Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary of the Philadelphia Museum of Art
Born in Westminster, Massachusetts, Edwin Hale Lincoln began his photography career in 1876 in Brockton, a city not far from Boston. At a time when soft-focus, picturesque views were the dominant artistic aesthetic, Lincoln was unusual in his desire to join science and art in his photographs, choosing a more straightforward means of rendering his subjects. In the 1890s he made his home in the Berkshires, where he began a systematic study of regional wildflowers. These photographs were sold as a small-edition folio
of platinum prints titled Wild Flowers of New England that were used by university botany departments and art schools alike.
Lincoln was a charter member of the American Orchid Society and often uprooted plants to study and photograph them under optimum conditions in his studio before replanting them out of doors. While the wildflowers are his best-known body of work, he also made studies of trees, landscapes, and cultivated flowers. The latter subjects appear to be fairly scarce in public collections and on the market, which suggests the rarity and uniqueness of the three albums that have recently been given to the Museum. Though the pictures were made over several years, the albums were probably bound or assembled at the same time, as the bindings and pages are identical and are embossed on the spine with their titles and the year 1929. Each photograph in the albums is hand-captioned in ink, with the artist’s signature appearing on each title page as well. Katherine Ware, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Gifts in Honor of the 125th Anniversary (2002), p. 83.