Sugar Overloads & Dental Tragedies (In time for Halloween)

This image circa 1844, is one of the earliest photographs extent of a dentist. The head on confrontational pose is typical of early daguerreotypes, and there is a folk art aura about the picture. The demeanor of the subject presents a powerful image of strength of character in America's era of territorial expansion. He looks squarely at us, grasping his dental forceps as a symbol of his occupation. 
Dental Extraction, Ambrotype, 1857.
This ambrotype is typical of extraction images of the time. 
Dentist and Woman Patient, Daguerreotype, 1847.
This daguerreotype is highly unusual for its era, in that the patient is female. Most likely she is the dentist's or photographer's wife. By including a woman, calmly sitting in the dental chair, the dentist conveys a mannered, non-frightening image of 'painless dentistry.' The image also contains a prop. a complete dental operating kit of considerable quality. This is the only known photograph of such a set from photography's earliest era. Because of the props and pose there can be no doubt this dentist was a serious professional. Note the tooth brushes displayed in the case which do not appear in other photographs. (Image courtesy of Matthew Isenberg) 
Extracting the Tooth, Daguerreotype, 1847.
This photograph came from the collection of Leo Steffens, Chicago's revival daguerreotypist of the 1890s. Steffens tried to bring back the art of daguerreotype portraiture, and used this image as part of a widely exhibited collection of "Great images of Daguerrean Art of the 1840s and 1850s." Although the position of the dentist and his patient are typical, only a handful of daguerreotypes feature dentists posed in this way. Most photographs depict them in the classical physician-style imagery holding a tool of their trade, usually a key tooth-extractor or a pair of pliers. The dental extraction image was a specialized genre, and most often in photography's earliest years, the convention of the itinerant and quack tooth-puller.
Dental Extraction 1860s-70s.
This tintype illustrates the itinerant dentist/quack dentist type of photograph. The patient in most of these images gestures with his hands up, to stop the extraction. It often looks like the patient is praying. Photographs such as these were not the type of public image the professional dentist was anxious to present. The photographs are representative of the craftsman roots od dentistry. They have not been significantly studied or appreciated.
This card from a turn-of-the-comic-century series on tooth extraction continues the nineteenth century exaggeration and buffoonery of the hapless patient and the "painless" dentist. Taken by New York City photographer Bamforth.
Barber surgeon set containing a dental key and two forceps in a cloth case. These dental instruments were part of an early 19th century barber surgeons kit. From Smithsonian Institution, Neg. No. 43-4221. 
Dental parlor set of Dr. Herman R. Eavey. Displays of artificial dentures were part of the dental office in the late 19th century. 
D.V. Blak demonstrating his tooth models to a class at the Northwestern University Dental School. Note the section of tooth on the floor in front of the model he is pointing to. From the Nothwestern University Dental School.
The dentist in this turn of the century photograph works on a patient who wears a band around his head to hold the rubber dam in place in his mouth. Rubber dams were used to seal off the tooth being worked on from the rest of the mouth and its fluids. The Laboratory is to the right of the chair and very handy to the dentist. The sign makes it clear "No Tick Here-Strictly Cash." From Gary Lemen, Sacramento, California. 
A dentist office offers in-kind trade to attract patients during the Depression in rural Georgia.  Note the signs, partially obscured on each side of the doorway, referring to solid gold crowns and painless dentistry, two of the major selling points of american dentistry well into the 20th century. Although they were much more difficult and laborious to insert, dentists always preferred gold fillings to amalgams. From Library of Congress.
The images featured above and many more can be found in Dr.Burns' 1990 hard cover edition The American Dentist. Copies of this book can still be ordered from The Burns Press HERE.

