Irving Browning at The New York Historical Society - Collection Gems

Bridgeman Images is proud to represent the New York Historical Society which holds the works of Irving Browning

 

Elevated train, looking east on South Street, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Elevated train, looking east on South Street, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

New York-born Irving Browning (1895-1961) was a self-taught photographer and cinematographer who opened a commercial photograph studio at 110 West 40th Street in 1922 where his younger brother, Sam, occasionally worked with him as a photographer.

 

Radio City Music Hall construction - men welding, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Radio City Music Hall construction - men welding, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

View out from doorway at people on Broadway between 46th and 47th Street, USA, 1925 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
View out from doorway at people on Broadway between 46th and 47th Street, USA, 1925 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

A former silent film actor and comedian of the 1910s, New Yorker Irving Browning between 1920 and 1940 created a comprehensive body of work documenting New York City during an era of rapid growth.

 

Newspaper vendor, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Newspaper vendor, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Manhattan Company Building [Bank of Manhattan] seen from a window of the Cities Service Building, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Manhattan Company Building [Bank of Manhattan] seen from a window of the Cities Service Building, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Browning was frequently commissioned by architectural firms, advertising agencies and magazines to illustrate the urban environment, his moody photographs capturing the exteriors and interiors of landmark skyscrapers, apartments and the suburbs as well as the lifestyles of New Yorkers during the 1920s and 30s. 

 

Before Television Camera, Sandra Phillips over the ether in Television & Radio, C.B.S. Earliest telecasting, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Before Television Camera, Sandra Phillips over the ether in Television & Radio, C.B.S. Earliest telecasting, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Mechanics fix plane prop, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Mechanics fix plane prop, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

As construction in Manhattan flourished despite the Depression, Browning was hired to document such new architectural landmarks as the Chrysler Building, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, the RKO Roxy and Earl Carroll theatres, and the towering Empire State Building.

 

Empire State Building Construction - Workers Balancing Beams, New York, USA, c.1930-31 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Empire State Building Construction - Workers Balancing Beams, New York, USA, c.1930-31 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Construction worker, Rockefeller Center, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Construction worker, Rockefeller Center, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Many of his photographs from the 1930s meditate on the contrasts of poverty and wealth; they focus on poor Lower East Side peddlers, former businessmen selling apples in the aftermath of the stock market crash, and shantytowns as well as on such things as well-heeled shoppers perusing fashionable window displays and the leisure activities and lifestyles of the wealthy.

 

Gum on a Shoe, Park Ave. N.Y.C, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Gum on a Shoe, Park Ave. N.Y.C, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Boy holding up a model airplane, New York, USA, 1932 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Boy holding up a model airplane, New York, USA, 1932 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

He is described as an innovative photographer who took an avid interest in the technical aspects of his craft. Browning's creative and sometimes frenetic photomontages were popular among magazine advertising clients.

 

Photomontage: "Calling in the Night", USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Photomontage: "Calling in the Night", USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Sunbathing, Bermuda, 1932, USA, 1932 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Sunbathing, Bermuda, 1932, USA, 1932 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Browning was also a comedian and actor and later in his career worked as a director, producer and cameraman, gaining some notice for his short films and documentaries. His work is held by the New York Historical Society, whose collection has recently been digitized in its entirety. 

 

View of Lower Manhattan, looking north, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
View of Lower Manhattan, looking north, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Crowds Shopping, 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, B. Altman & Co, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Crowds Shopping, 34th Street and Fifth Avenue, B. Altman & Co, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

 “This collection can now be evaluated as a whole, and one can see elements emerge repeatedly in the work that paints a picture of Browning’s particular point of view. From the way solitary figures are captured, silhouettes are isolated from the busyness of cityscapes, and light and shadows dominate a frame; to the surreal quality that emerges from surprising juxtapositions in some of the photomontages; these images are distinguished from just a client or project, and reflect the aesthetic sensibility of the photographer.”

Eleanor Gillers, Head of Rights and Reproductions, New-York Historical Society

 

Gas towers, 11th Avenue, NYC, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Gas towers, 11th Avenue, NYC, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Would you like to see more images by Irving Browning on our website? View our selection. 

 

For any further information about this and other collections, please do not hesitate to contact us. 

  
The Diver, Cascades Pool, 169th Street and Jerome Avenue, The Bronx, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
The Diver, Cascades Pool, 169th Street and Jerome Avenue, The Bronx, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

Sources on  Irving Browning and the New-York Historical Society

Irving Browning, Biographical Note, New-York Historical Society 

Irving Browning - National Portrait Gallery Australia

Irving Browning’s Point of View, New-York Historical Society

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New-York_Historical_Society

https://www.nyhistory.org/about

 
Chrysler Building, viewed out the window of the Empire State Building, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images
Chrysler Building, viewed out the window of the Empire State Building, New York, USA, c.1920-38 (gelatin silver photo), Irving Browning, (1895-1961) / Collection of the New-York Historical Society, USA / © New York Historical Society / Bridgeman Images

 

 

Back to top