University of Texas, Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Alvin Langdon Coburn:

An Inventory of His Collection at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center

Creator: Coburn, Alvin Langdon, 1882-1966
Title: Alvin Langdon Coburn Collection,
Dates: ca. 1904-1963
Extent: 58 items in 6 boxes
Repository: Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center, The University of Texas at Austin

Scope and Contents

Alvin Langdon Coburn was born in Boston in 1882, and his interest in photography began eight years later. In addition to being a founding member of the Photo-Secession in 1902, he became a member of the Linked Ring in 1903. He was also associated with Wyndham Lewis and the Vorticist group in 1917-18. Having emigrated to England in 1912, he became a naturalized British citizen in 1932. He died in Colwyn Bay, Wales in 1966. He is known for the pictorial effects he achieved in his portraits and views, thus helping to confirm the medium's place as an art form.

The collection is subdivided into three lots: I. Portraits from Men of Mark, 1904-1913 (34 items), II. Loose Prints (subdivided into portraits, views, abstract), 1904-1950, n.d. (16 items), and III. Portraits of Helmut Gernsheim, 1963 (8 items). The items in the first lot make up a complete set, including one duplicate, of signed and mounted proof prints of photogravures produced by Coburn himself (cf. Gernsheim Inventory #6) for his Men of Mark series, published London: Duckworth & Co., 1913. Two printed advertisements for this series are included with these items. The subjects are mainly British and Irish authors and artists, such as G.K. Chesterton, H.G. Wells, and G. Bernard Shaw. Among the six portraits of Americans are Henry James, Mark Twain, and the photographer Clarence H. White. There are also portraits of two French artists, Auguste Rodin and Henri Matisse, as well as one of German sociologist Max Weber. The second lot contains six portraits, including one of Coburn himself by an unidentified photographer. There are also nine views and one abstract photograph. Among the views are scenes of Holland and Bavaria, Germany, as well as cityscapes of London and New York. The abstract photograph is one of Coburn's series of images which he called "vortographs."

The item list which follows gives the accession no., genre, title/description, date, format/process, dimensions in cm. and location of each item. Bracketed titles and dates have been taken either from Gernsheim Inventory #6 or from labels produced in-house. Two exceptions to this are the dates for the portraits of Moore (964:0428:0003) and Coburn, which have been estimated by the cataloger. Unless indicated otherwise, the photogravures are signed, mounted proof prints produced by Coburn himself. In the case of signed images, the dimensions include the border area in which the signature is located. The item list is followed by an index of names of the subjects of the portraits.



Open for research

Administrative Information


Purchases, 1964-66

Processed by:

