More About Fred Holland Day

With Suggested Readings

Solitude, Fred Holland Day by Eduard J. Steichen

We appreciate your interest in the life and work of Fred (not Frederick) Holland Day (1864-1933). There have been some errors in Day scholarship in the recent past which unfortunately have been perpetuated. In order to assist you in your research, we have compiled the most common errors and offer a suggested reading list.

Common Errors

The black model who figured so prominently in Day's work was not his employee Alfred Tanneyhill, although Estelle Jussim identifies him as such in her biography of Day. Jussim corrected this mistake in "F. Holland Day's 'Nubians'" History of Photography, 7(2), April/June 1983, 131-41. The topic of Day and his African American models is also the subject of Barbara Michaels' "New Light on F. Holland Day's Photographs of African Americans" History of Photography, 18(4), Winter 1994, 334-47.

Ebony, 1899

Hypnos, c. 1896

There is no evidence that Day had a sexual relationship with any of his models. Although Jussim implied that such relationships were possible and others have perpetuated this assumption, further research by Patricia Berman in "F.Holland Day and his 'Classical' Models: Summer Camp" (History of Photography, 18(4), Winter 1994, 348-67) and Verna Curtis in "F. Holland Day and the Staging of Orpheus" (New Perspectives on F.Holland Day, N. Easton, MA: Stonehill College, 1998, 51-60) have more completely addressed these issues.

Contrary to Jussim's assertion, the fire in his studio in November of 1904 did not hasten Day's withdrawal from artistic circles and activity or devastate him personally. By the end of November, he was seeking temporary studio space; in early 1905, he completed his long planned trip to Hampton, Virginia and Ohio; and, by late 1905, he had opened another studio at 3 River Place in Boston which he maintained until 1916. What is more, Day had begun to withdraw from major exhibitions and publications earlier.

Kahlil Gibran
Kahlil Gibran, c. 1896

Negro with Hat Negro with Hat, Seated, c. 1897

Alice Brown did not burn the letters of Fred Holland Day to Louise Imogen Guiney after Guiney's death. The history of this error has been documented in Patricia Fanning's "'The Frame We Have Invented:' Culture, Biography, and the Friendship of Fred Holland Day and Louise Imogen Guiney," New Perspectives on F. Holland Day, N. Easton, MA: Stonehill College, 1998, 7-12.

F. Holland Day was not snubbed by the Photo-Secessionists. He was invited to join on a number of occasions but refused. He also refused to allow an exhibit of his work at the Photo-Secession galleries and to have his work reproduced in their journal.

Suggested Readings

Fanning, Patricia J., Through an Uncommon Lens: The Life and Photography of F. Holland Day, Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 2008.

Curtis, Verna Posever and Jane Van Nimmen (eds.), F. Holland Day, Selected texts and bibliography, Oxford, England: ABC-Clio Press, 1995).

Curtis, Verna Posever (guest editor), History of Photography, vol. 18, no. 4 (Winter 1994).

Fanning, Patricia (ed.), New Perspectives on F. Holland Day, (N. Easton, MA: Stonehill College and Norwood Historical Society, 1998).

F. Holland Day. Exhibition catalogue to accompany exhibition, "Art and the Camera: The Photographs of F. Holland Day," Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. (2001).

Revised: 11/20/11