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Sutcliffe, Frank Meadow
England (1853 - 1941)
The Water Rats
Albumen print
5 7/8 x 7 7/8 in. (14.9 x 20 cm) image size; 8 1/8 x 11 in. (20.6 x 27.9 cm) mount board size
Joseph and Elaine Monsen Photography Collection, gift of Joseph and Elaine Monsen and The Boeing Company
FA 97.170
Keywords: Human figure (group); Recreation (swimming); Nude (boy); Cityscape; Transportation (boat)

Frank Sutcliffe spent most of his life in Whitby, a small town in England. When he began making photographs in 1875, he focused his attention on the town and its inhabitants. This, his most famous picture, depicts a group of street urchins bathing at the water's edge. The impulse to objectively document this underclass group is tempered by Sutcliffe's reliance upon a photographic pictorialism reminiscent of Dutch landscape painting. Scandalized more by the boys' nudity than their poverty, local clergy had Sutcliffe excommunicated for exhibiting this photograph "to the corruption of the young and the other sex." -- Label copy for The Photographic Impulse: A Critical History of Photography, The Joseph and Elaine Monsen Collection, Cincinnati Art Museum, October 12, 2001 to January 6, 2002.

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