The Farber collection documents images of celebrated American buildings by photographer Joseph C. Farber.
Scope and Contents note:
The Farber collection is filled with well-crafted and often very beautiful images of celebrated American buildings. Many of the images, which for the most part take the form of 11" x 14" black-and-white photoprints, explore the European Renaissance origins of American architecture. The collection is also very rich in color transparencies. Nearly all the images are directly related to published projects, specifically photo-essays in the shape of articles , many of which appeared in the magazine Antiques or newspapers. Farber probably would have wished for all of his photographs to have been published. Many were shown in exhibitions, as evidenced by the large proportion of the photoprints that are mounted and also the existence of correspondence files relating to such matters. There are also files related to the processes of conceiving, executing, and publishing his photographic work.
The images for the books are nearly all black-and-white, whereas magazine work, especially the commissions from Antiques, generated the most transparencies. In addition to the images in print and transparency form, and the associated proof sheets and negatives, there is also a great quantity of slides related to travel in the collection, which predate Farber's second career as a professional photographer. A tiny sampling of earlier photographs, mostly with artistic or family-and-personal themes, is also included.
Black-and-white negatives, black-and-white prints, and color transparencies, mostly created for specific book projects, articles in Antiques magazine, etc. Generally, color was used for magazine articles, while black-and-white images were intended for books. Collection also includes photographs of personal or family significance, and some early artistic efforts. Non-pictorial portion consists primarily of material related to Farber's publications: correspondence, galley proofs, reviews, etc.
Photographs include projects related to Thomas Jefferson (e.g., Monticello), classical architecture, Essex, Connecticut, etc. Buildings photographed include Raleigh's Tavern, Williamsburg, Va.; Independence Hall, Philadelphia; Maison Carree, Nimes, France; St. Paul's Chapel, Boston, Mass.; White House, Washington; New York City landmarks; sites in Springfield and New Salem, Ill., associated with Abraham Lincoln; historic buildings in Boston and Cambridge,Mass.; Hannibal, Mo.; Deerfield, Mass.; New England churches and meetinghouses; and buildings and objects from ancient Greece, which were published with excerpts from Herodotus' History of the Pelopponesian Wars (Farber called this group of images "Herodotus"); and Italian villas designed by Andrea Palladio, such as the Villa Rotunda. Some pictures relating to themes of democracy were inspired by the U.S. Bicentennial celebration.
Divided into five series.
Series 1: Photographs
Series 2: Photonegatives and Contact Sheets
Series 3: Textual Materials
Series 4: Color Slides and Transparencies
Series 5: Books
Born in Cleveland, Ohio in 1902, Joseph C. Farber he attended the New York Military Academy, and later Columbia College, where his formal studies included chemistry and art composition. While these were excellent preparation for subsequent employment in the family business, Friedman Blau Farber, Manufacturers of Knitted Outerwear, at Columbia he discovered the true love of his life, the art and craft of photography. He became involved in the New York Camera Club. For the rest of his life he would consider himself a protégé of the Club's resident guru, famed photographer Edward Steichen. Farber's work was first shown in the Fifth Annual Exhibition of Work by Cleveland Artists and Craftsmen at the Cleveland Museum of Art in late spring 1923, and he taught photography to summer campers. Later, throughout 39 years of employment in the garment business, he continued to enjoy and practice photography, especially in making portraits of good friends. He married Caroline Feiss, also a Cleveland native and a promising watercolor artist. In 1939 the Farber's moved to New York.
According to his daughter, Dr. Joan Farber, her father purchased a large format Linhof field camera during a 1958 visit with his son Thomas in Germany. The Linhof camera front can be shifted to provide corrections for architectural photography which are not possible with smaller cameras. After Joan headed to college the Farbers had time for increased travel. They were accompanied by their daughter on a trip to Greece in summer 1960 which included photographs of herself, an attractive, sophisticated college coed, stylishly dressed and coifed for the occasion, posed on the steps of the Parthenon. A trip to Spain the following year resulted in many dozens of 35mm color images, part of a large group of travel slides.
This was also the period in Farber's life that a whirlwind round-the-world trip was undertaken, with visits to Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Hawaii, and California. By the end of the next year, the Farbers were renting as a vacation home a converted button factory in Essex, Connecticut, a former shipbuilding town on the Connecticut River, as a vacation home. Within months Farber had retired from his design and executive responsibilities at the Campus Sweater and Sportswear Company in Manhattan to live for a year in Essex. There were also trips more abroad, particularly to Greece and Egypt, while the Farbers continued to maintain an apartment in New York. Climbing a mountain in Greece in summer 1967, Farber suffered a heart attack, from which he fully recovered.
In 1969 his new career was launched by the publication of Portrait of Essex by Barre Publishers. Local historian Marie Moore supplied the text to accompany Farber's evocative photographs of the ships, shops, shores, streets, and historic structures of this seafaring town. His brother-in-law Carl Feiss, F.A.I.A., furnished the Introduction.
