24 arrestingly beautiful portraits from the turn of the 20th century

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19th century portraits, Fred Holland Day
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24 arrestingly beautiful portraits from the turn of the 20th century
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933) of Lebanese writer Kahlil Gibran (1883-1931). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
Boy's head, looking down By Fred Holland Day 1864-1933, photographer. dated 1905. (Photo by: Universal History Archive/UIG via Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
UNSPECIFIED - JANUARY 11: Photograph by Fred Holland Day (1864-1933). (Photo by SSPL/Getty Images)
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These remarkably contemporary-looking portraits, taken more than a century ago, are the work of F. Holland Day, the son of a wealthy Boston merchant. Day cofounded the publishing firm of Copeland and Day in 1893, and was a significant patron of artists and collector of books and poetry.

By 1889, his passions had grown to include photography. Influenced by the European Decadent and Symbolist movements, Day often used nude male models to create allegorical or mythological images. His most famous work was a series on the last words of Christ, for which he starved himself and grew his hair out to play the subject.

Day printed his images exclusively using the complex yet beautiful platinum process, and mounted them in handsome, gilded frames.

At the turn of the century, Day's reputation in American photography circles rivaled that of Alfred Stieglitz, who often asked Day to send photos for inclusion in the photographic journal Camera Work.

Day largely withdrew from image-making after a fire destroyed his studio in 1904, but his work, with its bold interpretation of religious iconography and occasional homoerotic undertones, remained well ahead of his time.

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