Ernest J. Bellocq (American/New Orleans, 1873-1949), “Untitled, c. 1912 (Storyville Girl)”, silver gelatin print, printed from glass plate negative by Dan Leyrer in the early 1960’s, 8 in. x 10 in. Excellent condition. Very rare print!
Provenance: Estate of Larry Borenstein.
Note: After Ernest Bellocq’s death a set of glass plate negatives he did of the prostitutes of New Orleans’ notorious Storyville District were discovered. These glass plate negatives turned up in Sal Ruiz’s antique shop and eventually came into the possession of Larry Borenstein. At the request of Borenstein, New Orleans photographer Dan Leyrer made a set of prints from the negatives in the early 1960s. Borenstein stored Bellocq’s negatives in an old bathroom in the slave quarters behind Preservation Hall. Unfortunately, the negatives sustained water damage from a leaky roof during Hurricane Betsy in 1965.
Lee Friedlander acquired Bellocq’s glass plate negatives from Larry Borenstein in 1967 and exhibited the prints he made from them at the Museum of Modern Art in 1970. This print of “Untitled, c. 1912” is particularly rare since its printing precedes the well-known Lee Friedlander prints. Friedlander’s print shows damage in the upper right corner that is not visible in Leyrer’s print proving that it was printed before the water damage occurred.
Ref: Rose, Rex, and “The Last Days of Ernst J. Bellocq”, Exquisite Corpse: A Journal of Letters and Life, 1999.