In 1971, Farber and Wendell Garrett published his first Jefferson book, The Worlds of Thomas Jefferson followed by their second, Thomas Jefferson Redivivus Garrett, who edited the Adams Papers wrote the text, with the help of excerpts from the writings of Jefferson himself. The following summer one of Farber's Monticello views was featured on the cover of Antiques. In 1973 Farber was credited with three covers and a frontispiece for the magazine, as well as three photographic essays. The subjects ranged from Sculpture at the Boston Atheneum to The Villas of Andrea Palladio to The Architecture of Lavius Fillmore Garrett introduced Farber to Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer who hired Farber as photographer to help illustrate his Prints of Abraham Lincoln, which appeared in the annual presidents' birthday number of Antiques the next year, February 1974. Some Contemporary Paintings of Abraham Lincoln appeared twelve months later. Three more Lincoln-themed articles appeared in February issues of Antiques in 1978, 1979, and 1980: Sculptures of Abraham Lincoln From Life, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, and Here Lincoln Lived: New Salem and Springfield, Illinois.
Two more books of Farber's photographs were published in 1975. Democracy's First Struggle was an account of the Peloponnesian Wars in the words of Herodotus, as edited from the Aubrey de Selincourt with translation by Farber. The photographic images dated back to the family trips to Greece in the early 1960s. Native Americans: 500 Years After was published by Thomas J. Crowell in 1975 with text by Michael Dorris. Following Native Americans came a series of exhibitions of photographs from the book including shows at the National Museum of Natural History (Smithsonian Institution), Dartmouth College, and the Cleveland Museum of Natural History .
Also in the mid -1970s a cover story in Antiques entitled "The Architectural Heritage of New York City" led to an exhibition at the Abigail Adams Smith House. In the late '70s two more exhibitions were staged, featuring scenes of local color at the dedication of the East Haddam (Connecticut) Historical Society in the summer of 1979 and showing buildings by Palladio at the Cooper-Hewitt Museum (New York City.)
In 1980 Farber's interior view of a basilica, Palladio's Redentore church in Venice, was featured on the cover of Antiques. The photographs became the subject of a book, Palladio's Architecture and Its Influence authored by architectural historian, Henry Hope Reed.
Harold Holzer organized many joint photographic trips revolving around Holzer's career in the public relations department of Channel 13, New York's public television station. Each summer for four years in succession they set off to diverse spots to make publicity shoots for upcoming special programming. First was Missouri to photograph Mark Twain sites for a dramatization of "Life Along the Mississippi". The next summer they headed to the Berkshires to document The Mount, the home of Edith Wharton in Lenox, Massachusetts, around whose life and work a mini-series in three parts was planned. The summer trip of 1982 was a return visit to Massachusetts to photograph The Street, Deerfield's historic thoroughfare, combined with a side trip across the border to the Robert Todd Lincoln home, Hildene, in Manchester, Vermont.
In 1982 Farber was commissioned by Architectural Digest magazine to photograph the Mark Twain residence in Hartford. Farber and Holzer succeeded in the early to mid-1980s in getting Farber's out-takes from their Channel 13 trips published together with his carefully worded scripts in such periodicals as American History Illustrated and in Antiques & The Arts Weekly. Many of Farber's pictures were printed in articles in Antique Trader, to which Holzer was a regular contributor. In 1983, when Farber turned 80, his color images of the interior spaces of the Metropolitan Club of New York were published in a book by the same name, written by Paul Porzelt. In his travels in the last decade of his life he was often accompanied by family friend Ethel Phillips, including a tour of Great Britain in the summer of 1987. With Mrs. Phillips he at one time had contemplated publishing a book on the historic mansions of the Hudson River. Two other unrealized projects, upon his death in 1994 at the age of 91, were books on the classical architecture of New York City and on the history and daily lives of Hispanic Americans in the United States.
Biographical Time Line:
Biographical Time Line for Joseph C. Farber
Biographical Time Line
1903 -- Born Cleveland, Ohio
1910s -- At New York Military Academy
1920s -- At Columbia College, studying chemistry, art composition; studies photography with Edward Steichen in Camera Club; teaches photography as camp counselor
1923 -- Participates in Fifth Annual Exhibition of Work by Cleveland Artists and Craftsmen at Cleveland Museum of Art (May 1-June 3)
1926 -- Takes job as "salesman and experimental worker" at Friedman Blau Farber, Mfg. Knitted Outerwear," Cleveland; Marriage to Caroline Feiss, Cleveland native and watercolor artist
1933 -- Son Thomas Feiss born at Cleveland
1936 -- Daughter Joan born
1930s -- Family moves to New York
1958 -- Visit to son in Germany; purchase of Linhof camera; daughter off to college
1960 -- Trip to Greece, daughter along
1961 -- To Spain
1963 -- Death of son in mountaineering accident; to Thailand, Japan, Hong Kong, Hawaii, California
1964 -- Rents former button factory in Essex, Connecticut as vacation home
1965 -- Retirement from Campus Sweater & Sportswear Company; Living in Essex
1966 -- To Greece
1967 -- To Egypt and Greece; heart attack ; Essex (summer?)
