Photography was in its infancy having been invented just 40 years earlier, but in the 1860s the world finally got a glimpse of the Amazon rainforest thanks to a German photographer who went to the area for several months.
Albert Frisch managed to capture the Amazon in all its natural beauty – pure, pristine and green.
Traveling by foot and rowboat, Frisch managed to cover almost 1,000 miles in a journey lasting for five months as he headed deeper and deeper inside.
In 1867, German photographer Albert Frisch set out on a five-month journey into the Amazon rainforest
Frisch covered approximately 1,000 miles, photographing a wide variety of tribespeople and indigenous settlements
With the Amazon this year ravaged by an unprecedented number of forest fires, the photographs offer a rare glimpse into a pristine, bygone era
Frisch made photographic records of the region’s flora and fauna including aquatic life
An image of a rowboat used by Frisch during his five-month journey through the upper Amazon region
Sotheby’s describes Frisch’s mission as the ‘earliest successful photographic expedition’ to the upper Amazon region
Frisch was commissioned to carry out a photographic survey of the region.
As he did so, he documented what he saw photographing everything from the flora and fauna, fish, aquatic mammals and 35 species of plants. Remote Amazonian tribes that had never been captured on film before were also pictured.
The photographs were safely brought back to the west and now 150 years later, they are finally being auctioned at
The pictures are described by the auction house as the ‘earliest successful photographic expedition’ to the area.
They truly portray an accurate slice of life in the rainforest and of a way of life that had remained unchanged for generations.
An alligator can be seen lurking on the banks of the Amazon river in one photo while in another straw huts are seen standing in a clearing surrounded by untouched rainforest.
Frisch was commissioned to carry out a photographic survey of the region. The collection shows him capturing 35 different species of plant, as well as fish and other river animals
Photography was already popular in Brazil’s cities by the 1860s, according to Sotheby’s, but images from the country’s isolated upper Amazon region remain rare
Frisch’s photographs are on display at Sotheby’s gallery in New York and will be going under the hammer on Thursday
Some of the photos shown hint at ‘the future of trade and exploitation,’ said Sotheby’s expert Emily Bierman
Frisch took it upon himself to document everything that he saw, including this image of a dead crocodile
The images were taken over a period of five months between 1867 and 1868. The pictures were later sold
When the focus wasn’t on the animals and fish living there, the people of the Amazon were in Frisch’s viewfinder and Tribespeople posed in front of the lens including the Miranha and Ticuna people.
Sotheby’s say photography was already popular in Brazil by the 1860s but pictures from the isolated Amazon were still rare.
Frisch created the images while in the field using a technique known as the collodion process.
Along with all of his cumbersome equipment, he would create negatives on wet glass plates, before developing them in a portable darkroom.
On more complicated portrait photos he would photograph the subjects and backgrounds separately, before combining them into composite images.
Upon returning to Germany, Frisch later sold the images commercially.
A man stands in a row boat on the Amazon River. Photography was popular in n Brazil, but few had seen the Amazon
The images capture the rainforest in the most pristine manner with very little influence from the west
Frisch used an early photographic technique known as the collodion process, which saw him creating negatives on wet glass plates before developing them in a portable darkroom
Some weird and wonderful aquatic creatures were all captured on film thanks to Frisch
Buildings are seen standing alongside the Amazon River. The pictures are taken in ‘Brazil’s Upper Amazon’
Remote Amazonian tribes that had never been captured on film before were also pictured in the collection
Emily Bierman, vice president and head of the photographs department at Sotheby’s.
‘It’s anthropological, on one hand, but also — if you look at them individually or as a whole — they’re just beautiful, incredible photographs,’ Emily Bierman, vice president and head of the photographs department at Sotheby’s said to
‘The attention to composition, angles and sightlines are really quite extraordinary. There’s a lot of attention to perspective, in the natural environment but also in the photographs of huts and structures.
‘There are some images that, I think, show the beginning of some tree-felling… although perhaps that’s not all that surprising,’ Bierman said.
‘It’s a full survey, from what looks like untouched landscape through to a steamer on the river, so very much hinting at the future of trade and exploitation.’
The photos were taken during an expedition from 1867 to 1868 and published the following year
Due to early cameras’ long exposure times, Frisch often photographed sitters and backgrounds separately, before combining them into composite images
Frisch appeared to get up close to the Amazonian wildlife in order to take detailed photos of the creatures living there
The German photographer was the first to picture the region’s indigenous inhabitants, documenting its flora and fauna in encyclopedic detail along the way
Frisch encountered various settlements during his trip along the river where he would be able to stop and recharge
Almost 100 of Frisch’s images are going under the hammer at Sotheby’s New York. The collection is estimated to sell for between $70,000 and $100,000