Rock Photographer Bob Gruen's Birthday Party

Rock & Roll’s leading photographer Bob Gruen celebrated at “R” Bar with dozens of his friends. He enjoyed the company of aged rockers, photographers, publishers, writers, artists, actors, musicians and contemporary personalities. At the event Burns met with Steven Goff, owner of Global PSD who prints the Burns Archive books, as well as Rock & Roll collector and entrepreneur Larry Marion of the Not Fade Away Gallery. Marion presented Burns with an advance copy of his soon to be released book on the Stones, The Lost Rolling Stones Photographs: The Bob Bonis Archive 1964-1966.  The Stones images can be viewed and purchased at the NotFadeAwayGallery.com website. Burns has been associated with Larry and his brother Marty for over 35 years in various photographic exhibitions and publishing ventures. In 2001, Marty presented the exhibition The Collector as Photographer: The Photographs of Stanley B. Burns, MD at a New York Gallery. The party started at 7:30 and the music started after 11:30, but the next day’s work precluded staying late. 

Dr. Burns Meets Joe Beasley at his Gold Medal Dinner

     October 19th Dr. Burns met with Joe Beasley, founder of African Ascension, Georgia Congress persons and other members of various African American organizations at a dinner held in Beasley’s honor at the National Arts Club. Under discussion was displaying Burns’ traveling exhibition Shadow and Substance: African American Photographs from the Burns Archive in a Georgia institution. The show was seen in Indiana in 2009 and Maryland in 2010.
     ‘Ambassador’ Joe Beasley, the distinguished founder and President of African Ascension, was honored for his work in education. African Ascension’s mission is to expand the political, socio-economic integration and cohesion of people of African Ancestry and descent globally. Born in 1936 to Georgia sharecroppers, Beasley became one of the major leaders of Georgia’s black community and then went on to leadership roles in several national organizations. His work to improve the quality of life of people on the African Continent and those of African descent worldwide is facilitated also by the Joe Beasley Foundation, a quality of life improvement organization, focusing on social injustice, economic prosperity and education inequalities. He is a well-known personality on the African Continent as he is advisor and confidant to several African governments.


Hale House Event at Artsource International

     Dr. Burns consulted with Joyce Chasan and the members of her organization Art Source International, LLC as well as representatives of Hale House in their program of the de-acquisition of paintings. The art works by African American artists of the last half of the 20th century are being offered by Chasan in her gallery. A combined exhibition of the art works and African American photographs from the Burns Collection was proposed.
    Joyce Towbin Chasan and Thomas F Knapp hosted a reception in honor of The Hale House for the de-acquisition of their unique fine art collection of Harlem Renaissance Art. These works, acquired over the years from local artists, galleries and patrons supported the important social efforts undertaken by Mother Hale and The Hale House to care for children and families in distress.This collection represents historically important and salient examples of the best of the black art experience. Included are pieces by both members of the Harlem Renaissance movement and modern masters influenced by their vision. 


La Goulue, “The Glutton” Lautrec’s Muse, Fallen Idol of Le Moulin Rouge

©2010 The Burns Archive
Born to a laundress in Clichy France in 1866, La Goulue (nee Louise Weber) would grow up to become Paris’ Queen of the Night and muse for Toulouse-Lautrec’s posters of the Moulin Rouge.  At the age of 16 she would sneak off to dance halls dressed in the garments of her mother’s well-to-do clients.  It was around this time that she was given the nickname “La Goulue” (The Glutton) by journalist Gabriel Astruc because she would take customers’ glasses and quickly drink the contents, whatever it may be, while dancing, taking a man’s hat off with her toe, doing high kicks and raising her dress to show the red-embroidered hearts on her underwear. 

© 2010 The Burns Archive
La Goulue then met Auguste Renoir and became his model.  He then introduced her to a group of local artists and photographers who also used her modeling services. One of which, Achille Delmaet, took many nude photographs of her.  She soon became acquainted with Joseph Oller, co-owner of “Le Moulin Rouge,” where she began dancing in 1889.  La Goulue began dancing with Jacques Renaudin known as “Valentin le Desosse” or Valentin the Boneless because of his skeletal, lanky frame which he moved liked rubber.  They were soon immortalized in Lautrec’s most famous poster “Moulin Rouge – La Goulue.”  La Goulue was the main attraction because of her outlandish antics and she soon became a headliner at the Moulin Rouge (and would be for the next 6 years.)  She was the highest paid entertainer of her day.  

