Stereoview of a Locomotive in Irondale, Missouri by Robert Benecke ca. 1875
Stereoview of a Locomotive, Irondale, Missouri by Robert Benecke ca. 1875
Photographer: Robert Benecke, St Louis, Missouri, USA
Date: ca. 1875
In good condition but for a stain in the uypper half of the left hand image.
Robert Benecke (January 25, 1835 – November 3, 1903) was a German-born American photographer, operating primarily out of St. Louis in the latter half of the 19th century. Along with portraits, his works included photographs of railroads, bridges, buildings, and steamboats. He received considerable acclaim for his exhibit at the 1869 St. Louis Fair, and was among the earliest Americans to experiment with the artotype process in the early 1870s. He later turned to dry plate manufacturing, and worked as an editor for the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer in the 1890s.
Early in his career, Benecke was inspired by Charles Waldack's Treatise of Photography on Collodion. Benecke's studio in the late 1850s advertised ambrotypes and daguerreotypes, and offered copying and enlargement services. By late 1860, he was offering melainotypes and photo coloring services (namely coloring photos using water colors or oils). By the early 1880s, he was working almost exclusively with artotypes.
Benecke photographed numerous places in St. Louis and its vicinity throughout his career, including steamboats, bridges, streets, and panoramic views. One of his most popular stereo card collections featured the Eads Bridge in its various phases of construction. In 1883, he provided several artotypes for a guide and history of Tower Grove Park.
Benecke was writing articles on photography as early as the late 1850s, when he was submitting articles to Snelling's Photographic and Fine-Art Journal. During the 1870s and 1880s, Benecke wrote articles on topics ranging from improvising with minimal equipment to how to select and care for lenses. As an editor for the St. Louis and Canadian Photographer, Benecke wrote a column, "Echoes from Europe," which provided a summary of articles translated from German and French photography journals.
In an 1888 article, Benecke gave insight into the process he used to create stereo cards. He suggested using two achromatic lenses of "six inches focus" placed 3 inches (76 mm) apart. He noted that careful attention should be paid to trimming and mounting the finished images, arguing that errors during this part of the process were frequently to blame for the double images not matching one another or lining up. He bemoaned the lack of interest in stereo cards among younger photographers.
Benecke's photographs are now part of the collections of the New York Public Library, the J. Paul Getty Museum, and Southern Methodist University.