From Pictorial Artistry: The Dramatization of the Beautiful in Photography
"A study, not a portrait of a man. Characteristics brought to the fore, (conveying a mood, a story), as conceived in the mind of the maker of the study. He in turn must ask the sitter to cooperate; there must be clear understanding between both as to the idea or purpose of the picture. Likes, dislikes, or even beauty become secondary considerations, whereas emphasis, expression, and pose, are the main objective.
In Skepticism, one can see a stern, experienced business man, who is listening distrustfully to the person addressing him.
Basically pyramidal, there is nevertheless a square in pose, which is strengthened by the shape of the head, deep-set into broad and almost round shoulders. The slight distortion of the face made by the impression of the firmly powerful hand and a strong arm for support, convey a sense of alert repose, a readiness for whatever there may be to come. Strong highlights, lines and modeling in the face give proof of harsh experience, etched by time upon a kind face.
Technical Problems:
The difficult part for a retoucher is to refrain from the instinctive desire to beautify, brought about by the constant demand of men and women “portrait sitters” to satisfy their vanity.
The print had to be kept in a low key demanded by the mood, whereby separation of tone values became a problem, especially when strength was to be the result.
Camera: 5x7 Agfa View
Lens: Wollensack Velostigmat, 12 inches
Stop: f.6.3
Exposure: One second (on stand)
Film: Defender XF Ortho
Print: Tuma Gas, direct"
by Adolf Fassbender, 1937
Currently not on view
date made
before 1937
Fassbender, Adolf
Physical Description
paper (overall material)
image: 11 1/8 in x 8 5/8 in; 28.2575 cm x 21.9075 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
See more items in
Culture and the Arts: Photographic History
Adolf Fassbender, Pictorial Artistry
Data Source
National Museum of American History


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