Saturday, 18 March 2017

A Big book in many ways-Rudolf Pestalozzi, 1882-1961

For some years I have owned a copy of 'A Leica Amateurs Picture Book' by Rudolf Pestalozzi, a large publication in more ways than one.  In measure 32cm x 25cm this was published in the UK by Fountain Press in 1935 using illustrations printed  by Gebr. Fretz A.G. of Zurich.  To simply commend the quality of the production is not enough.  The whole is produced on matt paper in a way that really complements the Leica negatives and obviously a lot of expensive work went into it's preparation.  Examination of the images under a powerful lens seems to suggest gravure printing which is an excellent, and surprising, choice for 160 pages.  It elevates the work of this most gifted Amateur to that of the likes of Dr Wolff, a contemporary worker.

Reading the brief notes it is a surprise to learn the the author has just four years experience with the Leica and while he owns a Leica 111/ Summar at the time he is writing, the majority of the prints were produced with the 50mm and 90mm Elmar.  He commends the photo electric exposure meter and the Universal viewfinder but little beyond that and his equipment was not extensive.

Regarding subjects he has travelled to all parts of Europe in gathering a wide selection of subjects. All involve an original interpretation of his subjects, except a few portraits which I would judge to be personal souvenirs.  A notable exception is an available light portrait of Karl Barth as a far younger man to the usual portraits of the theologian in old age.  This makes good use of the 90 mm lens.( 1sec f6.3-Tripod)

Obviously well connected and able to roam freely across the Continent before the build up to World War Two,  Pestalozzi was a member of the well known Zurich Steel company of the same name,   His work continued after the war in more specific travel photography.

I would go as far as to say that most of his work would take a Prize at the Leica Society this year if it could be presented printed in the manner of this book!

I do not think it fair to 'lift' a print from the book but if you can get hold of a copy you will not be disappointed.