LANG, ANDREW (1844-1912, Scottish poet)
PORTRAIT BY ALVIN LANGDON COBURN (1882-1966), photogravure, proof before letters (no printed plate number or facsimile signature), head and shoulders, 'ANDREW LANG' WRITTEN IN PENCIL ON THE MOUNT BY COBURN HIMSELF, tipped onto a mount different from the printed version, framed and glazed, size of image 11 x 9 inches (27 x 22 cm), overall size 17 x 14 inches (43 x 35 cm), taken for 'Men of Mark', St. Andrews, 2 January 1910
Coburn wrote of this sitting, having first received a refusal: 'I received the following characteristic reply, dated from St. Andrews, July 26th, 1904. "Dear Sir," the letter ran, "I fear the telephotographic process which would enable you to photograph me has not yet been perfected. Sincerely yours, A. Lang." I wrote to him by return that I had crossed the Atlantic with the express object of making photographs of himself and his literary and artistic contemporaries, that the slight additional distance of 420 miles seemed a mere trifle to me, therefore a day was appointed. I was gone from London four days in all, one day for the journey up to St. Andrews, and then the next morning, refreshed by a night's rest, I made the photographs, and the afternoon Mr. Lang devoted to showing me the antiquities of the place. I remember he sat on a tomb in the old churchyard, while I took photographs, and I recall a tale he told me, suggested probably by the old graves, of how long ago there used to appear strange jewellery in the antique shops, for a churchyard had been reclaimed by the sea. He also took me through a dim library full of old tomes in numberless quantities. There is always an aroma about aged volumes, the incense of learning one might call it. I often wish I might have made my portrait of Andrew Lang in this atmosphere of books, where he spent so much of his time, instead of in his garden, but there probably would not have been sufficient light. My mental portrait of him is there, lovingly turning the pages of a favourite author, or showing me some rare manuscript.'
Coburn personally supervised the creation of his photogravures on his own copper plate press.