Clarence H. White (American, 18711925)
Gum bichromate print; 7 1/16 x 5 1/2 in. (18 x 13.9 cm)
Alfred Stieglitz Collection, 1933 (33.43.303)
White was a founding member of the Photo-Secession, a friend of Alfred Stieglitz, and a highly praised contributor to photographic exhibitions at home and abroad at the turn of the century. Much of his best work was produced before he moved to New York in 1906, when he still lived far from the medium's hub, in the small Ohio town of Newark, supporting his family as a grocery store bookkeeper. His photographs from this time reveal a vision nurtured by and dependent on the customs and values of small-town life.
Highly reminiscent of William Merritt Chase's painting of the same subject made three years earlier, The Ring Toss is an ingratiating vision of youthful feminine grace in a domestic setting. It signals a remove from the modern urban world and demonstrates White's ability to find sentiment even in the commonplace. The light orange gum bichromate of this print resembles pastel or red chalk, making the photographer's emulation of the traditions of art all the more salient.