[Uruguay]: [S.n., Chute y Brooks(?)], [ca. 1880]. Vintage photo album. In burgundy pebbled cloth, gilt title, and ornament on the front panel. 22 albumen prints mounted on album card leaves with printed decorative border and printed caption beneath. 22 albumen prints. Plate size: ca. 385 × 320 mm; Image size: ca. 237 × 170 mm. Binding rubbed, faded, corners bumped, with some damages to the extremities. One card damaged at the corner, with no effect on the photo. The first and last leaves are spotted, stained, with slight effect to the edges of the first and the last two photographs. The photos are sharp with rich tonal ranges, generally in fine condition. Overall the album is in very good condition.
Early photo album of Montevideo, with scarce urban and ethnographic scenes of the city and the surroundings. The album consists of twenty-two albumen prints, of which eighteen show panoramas, streets and urban environment, the emblematic places of Montevideo, capital of Uruguay. Founded in 1726, by 1875 the city already had a population of 110,000 and had become one of the finest urban and commercial centers of South America. The first part of the album features the settings of this “modern” city such as the Palacio de Gobierno (today: Palacio Estévez), the Mercado Central, the Teatro Solis, the Usina del Gas, Templo Ingles, the Cabildo, the Bolsa de Comercio, the Escuela de Artes, the Asilo de Huerfanos or the Manicomio (today: Hospital Vilardebó). The remaining pictures show the fruit market, rural and ethnographic scenes with peasant families, and a slaughter of a cow. The first individual photos and collections of views of Montevideo were produced by the city’s most eminent studios, such as Chute y Brooks, Bate y Cia., and the firm Fotografía Universal y J. Van der Weyde, and it was the Galli y Cia. who published the first album of the city Recuerdo de Montevideo in 1875. Although Vistas de Montevideo does not contain any reference to its publisher or the photographer(s), we surmise that it was issued by Chute y Brooks as some of the featured images appear in other publications with the firm’s stamp. The photos were taken in the 1870s and the early 1880s. The Manicomio — today: Hospital Vilardebó — was inaugurated in 1880, and it is partly under construction on the image. The picture of the Plaza Independencia is one of the earliest shots of the 1877 inaugurated town square. Some of the photographs were reproduced as engravings in Bordoni’s Montevideo e la Repubblica dell' Uruguay (Milan, 1885) with no credits. Otherwise, the images are scarce both as reproductions or on market, and the album is lacking from major collections. In fact, we could trace only one copy, with only 16 images (all included in the present album), in the holding of the National Library of Uruguay (Biblioteca Nacional de Uruguay). Charles Wallace Chute (1846–1923) and Thomas Brooks were among the most important pioneer photographers in South America. Both Americans, Chute arrived in Montevideo from Boston in 1865 and started the company with Brooks in 1868. Later they operated studios in Buenos Aires, Rio de Janeiro, Havana, and New York. They became famous for the quality of their portraits, and the views they published of several cities, such as Montevideo, Rosario, and Buenos Aires. They received medals for the quality of their works in Chile in 1875, and in France at the Paris Universal Exposition in 1878 (Ferrari, 2008). Literature: Ferrari, R.: Chute and Brooks. In: Hannavy, J., ed.: Encyclopedia of Nineteenth-Century Photography. New York: Routledge, 2008.; Broquetas, M.; et al: Fotografía en Uruguay : história y usos sociales, 1840-1930. Montevideo: Centro de Fotografia, 2011.