Susan McClellan, 2000

Alvin Langdon Coburn Collection--Item List

I. Portraits from Men of Mark, 1904-1913
(34 items)

1 Portrait. G. Bernard Shaw (bust; shoulders oblique with face turned to right towards camera) [1904]
Photogravure.22.2 × 17.3
Portrait. G. K. Chesterton (bust with right shoulder out of frame; front view; face slightly oblique) [1904]
Photogravure.22.2 × 17.4
Portrait. Andrew Lang (bust; oblique view) [1904]
Photogravure.22.5 × 17.6
Portrait. Frank Brangwyn (bust; oblique view; holding cup-like object in left hand) [1904]
Photogravure.22.2 × 17.4
Portrait. George Meredith (bust; almost full right profile) [1904]
Photogravure.22.7 × 17.1
Portrait. H. G. Wells (bust; slightly oblique view with face resting on left hand) [1905]
Photogravure.22.2 × 17.3
Portrait. Edward Carpenter (bust; front view; left hand extended, pointing to right with index finger) [1905]
Photogravure.23.1 × 17
Portrait. H. Granville Barker (bust; oblique view) [1906]
Photogravure.22.1 × 16.9
Portrait. A. Rodin (bust; slightly oblique view; in brimless black hat) [1906]
Photogravure.28.3 × 17.3
Portrait. Henry James (bust; right profile; left hand touching chin) [1906]
Photogravure.21.6 × 17.5
Portrait. Arthur Symons (bust; front view; holding chin with right hand) [1907]
Photogravure.22.8 × 16.9
Portrait. J. S. Sargent (bust with right shoulder outside of frame; front view) [1907]
Photogravure.22.3 × 16.9
2 Portrait. Charles Shannon (bust; left profile) [1907]
Photogravure.22.5 × 17.4
Portrait. Theodore Roosevelt (bust with left shoulder out of frame; front view) [1907]
Photogravure.21.8 × 17.5
Portrait. William Orpen (bust; slightly oblique view) [1908]
Photogravure.22.2 × 17.7
Portrait. Max Beerbohm (full length; front view, in front of door with right hand on hip and left on doorknob) [1908]
Photogravure.22.1 × 17.5
Portrait. H. Belloc (bust; right profile) [1908]
Photogravure.22.1 × 17.1
Portrait. George Moore (full length; left side view, in front of window with curtains, leaning slightly over polished table; holding and examining object resembling dead bird) [1908]
Photogravure.23 × 17.6
Portrait. W. B. Yeats (bust; front view; lips slightly parted as if speaking) [1908]
Photogravure.22.6 × 17.4
Portrait. William Nicholson (bust; right profile) [1908]
Photogravure.22.1 × 17.3
Portrait. William De Morgan (bust; front view) [1908]
Photogravure.22.8 × 17.5
Portrait. Mark Twain (3/4 length; body slightly oblique with face in almost full right profile; right hand behind back, left slightly extended with cigar between index and middle fingers) [1908]
Photogravure.23 × 16.3
Portraits. John Galsworthy (bust; front view) [1909]
Photogravure.22.1 × 17.3
Portrait. J. M. Barrie (bust; front view) [1909]
Photogravure.22.8 × 17
Portrait. Herbert Trench (bust; front view) [1910]
Photogravure.22.6 × 16.9
3 Portrait. W. D. Howells (bust; oblique view) [1910]
Photogravure.22.3 × 17.3
Portrait. Max Weber (bust; shoulders forward, face oblique) [1911]
Photogravure.23.1 × 16.8
Portrait. Clarence H. White (bust; oblique view) [1912]
Photogravure.23.4 × 17.5
Portrait. John Masefield (bust; shoulders oblique, face turned towards camera) [1913]
Photogravure.22.4 × 17.5
Portrait. Arnold Bennett (bust; face slightly oblique) [1913]
Photogravure.22 × 16.7
Portrait. Roger Fry (bust; shoulders forward, face oblique) [1913]
Photogravure.21.9 × 17.2
Portrait. Robert Bridges [1844-1930] (bust; right profile) [1913]
Photogravure.23.8 × 17.6
Portrait. Henri Matisse (3/4 length; front view; in smock with left elbow resting on step of ladder, palette and brushes in left hand) [1913]
Photogravure.22.7 × 18

