[Various locations in Costa Rica]: 1910. Sixty-eight silver gelatin photographs on forty-nine leaves; lacking three images. Forty-one photos measuring 6 x 8 inches each on a single leaf, the remainder approximately 3.5 x 3.5 inches. Oblong folio album. Black limp cloth covers with grey paper leaves. Light wear to album, front corner creased. Manuscript title on front pastedown, remnants of pasted vegetation in the album, not affecting images. Each image captioned. Passport and other related ephemera pasted to rear end leaves. Very good. Item #1527
A wonderful album of photographs taken in Costa Rica by artist George Harting while on a three-month honeymoon there. These handsomely composed, primarily large-format images show street scenes, local inhabitants, and the conditions of travel and life across the country. George W. Harting (1877-1958) was an illustrator and photographer -- his Costa Rican passport, tipped into the rear of the album, lists his profession simply as "artista." Harting, a native Minnesotan, embarked on a career in the arts by studying in New York under Robert Henri and William Merritt Chase. After completing his studies, he became principally an illustrator, with his work published in such periodicals as Life, Colliers, Harpers, and Vogue. In the 1920s, however, he shifted his focus to photography, at which he had some proficiency as evidenced by the excellent images in the present album.
The first few leaves of the album depict San Jose, featuring scenes of the city and streets, the central park, the penitentiary, scenes in the local market, and several shots of the locals. All are artfully composed and the prints are sharp and well-defined. There follow five images of the city of Cartago, which was devastated by the worst earthquake in Costa Rica's on May 4th, just a few months prior to Harting's visit. These images show rubble-strewn streets, collapsed churches, and the remains of the Carnegie Peace Palace. After their trip to Cartago, the group traveled to the coast, and the next twelve images depict scenes in Cambalache and Punta Arenas. A photo captioned "Our Bungalow - Cambalache" depicts a tent on a bit of a hill with wash hanging on the line to the left. Harting is seated on the makeshift steps in front of the tent, while his bride stands at the entry flap. There are scenes in Punta Arenas, images of the little rail line they used to travel the countryside, and a wonderful image captioned "Cambalache Camp Kitchen" which shows a Black cook stirring a pot with one hand while the other holds the lid, his look directed at the camera somewhat dubious. The final images show bananas being loaded onto the boat at Limon and then unloaded in New York. The smaller photographs at the end of the album are much more snapshot in style, and seem to span the trip, with images from San Jose, Limon, and aboard ship. The end leaves contain Harting's passport as well as other related ephemera from the trip.
All told it is a lovely group of striking and delightful images. Harting's artistic abilities are clearly evident, with strongly composed and absorbing scenes that elevate this collection of photographs far above a standard tourist album.