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Rare, Large Calotype of Columbia College by Victor Prevost

PREVOST, VICTOR. Columbia College

Prevost, c. 1854-55

A two-panel panorama comprising two salted paper prints from calotype negatives, signed and dated in the image, signed and inscribed by Prevost on the mount. 19 x 13 inches overall. Fine condition.

This beautiful, large salt print is among the earliest surviving photographs of Columbia College and among the earliest paper photographs of New York City. It was created using one of photography’s earliest negative making processes, the calotype.

Founded in 1754, Columbia College is the oldest college at Columbia University and the fifth-oldest college in the United States. Victor Prevost made this important photograph at the Park Place campus in 1854-55. In 1857 Columbia sold its Park Place campus for $600,000 and moved to 49th Street and Madison Avenue, near what is now Rockefeller Center. It moved to its present campus in 1897.

One of the earliest photographers to work in New York, Victor Prevost (1820-1881) studied photography in France under Paul Delaroche and with Gustave Le Gray.

In 1850 Prevost came to New York and established a studio at Broadway and Bleecker. He achieved limited commercial success, giving up photography as a career in 1857.

Paper photograph prints of New York from this earliest era of photography are rare, and master works of this size and beauty are nearly unobtainable.

VERY RARE. The principal institutional holdings of Prevost photographs are at the George Eastman House, the Museum of the City of New York, and the New York Historical Society, and to a lesser extent, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the Smithsonian.
Apart from their exposure at the Metropolitan Museum of Art show in 2003, Prevost’s work remains largely unknown to the collecting public, a reflection of its great rarity in the market.

Prevost’s body of work stands as one of the most significant in American nineteenth-century photography” — Julie Mellby, “Victor Prevost: Painter, Lithographer, Photographer,” History of Photography 35 (2011).