II. Loose prints, 1904-ca. 1950, n.d.
(16 items)

4 Portrait. [Semi-nude woman with vase] (left side view of a woman squatting before a large vase the top of which she is touching with her hands; there is a cloth draped over her legs and another wrapped around her head like a turban) [n.d.]
Photogravure.10.4 × 12
Portrait. [Portrait of a young woman] (1/2 length; front view; light skin of face, neck, and right hand contrast sharply with dark clothing and background) [c. 1912]
Photogravure.14 × 10.7
Portrait. George Moore (different image from one in Men of Mark; bust; front view, face slightly oblique) [1908?]
Photogravure.22.5 × 17.3
Portrait. [George Meredith] (signed by the subject below image; same image as in Men of Mark but smaller print; bust; almost full right profile) [1904]
Photogravure.12.3 × 9.3
Portrait. Alfred Stieglitz (circular image; bust; right profile) 1905
Photogravure.19.3 × 17.8
Portrait. [Alvin Langdon Coburn] (by unidentified photographer; 3/4 length; front view; face slightly oblique; wearing trappings of Freemasonry) [c. 1950]
Gelatin silver print.16.4 × 12
View (Cityscape) London Bridge (pedestrian and vehicular traffic on bridge, which bisects image diagonally; buildings visible on bank in background) 1905
Photogravure.14.3 × 11.2
View (Marine) [River scene with boats in foreground] (sailboats with sails furled; trees and buildings visible on opposite bank) [n.d.]
Photogravure.19.9 × 24.7
5 View (Marine) [Rotterdam] (boats and their reflections in the water) [1908]
Photogravure.32.2 × 40.7
View. Dinkelsbuhl, Bavaria (two peasants with ox-drawn cart coming through arched passageway in building with shuttered windows) 1908
Photogravure.38.4 × 29.5
View. Roth, Bavaria (steeple and part of church roof seen in distance through two trees in foreground) 1908
Photogravure.39.7 × 30
View (Townscape) [Isle of Machen] (view of town from field outside it; sky fills 2/3 of frame) [1908]
Photogravure.30 × 40.9
6 View (Cityscape) [St. Paul's Cathedral] (hazy scene with cathedral in upper left corner and a cloud of smoke in lower left corner; a street with traffic and blurry buildings visible in lower right corner) [1908]
Photogravure.40.8 × 30.4
View (Landscape) [Bavarian landscape] (view of a field bordered by trees with what appears to be a figure in it; sky fills 2/3 of frame) [1908]
Photogravure.38.8 × 28.2
5 View (Cityscape) Singer Building (Noon) [on p. [1] of [4] p. printed advertisement for New York, published volume of 20 images of the city by Coburn] 1910
Photogravure.11.3 × 3.6 (image, on leaf 28 × 21.3)
4 Abstract photograph. Vortograph (non-figurative image produced with an instrument composed of 3 mirrors put together in the form of a triangle) 1917
Gelatin silver print.21.3 × 16.4

III. Portraits of Helmut Gernsheim, 1963
(8 items)

5 Portraits. [Helmut Gernsheim] (series of 8 poses, in coat and tie, seated with one or both elbows on polished table) 1963
Gelatin silver print.22 × 14.2

Alvin Langdon Coburn Collection--Subject Index

Title/Description--Accession No.

  • Barrie, J. M.--964:0065:0025
  • Beerbohm, Max--964:0065:0016
  • Belloc, H.--964:0065:0017
  • Bennett, Arnold--964:0065:0031
  • Brangwyn, Frank--964:0065:0004
  • Bridges, Robert--964:0065:0033
  • Carpenter, Edward--964:0065:0007
  • Chesterton, G. K.--964:0065:0002
  • Coburn, Alvin Langdon--964:0428:0006
  • De Morgan, William--964:0065:0021
  • Fry, Roger--964:0065:0032
  • Galsworthy, John--964:0065:0023-0024
  • Gernsheim, Helmut--966:0002:0001-0008
  • Granville Barker, H.--964:0065:0008
  • Howells, W. D.--964:0065:0027
  • James, Henry--964:0065:0010
  • Lang, Andrew--964:0065:0003
  • Masefield, John--964:0065:0030
  • Matisse, Henri--964:0065:0034
  • Meredith, George--964:0065:0005; 964:0428:0004
  • Moore, George--964:0065:0018; 964:0428:0003
  • Nicholson, William--964:0065:0020
  • Orpen, William--964:0065:0015
  • Rodin, A.--964:0065:0009
  • Roosevelt, Theodore--964:0065:0014
  • Sargent, J. S.--964:0065:0012
  • Shannon, Charles--964:0065:0013
  • Shaw, G. Bernard--964:0065:0001
  • Stieglitz, Alfred--964:0428:0005
  • Symons, Arthur--964:0065:0011
  • Trench, Herbert--964:0065:0026
  • Twain, Mark--964:0065:0022
  • Weber, Max--964:0065:0028
  • Wells, H. G.--964:0065:0006
  • White, Clarence H.--964:0065:0029
  • Yeats, W. B.--964:0065:0019