Arnold Genthe (1869-1942) was an American photographer with German heritage, become popular in history of photography for his reports about Chinatown in San Francisco before the terrible earthquake which wiped out the city in 1906. After the catastrophic event, he moved to New York, where he continued his career as a portrait photographer where he photographed some of the most popular personalities of his time, like Theodore Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson, Greta Garbo and John D. Rockefeller.

Despite his most famous images are all monochromes, Genthe was one amongst the first professionals to use such a photographic technique in 1905, only 2 years after its invention by the brothers Lumière and 2 years before its entrance into the commerce in 1907. When he was in life he claimed the paternity  of the first coloured picture in America, but more recent studies reveal that he was not exactly the very 1st one, however certainly amongst the first one to photograph in colours. The subjects of his images were including any types, but he also had a decent amount of naked portraits, a real rarity for the era.

The pictures of such women were taken between 1905 and 1910, and create an important document as some of the first coloured pictures in the history of photography.

Amongst the curiosities about Genthe there is the knowledge of Jack London, before passionate explorer and photographer and then successful writer who photographed in one of his portraits in 19’6, when they both were reporting the earthquake in San Francisco.

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All pictures belong to the public domain

Matteo Rubboli

I am a publisher specialised in the digital distribution of culture and founder of the portal Vanilla Magazine. I don't wear a tie or branded clothes, I keep my hair short so I don't have to comb it. That's not my fault but just the way I've been drawn as...

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