Joint Meeting of the Railway Surgeons Association, Claypool Hotel, Indianapolis

Collection in Focus: Mixed Media Portraits

Joel Smith, the Richard L. Menschel Curator of Photography, discusses the ways that various artistic media can overlap and intersect. In this case, we examine photography, drawing, and sculpture.

Download image: 
Gravelle Studio
Gelatin silver print.
9 x 26 inches (22.86 x 66.04)
Purchased as the gift of Peter J. Cohen.
Curatorial Comments: 

The conventioneers in this 8x20 inch view-camera photograph belong to an aging brotherhood. Railway surgeons--pioneers of the modern practice of trauma medicine--spent their careers attending to the grave injuries of railway workers, often in challenging conditions far from any hospital. In testimony to the photographer's industriousness, each of the sixty-four attendees of the Indianapolis convention was prevailed upon to sign the negative before their three-day meeting ended. Their group portrait thus serves as both a visual memento of the event and an attendance list enriched by a conventional signifier of character: handwriting.

Winter Works on Paper, Inc., Brooklyn, NY.
Inscribed in negative, upper right: "Joint Meeting / of the / Railway Surgeons / Association / Pennsylvania Lines / East and West of Pittsburg."; inscribed in negative, upper right: "Claypool Hotel. Indianapolis Ind., Oct. 18-19-20. 1920"; signed in negative, upper right: "Photo / By / Gravelle / 814N Meridian / Indianapolis"; numbers 1-64 inscribed in negative in front of each subject; 64 signatures inscribed in negative along lower half.