All my life I have enjoyed the outdoors, travelling and exploring places unknown to me. This is reflected in my growing collection which includes literature on mountaineering and 19th and 20th century exploration and photography. Here I would like to focus on work done at the intersection between the age of exploration and modern photography in the late 19th and the early/mid 20th century.
Two influential explorers in those years combined unparalleled energy and curiosity in geographic exploration with passion and mastery in writing and photography. Vittorio Sella (1859-1943) was a photographer and mountaineer from Italy. Sir Wilfred Thesiger (1910-2003) was a British writer and explorer. Both were romantics of sorts. They admired the cultures they visited and the beauty of the nature they documented. They worked under the most difficult circumstances, documenting their subject with extraordinary artistry.
Douglas W. Freshfield and Vittorio Sella.
The Exploration of the Caucasus. London: Edward Arnold, 1896.
Folio (32.5 X 25 cm). Two volumes. Original vellum backed cloth covered boards. Beveled edges. Gilt lettering on spine. 74 photogravure plates. 2 half tones. Four maps including one in the back cover. Three folding photogravure panoramas. Freshfield's magnificent work on the Caucasus illustrated with Vittorio Sella's wonderful photographs. The rare limited edition 74/100 copies.
Crevasses of Glacier Blanc, Grande Sagne and Les Ecrines, Alps. Negative date 1899, print date 1899. Silver Gelatin print 15.2 x 11.25".
Vittorio Sella (1859-1943) was from northern Italy. He was the leading large format, mountaineering photographer of the late 19th and early 20th century, renowned for his spectacular high altitude photographs of glaciers, peaks and valleys. Sella travelled the world, photographing in the European Alps, the Caucasus, Mt. Saint Elias (Alaska), and the Himalayan Sikkim. In the early 1900's he photographed mountains in Africa Ruwenzori ("Mountains of the Moon") and the Himalayan Karakoram.
Arabian Sands. London: Longman's, 1959.
First edition. One of the greatest travel books of the 20th century. Octavo, original cloth. Signed by the author. Map unopened inside. Thesiger describes his travels among the societies of the Bedouins of the Arabian peninsula. He admired the traditional cultures and regarded western civilization as a threat to those peoples' unique ways of life. Thesiger was known for his prolific writing but also produced brilliant photographic work.