© 2010 The Burns Archive
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© 2010 The Burns Archive
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La Goulue, fiercely ambitious and partly blinded by fame, left Le Moulin Rouge to start her own dance hall.  When that failed she tried her hand at belly dancing in a traveling fairground booth, but that too failed.  After years of failed business ventures, Le Goulue was a destitute alcoholic selling peanuts, cigarettes and matches on the streets.  On a couple of occasion Maruice Chevalier and Jean Gabin brought her into Le Moulin Rouge and presented her to the audience that did not recognize this obese, aging woman.  She eventually died homeless and penniless in 1929.  She was so transformed from the muse of the Toulouse-Lautrec and darling of Le Moulin Rouge, that she had a hard time convincing the priest that she was indeed La Goulue. In 1992 her ashes were moved to "Cimetière de Montmartre” in a state official ceremony by order of Jacque Chirac, then mayor of Paris.  

La Goulue Poster, Moulin Rouge, Toulouse-Lautrec, 1891
La Goulue Arrivant au Moulin Rouge, Renoir, 1892

For additional information, please see the following websites: 


First Exposé of Yvon Medical Photographs

By invitation of the National Arts Club French committee, on October 13 Robert Stevens presented his exposé of the unappreciated French scenic photography of Yvon.

©2010 The Burns Archive
Consultation at the Tuberculosis Clinic
©2010 The Burns Archive
Pauline Hall
©2010 The Burns Archive
Anti-Tuberculosis Clinic- Checking the Ear, Nose & Throat
©2010 The Burns Archive
Postcard Back for 'Pauline Hall'

The Photographs Above are Rare Yvon Postcards Commissioned by The Hospital School of the Society for the Aid of Wounded Military, France, c.1920s (From the Collection of Stanley B. Burns, MD)

Pierre Yves Petit (1886-1969) took the name Yvon so as not be confused with the noted mid-nineteenth century photographer. He was France's greatest postal card photographer having produced France’s most popular cards of the country. Robert Steven’s new tome Yvon’s Paris documents the work of this amazing photographer whose specialty was taking photographs in adverse conditions, especially rain. His dawn and sunset images of Paris and other localities are masterpieces of light and shadow. While deltiologists (postcard collectors) worldwide appreciate Yvon’s work, he is unappreciated in the photographic art world because he produced postcards and not photographic prints for sale.

Stevens has collected Yvon for about thirty years and was pleased and surprised when Dr. Burns’ showed him his commissioned medical photographs by Yvon. Stevens had never run across them in his decades of collecting and studying the artist with his family and the Yvon photo archive. Dr. Burns has dozens of Yvon medical photographs in his collection and here we present three of these rare Yvon medical photographs for the first time. Stevens commented “they are as beautiful in tone and color as his other works and they were all taken indoors.”


Lecture on the History of the Burns Collection Exhibitions and Publications at Flair Symposium, Harry Ransom Center

