John B. Trevor

(1878 - 1956) American


Born in Yonkers, New York, John B. Trevor was a prominent lawyer, a decorated veteran of World War I, and an amateur photographer who worked with the autochrome process. An outspoken critic of unrestricted immigration to the United States, he used his position and influence to advocate for a quota system limiting immigration. He was a frequent advisor to Congress, and served as counsel to the Senate Foreign relations Committee. He also founded the American Coalition, a collection of patriotic societies opposed to fascism and communism. He served as vice-president of Paul Smith College of Arts and Sciences, and was a trustee of the American Museum of Natural History.
The autochrome technique, invented in 1904 and available in 1907, was the first commercially available color process, but each plate was unique, fragile, technically difficult to develop, and expensive; the use of autochromes was thus limited primarily to wealthy amateur and professional photographers. For a brief period in 1907, the autochrome became popular with Alfred Stieglitz and associates, who treated color as an element of artistic expressiveness, not just a tool for literal reproduction. Trevor was typical of amateur photographers working with the new color process, as he documented activities in and around the home. His autochromes present an array of subjects, from rugs, lamps, and other possessions, to people and automobiles, landscapes and seascapes. Some of his images display a strong aesthetic sensibility, especially the portraits and floral still-lifes. The long exposure time of the autochrome necessarily caused Trevor's sitters to appear static. ICP's collection holds sixty-four autochromes by Trevor, which were donated soon after the founding of the institution. Some of these were shown in the permanent collection gallery [at 1130 Fifth Avenue] in 1982 to complement a larger exhibition entitled Autochromes: Color Photography Comes of Age.
John McIntyre

Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 230.
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