1969 -- Portrait of Essex published, text by Marie Moore; into by Carl Feiss, AIA (Barre)
1970 -- Trip to Bermuda
1971 -- Thomas Jefferson Redivus published, text by Wendell Garrett, Editor of The Magazine Antiques (Barre); Farber introduced to "Jefferson circle"; Vacations in Essex and Florida
1972 -- Monticello images published in Antiques
1973 -- Photographs of sculpture at the Boston Atheneum, the Maison Carree at Nimes (France): the villas of Andrea Palladio in Vicenza and environs (Italy) and the architecture of Lavius Fillmore (Connecticut and Vermont) published in Antiques
1974 -- Images of Abraham Lincoln prints published in Antiques: accompanying article is by Lincoln scholar Harold Holzer; beginning of ten-year collaboration
1975 -- Photographs of Lincoln portraits in Antiques, Holzer text Democracy's First Struggle published, based on Herodotus' Histories of Greece (Crown); Native Americans: 500 Years Afterpublished (Thomas Crowell)
1976 -- Exhibitions of photographs of Native Americans at National Museum of Natural History, Dartmouth College, and Cleveland Museum of Natural History; Images of historic New York City buildings in Antiques, text by Elizabeth Donaghty Garrett; Exhibition of photographs of New York City landmarks at Abigail Adams House, New York City.
1978 -- Photographs of Lincoln sculptures, with Holzer, in Antiques
1979 -- Images of Lincoln and George Washington, sculpture of John Rogers, and sculpture of U.S. Capitol published in Antiques, with Holzer; Exhibition of photographs at East Haddam Historical Society; Exhibition of Palladio photographs at Cooper Hewitt Museum, New York City.
1980 -- Palladio's Architecture and Its Influence published, with Henry Hope Reed (Dover) ; Venice image (church interior) published on Antiques cover; Death of wife; "Caroline Fund" established at Cooper Union; Teaches photography in local high school; To Missouri with Holzer to photograph Mark Twain sites for Channel 13
1981 -- Images of Lincoln sites published in black and white in Antiques with Holzer (should have been in color); Summer trip to Berkshires with Holzer to photograph Edith Wharton home
1982 -- Commissioned to photograph Mark Twain house in Hartford for Architectural Digest; Images of The Mount, Edith Wharton's home in Lenox, Mass., published in American History Illustrated with Holzer; Summer trip to Massachusetts and Vermont with Holzer to photograph "The Street," Deerfield (Channel 13) and Hildene, Robert Todd Lincoln home in Manchester
1983 -- Images of Mark Twain sites in Hannibal, Missouri published in American History Illustrated with Holzer; Summer trip to Harpers Ferry, West Virginia with Holzer (Channel 13); Harper's Ferry images published in Antique Trader with Holzer Deerfield, Massachusetts images published in Antiques & The Arts Weekly with Holzer; The Metropolitan Club of New York published, with Paul Porzelt (Rizzoli)
1984 -- Images of Hildene published in Antique Traderwith Holzer
1985 -- Images of Rebecca Nurse Homestead, Old Salem, Massachusetts published in Antique Traderwith Holzer
1987 -- Tour of Great Britain with Ethel Phillips (summer?)
1994 -- Died, New York City, New York
Related Archival Materials:
Other Materials at the Smithsonian Institution
National Anthropological Archives, National Museum of Natural History, Smithsonian Institution
Joseph C. Farber photographs of American Indian life, circa 1970-1975
Photographs made as part of Joseph C. Farber's project to document modern American Indian everyday life. Represented tribes include the Acoma, Apache, Blackfoot, Chehalis, Cherokee, Cheyenne, Chippewa, Cocopa, Dakota, Eskimo, Haida, Kiowa, Kutenai, Lummi, Mohave, Mohawk, Navaho, Northern Athabascan, Onandaga, Pima, Pueblo, Quinalt, Seminole, Taos, Tlingit, and Zuni. Subject coverage is broad and varies from tribe to tribe. Included are portraits, as well as totem poles, carving, weaving, pottery, painitng, landscapes, boats and canoes, ceremonial regalia, camps, classes and vocational training, homes and traditional dwellings, construction projects, rodeos and powwows, dances, industries (including lumber), herding and ranching, agriculture, stores and storefronts, cliff dwellings, parades, crab cleaning, fishing, games, health care, legal processes, music, office work, sewing, vending, and a funeral. There are also photographs of R. C. Gorman (and a letter from Gorman to Farber) and Fritz Shoulder (some in color).
Collection donated by Dr. Joan Farber, 1994.
Collection is open for research.
Photographs published in Joseph C. Farber's books are still under copyright. Reproduction permission from the Joseph C. Farber's estate is required. Other intellectual property rights may apply. Archives Center cost-recovery and use fees may apply when requesting reproductions.
Use of original material requires an appointment and is limited to the Archives' Washington, D.C. Research Center. Contact References Services for more information.
Edgar P. Richardson papers, 1814-1996, bulk 1921-1996. Archives of American Art, Smithsonian Institution.
Funding for the processing of this collection was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Collections Care and Preservation Fund.