about 1896–97
F. Holland Day (American, 1864–1933)


Image: 16.1 x 12.3 cm (6 5/16 x 4 13/16 in.) Mount: 25.4 x 20.3 cm (10 x 8 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Photograph, platinum print

Not On View


Americas, Photography



The Boston photographer F. Holland Day, like other Pictorialists working around 1900, advocated for the making of artistically expressive photographs. He developed a personal approach to the medium through his careful control of composition, tone, and atmosphere. Day specialized in portraits as well as religious studies and symbolic male nudes. He was attracted to exotic appearances. His portraits of the artist and model J. Alexander Skeete posed as a noble African leader reveal the humanitarian interest that Day took in racial difference. In these portraits, the photographer endeavored to capture a particularly subtle range of black, gray, and white tones. This example, showing the sitter’s head and chest bathed in soft light, is one of Day’s most tender renditions of Skeete.


Photographer's blind stamp, in image, l.l.: FHD


Purchased from the photographer by Will Rowland Davis (born 1879); passed through Davis's descendants; Alfred Walker and Robert Klein Gallery, Boston; purchased by MFA, Dec. 18, 2002.

Credit Line

Charles H. Bayley Picture and Painting Fund