Treasure Hunt: Earlier Times Revisited
Thank you for sending me the image of your Wallace Nutting photograph. In the early 1900s, Wallace Nutting emerged as a leading photographer of New England country scenery and interiors. Today, each Wallace Nutting photograph encapsulates a rich history of American material culture.
After graduating from Harvard in 1887 and serving as a minister for many years, Nutting changed course. In 1899, he began to take his camera along on bicycle rides in the country, a hobby that in 1904 grew to a full-fledged business, The Wallace Nutting Art Prints Studio, first based in New York City, then Connecticut and finally Framingham, Mass.
Nutting would tour New England taking photographs of landscapes and interiors. He never labeled himself as an artist, but rather one who appreciated American landscapes and interiors. He would typically have women subjects model for his photographs dressed in period costumes (often sewn by his wife) that would capture 18th and 19th century America. This corresponded to the Colonial Revival Era of which Nutting was a leading force. His photography became wildly popular and Nutting copyrighted nearly 1,000 photographs. In his factory, an estimated 200 hired women would hand-color and hand-tint the photographs.
Nutting also collected furniture to use as props for his interior photographs, and even purchased antique homes with magnificently paneled rooms to use as stage settings for his photography and acquisitions of antique Americana. He established one of the first significant collections of American furniture and decorative objects, and even researched and published books on furniture and clocks. In 1920, Nutting sold his important collection of furniture to J.P. Morgan for $200,000. This wonderful collection is now on display at the Wadsworth Athenaeum in Hartford, Conn. Nutting’s reference books, his most popular titled “The Furniture Treasury,” is considered one of the first great documents of American Furniture that was published and is still a valuable resource today.
Your hand-colored and signed interior photograph is a wonderful example of Wallace Nutting’s smaller-scale works. It is in excellent condition with little to no fading. I would estimate its value at $250.
Curious about an antique you have? Send a photo to firstname.lastname@example.org. If there are markings, please take a clear photo of them as well. If your submission is selected, we’ll have expert Jason Hackler appraise it. Hackler, manager/owner of New Hampshire Antique Co-op in Milford (www.nhantiquecoop.com) and partner of Jason Samuel Antiques, is a past officer of the Granite State Antique and Appraisers Association, a principal of the Active Appraisal Group and a member of the N.H. Antique Dealers Association.