coal-fuelled triple-expansion steam engines.
In contrast to the chaotic development of ironclad warships in preceding decades, the 1890s saw navies worldwide start to build battleships to a common design as dozens of ships essentially followed the design of the British Majestic class. The similarity in appearance of battleships in the 1890s was underlined by the increasing number of ships being built. New naval powers such as Germany, Japan, the United States, and – to a lesser extent – Italy and Austria-Hungary, began to establish themselves with fleets of pre-dreadnoughts, while the navies of Britain, France, and Russia expanded to meet these new threats. The decisive clash of pre-dreadnought fleets was between the Imperial Russian Navy and the Imperial Japanese Navy during the Battle of Tsushima on 27 May 1905.
HMS Ocean was typical of pre-dreadnought battleships.
These battleships were abruptly made obsolete by the arrival of HMS Dreadnought in 1906. Dreadnought followed the trend in battleship design to heavier, longer-ranged guns by adopting an “all-big-gun” armament scheme of ten 12-inch guns. Her innovative steam turbine engines also made her faster. The existing pre-dreadnoughts were decisively outclassed, and new and more powerful battleships were from then on known as dreadnoughts while the ships that had been laid down before were designated pre-dreadnoughts.
Born on this day:
1883 – Imogen Cunningham, American photographer and educator (d. 1976)
Imogen Cunningham (/ˈkʌnɪŋəm/; April 12, 1883 – June 23, 1976) was an American photographer known for her botanical photography, nudes, and industrial landscapes. Cunningham was a member of the California-based Group f/64, known for its dedication to the sharp-focus rendition of simple subjects.
Cunningham was born in Portland, Oregon to father Isaac Burns Cunningham and mother Susan Elizabeth Cunningham (née Johnson). Her parents were from Missouri, though both of their families originally came from Virginia. Cunningham was the fifth of 10 children.
She grew up in Seattle, Washington and attended the Denny School at 5th and Battery Streets in Seattle.
In 1901, at the age of eighteen, Cunningham bought her first camera, a 4×5 inch view camera, via mail order from the American School of Art in Scranton, Pennsylvania.
She entered the University of Washington where she became a charter member of the Washington Alpha Chapter of Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women. It was not until 1906, while studying at the University of Washington in Seattle, that she was inspired to take up photography again by an encounter with the work of Gertrude Käsebier. With the help of her chemistry professor, Horace Byers, she began to study the chemistry behind photography and she subsidized her tuition by photographing plants for the botany department.
In 1907, Cunningham graduated from University of Washington with a degree in chemistry. Her thesis was titled “Modern Processes of Photography.”
After graduating from college in 1907, Cunningham went to work for Edward S. Curtis in his Seattle studio, gaining knowledge about the portrait business and practical photography. Cunningham worked for Edward S. Curtis on his project of documenting American Indian tribes for the book The North American Indian, which was published in twenty volumes between 1907 and 1930. Cunningham learned the technique of platinum printing under Curtis’ supervision and became fascinated by the process.
In 1909, Cunningham was awarded the Pi Beta Phi Graduate Fellowship. This grant allowed her to work at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden where she helped the photographic chemistry department find cheaper solutions for the expensive and, at the time due to World War I, rare platinum used for printing. Using this fellowship, Cunningham traveled to Germany to study with Professor Robert Luther at the Technische Hochschule in Dresden, Germany. In Dresden she concentrated on her studies and didn’t take many photographs. In May 1910, she finished her paper, “About the Direct Development of Platinum Paper for Brown Tones”, describing her process to increase printing speed, improve clarity of highlights tones, and produce sepia tones.
On her way back to Seattle she met Alvin Langdon Coburn in London, and Alfred Stieglitz and Gertrude Käsebier in New York.
In Seattle, Cunningham opened a studio and won acclaim for portraiture and pictorial work. Most of her studio work of this time consisted of sitters in their own homes, in her living room, or in the woods surrounding Cunningham’s cottage. She became a sought after photographer and exhibited at the Brooklyn Institute of Arts and Sciences in 1913.
In 1914, Cunningham’s portraits were shown at An International Exhibition of Pictorial Photography in New York. Wilson’s Photographic Magazine published a portfolio of her work.
The next year, she married Roi Partridge, a teacher and artist. He posed for a series of nude photographs, which were shown by the Seattle Fine Arts Society. Although critically praised, Cunningham didn’t revisit those photographs for another fifty-five years. Between 1915 and 1920, Cunningham continued her work and had three children (Gryffyd, Rondal, who also became a photographer, and Padraic) with Partridge.
