Picturing Childhood: Pictorialist Family Photography, c. 1890–1940
Family portraiture, self-portraiture, and photography of domestic life from the late 19th century through the 1940s by three photographers with Pittsburgh ties are featured in this exhibition. Charles Hart Spencer (1852–1912), Charles H. Breed (1876–1950), and Walter Munhall (1901–1993) were all natives of the city. They captured a bygone era of middle- and upper-middle class family life through pictorialist portraiture, and they were part of a continuum of amateur photographers who helped to establish the traditions and conventions of the formal family photograph and the more casual family snapshot.
Though Breed exhibited at the 1899 Pittsburgh Photographic Salon, he and Munhall are relatively unknown figures, and this exhibition provides an opportunity to showcase the strength of their work. Spencer was a socially prominent Pittsburgh resident and worked for Henry Clay Frick. His photographs were featured in the museum’s 1997 exhibition Pittsburgh Revealed: Photographs since 1850. The photographs by Munhall are part of Carnegie Museum of Art’s collection, while the Breed and Spencer photographs come from collections in New York City and Pittsburgh, respectively.
General support for the exhibition program at Carnegie Museum of Art is provided by grants from the Heinz Endowments and the Pennsylvania Council on the Arts.