Bellocq and beyond

February 5, 2014 10:30 AM

Ryan Rivet
rrivet@tulane.edu

A photograph of The Real Estate Exchange building taken and printed by famed New Orleans photographer Ernest J. Bellocq in 1913 is currently on display as part of an exhibit at the Southeastern Architectural Archive in Jones Hall on the Tulane University uptown campus. The exhibit affords photography aficionados an opportunity to see work that may not be typically associated with the early 20th century artist.  

The Real Estate Exchange Building 1913

A 1913 photo of The Real Estate Exchange building taken and printed by famed New Orleans photographer Ernest J. Bellocq is part of an exhibit on the Tulane University uptown campus. Click above to see full image. (Photo from the Southeastern Architectural Archive)


Bellocq is typically remembered for photographs he made of the prostitutes of Storyville, the New Orleans legalized red light district, according to Keli Rylance, head of the Southeastern Architectural Archive. 

“We’ve always known that he marketed himself as an architectural photographer,” Rylance says. “There are scattered examples of Bellocq’s photographs across our holdings and we recently discovered a photograph that isn’t stamped Bellocq, but the invoice included with it secured the attribution.”

The photograph and invoice on display were discovered within a collection related to New Orleans architect Martin Shepard. Both were in rough shape when they were found. 

“It had been water-damaged before it came to us,” Rylance says. “There was a sheet of correspondence that was soldered onto the photograph and the invoice was heavily stained and damaged.”

Annie Peterson, a preservation librarian at Tulane, procured the services of the Northeast Document Conservation Center to work on the photograph. When Rylance received it back, she thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight architectural photography in the archive’s collections. 

Rylance says this photo opens the door to the possibility that there are other, previously unidentified Bellocq photos out there. 

“It’s not stamped in any way as a Bellocq photo,” Rylance says. “There could be other photos of his in New Orleans repositories that aren’t identified, and this might provide people a means of accessing them on stylistic grounds.”

The exhibit in Room 300 of Jones Hall is open until Feb. 20 and in addition to the Bellocq photograph and invoice, there are images from C. Milo Williams, George Mugnier, John Teunisson, Morgan Whitney, W.C. Odiorne, Frances B. Johnston, Eugene Delcroix, Richard Koch, Clarence John Laughlin, Walter Cook Keenan, Frank Lotz Miller and Betsy Swanson. 

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu