Selections from The American Museum of Photography (SM)
George Kendall Warren (1834-1884): “View of Plain from Interior of Sally Port”
Albumen print, 5.75 x 7.75 inches, 1868
G. K. Warren operated studios in Boston and Cambridge, Massachusetts and was America’s leading photographer of college yearbooks during the 1860s and early 1870s. Warren’s class albums were illustrated with actual photographic prints of students, faculty members and campus. In addition to producing albums for the U. S. Military Academy at West Point (for which this photograph was taken) Warren was the official photographer for at least 15 universities, including Harvard, Yale and Princeton.
A Sally Port is a fortified gateway or a portal in a fort that allows the passage of a large number of troops. The Plain is a large grassy area, once the site of battle training at West Point. Today, it is used as a place for the cadets’ daily formation and as the Academy’s central parade ground.
This image must rank with G.K. Warren’s very best landscape work, even though its central subject is nothing more than a large grassy field. The dramatic framing arch acts like the proscenium of a theater, focusing attention on the Plain. The effect is heightened by the soft glow of light entering the Sally Port and causing the subtle textures of the wall to emerge gradually from the shadows.
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