Amelia E. Bergner (American, 1853-1923)
Seven botanical specimens, circa 1877
Photogram on chromate based printing-out paper
28.9 x 22.9 cm, corners clipped, mounted on 40.7 x 34.2 cm album page
Partial watermark "Linen Record" visible
Amelia Bergner came from a prominent Philadelphia family, the daughter of a brewer, and was active in musical, cultural and philanthropic circles. She is buried in Laurel Hill Cemetery in Philadelphia.
This celadon-colored photogram appears to be made by the process discovered by the Scottish inventor Mungo Ponton (1801-1880). Bergner's work reflects a popular 19th century practice of placing leaves, ferns and other botanical specimens directly onto sensitized paper and then exposing them to the sun. This practice dates to the earliest photographic experiments by William Henry Fox Talbot, most notably followed by the cyanotypes of Anna Atkins.
The only known art works by Amelia Bergner consist of floral and plant arrangements collected in a botanical album with uniformly printed ornate borders, from which the present print originates. It is likely that her interest in art, rather than classifying the region’s flora, prompted her to produce the album. Her cameraless compositions were carefully arranged and deliberately decorative.
Examples from Bergner’s album are in the collections of the Art Institute of Chicago, Philadelphia Museum of Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and the Musée d’Orsay.