“More and more, as it becomes necessary to preserve the game, let us hope that the camera will largely supplant the rifle.” – Theodore Roosevelt, 1901

Perhaps somewhere on the plains of the Serengeti, did Roosevelt happenchance upon this family of lions basking in the midday sun, to shoot them down for the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C., so a woman gazing at them in 1931 would be preserved in an autochrome photograph by Charles Martin, a staff photographer for National Geographic.

Photograph by Charles Martin, National Geographic Creative

Photograph by Charles Martin, National Geographic Creative

Referenced earlier somewhere on this blog, autochrome is an additive color “mosaic screen plate” process consisting of a glass plate coated on one side with a random mosaic of microscopic grains of potato starch dyed red-orange, green, and blue-violet which act as color filters. 

So too referenced was Theodore Roosevelt’s year-long safari to British East Africa sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute as a scientific exhibition in 1909 after Roosevelt left his presidency.

This means the woman gazes at a 20-year-old exhibit of lions that outlived Theodore Roosevelt, as he had died in 1919, never having fully recovered his health after the disastrous Roosevelt–Rondon Scientific Expedition in 1913–1914, the first exploration of the 1000-mile long “River of Doubt” (later renamed Rio Roosevelt) located in a remote area of the Brazilian Amazon basin.

Photograph by Charles Martin, National Geographic Creative 1935

Photograph by Charles Martin, National Geographic Creative 1935

“A Tibetan spiritual figure holds a Mongolian blade after twisting it with his seemingly superhuman strength” is also an autochrome photograph by Charles Martin, a staff photographer for National Geographic. The leopard skin in the backdrop is from the genus Panthera within the Felidae family comprising of not only the leopard, but the tiger, jaguar, and lion, all of which Theodore Roosevelt may have encountered on his African expedition sponsored by the Smithsonian Institute.

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NOTE: Scribner’s magazine paid Roosevelt $50,000 to write a monthly account of his adventures that were gathered together and published as African Game Trails. Above photographs courtesy of Found, National Geographic’s tumbler blog.

 

 

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