JAMES, HENRY (1843-1916, novelist, O.M.)  PORTRAIT BY ALVIN LANGDON COBURN (1882-1966),
Lot 78
JAMES, HENRY (1843-1916, novelist, O.M.) PORTRAIT BY ALVIN LANGDON COBURN (1882-1966),
Sold for £1,560 (US$ 2,622) inc. premium
Auction Details
Lot Details
JAMES, HENRY (1843-1916, novelist, O.M.)
photogravure print, head and shoulders, in profile facing right, left hand to chin, facsimile of James's signature and plate number X on white mount, extremely fine, 8¾ x 6¾ inches (22.3 x 17.2 cm), taken for 'Men of Mark', Rye, 12 June 1906.


  • It was said of this portrait that it showed 'Henry James, caught in the act of attempting to disentangle the intricacies of one of his sentences.'

    This example is from the book form of Men of Mark, 1913, with the image separately tipped onto the mounting sheet bearing the plate number and facsimile of James's signature, not from the proof set with inscriptions by Coburn which is the source of other examples of his portraits in this catalogue.

    James and Coburn became good friends and James used twenty-four of Coburn's photogravures to illustrate his collected works. James sometimes accompanied Coburn on shoots and was so specific in his choices and directions that Coburn was led to observe: 'Mr James, although he is not literally a photographer, must have, I believe, sensitive plates in his brain with which to record his impressions. He always knew exactly what he wanted, and what we did was to browse diligently until we found such a subject. It was a great pleasure to collaborate in this way, and I number the days thus spent among my choicest recollections.'

    Below the list of plates in the printed volume it is stated: 'The Photogravures in this volume were produced under the personal supervision of the artist.' In A.L. Coburn's Men of Mark: An Exhibition Organized by the Mark Twain House & Museum, edited by Margaret Moore and Jennifer Huget, [2004] the meaning of this statement is made clear - 'Each copy of Coburn's Men of Mark (1913) is an original work of art, created under the photographer's supervision on his own copper plate press.' (p. 43). See note on Coburn at the end of the catalogue.
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