June 20, 2012 08:00 PM EDT Cincinnati


Robert Linn with his Stereoview Camera, Lookout Mountain, Civil War Photograph by I.H. Bonsall

Albumen photograph depicting photographer Robert "Royan" Linn posed with his assistants and his stereoview camera on Lookout Mountain, Tennessee, ca 1863, 8.5 x 10.75 in., on 15 x 18 in. mount, featuring ink borders and calligraphy title: Point Lookout, Lookout Mt. / Tennessee River in the Distance. Linn, an Ohio photographer who established a lucrative photographic business with his brother at Point Lookout in late 1863, poses at far right, seated in front of his stereoview camera. Accompanied by a ca 1910 silver gelatin copy photograph of I.H. Bonsall's studio in Arkansas City, Kansas, ca 1875, with several examples of Bonsall's work hanging on display, including the photograph of Linn at Lookout Mountain, which can be seen in the framed group of images at the far left. With penciled identification on verso. 

Isaac H. Bonsall (1833-1909), an ambrotypist and photographer active in Leavenworth, Kansas, ca 1859-1860, Kansas City, Kansas in 1860, and Cincinnati, Ohio, ca 1862-1863, served in the Army of the Cumberland as a photographer beginning in September 1862. He apprenticed under Mathew Brady. Initially, his duties were to photograph maps at their headquarters in Cincinnati, but he later traveled with the army to Tennessee, broadening his subjects to include portraiture and Civil War-related landscapes. During the Union Army's six-month siege of Chattanooga, Tennessee in 1863, Bonsall spent much of his time photographing the areas surrounding nearby battle sites, including Lookout Mountain, where the Army of the Cumberland contributed to the Union victory on November 24, 1863. This beautifully composed portrait of Linn with fellow photographers or assistants was almost certainly taken by Bonsall during this period of time. (Information obtained from The Metropolitan Museum of Art Website, Apr. 26, 2012.)

Following the Civil War, Bonsall ran a photography studio in Cincinnati, listed as being open from 1869-1871, but moved to Arkansas City, Kansas, in 1872, where he set up a gallery, photographing everything from street scenes to "Boomers," such as Captains David L. Payne and William L. Couch before they departed for Oklahoma Territory. Bonsall was teacher to photographer William S. Prettyman, who subsequently became a primary source for photographs of American Indians in the Indian Territory. Although Bonsall also produced images of American Indians at this time, it has been said that his age kept him from traveling around the Indian Territory and from becoming a forerunner in American Indian photography. (Information obtained from the City of Arkansas Website, Apr. 26, 2012.)

This is only the third example of Bonsall's work that Cowan's has had the opportunity to offer at auction. 


Light, even toning to photograph; tones remain rich; few scattered stains on mount. Small diagonal tear extending from upper left edge of photograph, done prior to photograph being mounted on cardstock. 

Price Realized Including Buyer's Premium

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