Dr. Burns Outside the Harry Ransom Center
Between September 30 and October 2, 2010 The Harry Ransom Center, University of Texas, Austin held its Ninth Biennial Flair Symposium, the first devoted to photography. In association with the event the H.R.C. presented its most revered photographic treasures. A landmark exhibition showcasing the Gernsheim Collection and in conjunction presented Roy Flukinger’s spectacular text on the Gernsheims. The seminar consisted of lectures and panels about photographic collecting, exhibition, publication, and comments by noted photographers on producing and teaching photography. Helmut Gernsheim was the seminal collector who was able to acquire the earliest photographs taken by the discoverers of photography and also of the significant innovators who followed them up to the modern era. The Gernsheim Collection bought by the Harry Ransom Center includes the worlds first photograph taken by Niepce in 1827 as well as Daguerre’s first daguerreotypes. Roy Flukinger’s landmark catalog documents not only the Gernsheims’ accomplishments but also presents a detailed history of nineteenth and twentieth century photography.
Thomas F. Staley, Director of the Harry Ransom Center 
Discovering the Language of Photography:
The Gernsheim Collection Exhibition
In the 1950s-70s the Gernsheims along with MOMA’s Beaumont Newhall wrote texts on the history of photography which became road maps for scholars, curators and collectors. But their texts mainly emphasized the British, French and American pioneers with some German innovators. The following scholars continued the trend set by these original pioneers in the study of art photography and innovators. Collecting and discovering the amateur and journeyman photographers remained a fertile field for collecting for Burns and others interested in history, culture and changing nature of life and living through the lens.
Photography's Historiography Panel (Moderated by David Coleman)
J. B. Colson, Alison Nordström, Marta Weiss and Bodo von Dewitz
Dr. Burns was invited to speak at the seminar honoring Helmut Gernsheim as his collection and work is parallel to Gernsheim’s. The Burns’ accomplishments reflects the second critical aspect of photographic history, one that is now just becoming generally appreciated. Like Gernsheim’s, Burns’ collection in its field is without peer. Burns collects and emphasizes photography’s utilitarian use by people, professions and cultures. In dozen’s of subjects and through 43 books Burns has laid down the basics of the use of photography, now popularized by many as ‘vernacular’ photography. Gernsheim spearheaded collecting and writing about innovators and the art of photography. Modern photo historians and collectors following Gernsheim’s precedents are generally interested in this thread of photographic history which represents the innovators of each generation who used cameras and photographic processes in new or creative ways. 
Dr. Burns Speaks about the History of
The Burns Collection and Exhibitions & Publications
The history of photography as Burns points out is two fold, especially in the United States where photography was ubiquitous and was able to be practiced by everyone. Dr. Burns has avoided collecting popular genres such as entertainment and sports photography. In almost all other fields and in dozens of specific subjects Burns’ collection is the pioneer effort and accumulation. In several fields Burns’ texts are similarly the road maps for future collectors, scholars and curators. Some of the generally recognized topics of the Burns Collection are memorial photography, painted tintypes, photographic frames, manipulated photography, medical, forensic, African American, war and Judaic photography.
Displaying a Slide of 'Dissected Head, 1905'
Other images/topics discussed in the lecture:
Exhibit at University of Albany Art Museum
Searching the Criminal Body: Art, Science, Prejudice
©2010 The Burns Archive
Only Surviving Photo from Paris Morgue Identification Day, c.1880s
©2010 The Burns Archive
The Three Stripers- Low Risk Inmates at Sing Sing Prison, c. 1890
More images from the Fleur Cowles Flair Symposium:


Newsweek Special Feature- History Revealed: Rare and Unusual Images from the Burns Archive

Please visit our Newsweek feature where over 25 photographs and stories are on view along with a video interview with Dr.Burns about his collection.  Click HERE to view the story on Newsweek.com

(Click twice on the video above to see full-frame ) 

Below is a small sampling of the images featured

©2010 The Burns Archive
Women in an Opium Den, 1890
“[Birth] pains may be palliated by he exhibition of a large opiate immediately after delivery, and the repetition of a smaller dose every six to eight hours,” wrote a Scottish doctor in an 1813 book titled “A Treatise on the Management of Female Complaints.” Such was the policy of many 19th century physicians, who prescribed opium for menstrual cramps and other “female complaints” without much regard for the drug’s highly addictive properties. Here, two women lie in a den where they could smoke the pain reliever. In the next century, when new technology allowed opium to be injected into the bloodstream, abuse of the drug became even more common.

©2010 The Burns Archive
Bloodletting, the Backbone of Medical Therapy for 3,000 Years
Bloodletting dates back to the ancient Egyptians and Greeks, and was a central part of medical practice into the 19th century. Here, by Burns’s reckoning, is one of only three known photographs of the procedure, which purportedly had a calming effect on an ill, feverish, agitated, or delirious patient, but could often lead to shock or even causes death due to the problems it would cause in the body’s cardiovascular system. 

Burns Archive Photos to be Featured in PBS Series 'God in America'

Watch the full episode. See more FRONTLINE.

PBS Series God in America airs October 11, 12, & 13, 2010

Produced and Directed by Sarah Colt
God in America examines the potent and complex interaction between religion and democracy, the origins of the American concept of religious liberty, and the controversial evolution of that ideal in the nation's courts and political arena. The series considers the role religious ideas and institutions have played in social reform movements from abolition to civil rights, examining the impact of religious faith on conflicts from the American Revolution to the Cold War, and how guarantees of religious freedom created a competitive American religious marketplace.