Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Who was Laryew?

Photogravure, 1923

The album, or portfolio, from which the following images come was published in Paris in 1923. It is a collection of 100 loose photogravures, collected between front and back boards closed with ribbon ties.

Photogravure, 1923

The title is Nus: Cent Photographies Originales de Laryew, and it was published by the Librairie des Arts Décoratifs.

Photogavure, 1923

So who was Laryew? You will look in vain for an entry on him in any photographic reference book. That is because, in deference to the naughty subject matter, it is a pseudonym. Not a very serious one, for it is simply a scrambled version of the name under which the photographer had worked all his life, Walery.

Photogravure, 1923

Walery’s real name was Stanislaw Julian Ignacy, Count Ostroróg. He was of Lithuanian origin. He was born in 1863, the year in which his father – the original Walery – took British citizenship. The father, who was born in Lithuania, set up a photographic studio in Marseilles, then Paris, before moving to London to open a highly successful studio, first on Conduit Street, then Regent Street.

Photogravure, 1923

The son took over the business in 1890, going into partnership with Alfred Ellis until 1900, when he moved to Paris. In 2005 the National Portrait Gallery, London, staged an exhibition of work by Walery, father and son, under the title Victorian Women. All of the subjects in that show were rigidly corseted and highly respectable, unlike our daring Art Deco beauties.

Photogravure, 1923

Once he moved to Paris, our Walery added risqué studies of the girls of the Folies Bergère to his lucrative staple of high society portraits. The models for Nus are probably dancers from the Folies. Walery’s photographs of them, arranged like so many Art Deco caryatids, are now recognised as masterpieces of Art Deco photography. Walery died in 1935.

Photogravure, 1923


Unknown said...

Ostrorog Family was a polish origin one. The place of birth Mohylev was in part of common polish-lithuanian state which belonged to Grand Duchy of Lithuania inhabited by Poles, White Russians and Jews.
Write plese a work in yearly published "Dagerotyp" Nr.14 2005

Unknown said...

I own a partial copy of "Nus". It has the original portfolio cover but only 9 of the photographs. Do you know if this would have any value? I am trying to raise money for medical expenses but I know very little about selling things.

Neil said...

Hi Desi - They don't have great monetary value - and to sell them at all you'd need to find the right person. I'd suggest taking them to a gallery or shop that specialises in Art Deco items and see if they are interested.

Charlie said...

You mention that the portfolio was published in 1923. Where did you find that date? I own a couple complete "Cent Nus" and a broken set as well. Love them! Charlie.