In 1920, the family moved to San Francisco where Partridge taught at Mills College.
Cunningham refined her style, taking a greater interest in pattern and detail and becoming increasingly interested in botanical photography, especially flowers. Between 1923 and 1925 she carried out an in-depth study of the Magnolia flower. Later in the decade she turned her attention toward industry, creating several series of industrial landscapes in Los Angeles and Oakland.
In 1929, Edward Weston nominated 10 of Cunningham’s photographs (8 botanical, 1 industrial, and 1 nude) for inclusion in the “Film und Foto” exhibition and her renowned, Two Callas, debuted in that exhibition.
Cunningham once again changed direction, becoming more interested in the human form, particularly hands, and she was fascinated with the hands of artists and musicians. This interest led to her employment by Vanity Fair, photographing stars without make-up.
There are eleven artists who have announced themselves as part of the f/64 group which includes: Ansel Adams, John Paul Edwards, Preston Holder, Consuelo Kanaga, Alma Lavenson, Sonya Noskowiak, Henry Swift, Willard Van Dyke, Brett Weston, Edward Weston, and of course Imogen Cunningham. This group was using their photography in a new way, representing something that steered away from the pictorialism norm. The title for the group “F/64” epitomizes the term due to its definition as the smallest aperture on the camera (within that time period).
In an effort to address both financial and artistic concerns, the Group f/64 decided to mount an exhibition. The loose-knit collective only had a single show, in 1932, at the De Young museum in San Francisco. They published a manifesto at the exhibition.
In 1934, Cunningham was invited to do some work in New York for Vanity Fair. Her husband wanted her to wait until he could travel with her, but she refused. They divorced that year. She continued with Vanity Fair until it stopped publication in 1936.
In the 1940s, Cunningham turned to documentary street photography, which she executed as a side project while supporting herself with her commercial and studio photography. In 1945, Cunningham was invited by Ansel Adams to accept a position as a faculty member for the art photography department at the California School of Fine Arts. Dorothea Lange and Minor White joined as well.
In 1964, Imogen Cunningham met the photographer Judy Dater while leading a workshop focusing on the life and work of Edward Weston in Big Sur Hot Springs, California which later became the Esalen Institute. Dater was greatly inspired by Cunningham’s life and work. Cunningham is featured in one of Dater’s most popular photographs Imogen and Twinka at Yosemite, which depicts elderly Cunningham encountering nude model Twinka Thiebaud behind a tree in Yosemite National Park. The two shared an interest in portraiture and remained friends until Cunningham’s death in 1976. Three years later, Dater published Imogen Cunningham: A Portrait, containing interviews with many of Cunningham’s photographic contemporaries, friends, and family along with photographs by both Dater and Cunningham.
In 1973, her work was exhibited at the Rencontres d’Arles photography festival in France through the group exhibition: Trois photographes américaines, Imogen Cunningham, Linda Connor, Judy Dater.
Examples of Works
Cunningham’s early work consisted soft focus as well as blurred imagery. Examples of this work would be her photograph Ben Butler 1910. The blurry image gives a mystery to the figure photographed, making the viewer want to make a narrative. As Cunningham began experimenting with sharper, crisper images she began to create a style known as sharp focus photography. This helped her find other photographers interested in this style and they named themselves the f/64 Group. An example of her sharper images would be Alfred Stieglitz 1934. The figure is photographed from the waist up and is cropped and slightly left within the photograph. The image is sharp and focuses on his facial structure, highlighting his mustache and glasses.
1967: Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
1968: Honorary Doctorate of Fine Arts degree from the California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland
1970: Guggenheim fellowship in Creative Arts for Photography
[Unknown year]: Dorothea Lange Award – first recipient
2004: Hall of Fame Inductee, International Photography Hall of Fame and Museum
In 1915, Cunningham married etching artist, printmaker and teacher Roi Partridge. They had three sons: Gryffyd Partridge and twins Rondal Partridge and Padriac Partridge. The couple divorced in 1934. Rondal’s daughter, Meg Partridge, cataloged Cunningham’s work.
As of 1940, Cunningham lived in Oakland, California, though she had studios in various locations in San Francisco.
Cunningham continued to take photographs until shortly before her death at age 93, on June 23, 1976, in San Francisco, California.
Cunningham was named Imogen after the heroine of Shakespeare’s Cymbeline.
“I want everybody to be a self-learner. I don’t believe in teaching, I believe in learning.”