British photographic history

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Research: Information on the photographer Adolf Morath (born 1905)

I am looking for information on the German born industrial photographer Adolf (sometimes Adolph) Morath who worked extensively for British Petroleum and the Kuwaiti Oil Company in the mid-20th century, photographing oil workers, their daily life and the company facilities in Kuwait and other places. Despite his huge portfolio, there seems to be hardly any information on Morath. I would be very thankful for any information, material or recommendation where to look.

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Comment by Jennifer Way on December 13, 2021 at 17:12

Hi, Laura,

I've worked on Morath's photography in relation to his activity concerning Ireland during the early 1950s.I am interested in his photograph of Dublin and his representations of working Irish during this period.

I mention this in “O’Connell Street as the ‘Nation’s Main Street’: The Image of Ireland’s Modernity and Irelantis,” in Justin Carville (ed.), Visualizing Dublin: Visual Culture, Modernity and the Representation of Urban Space, Re-Imagining Ireland Series (Peter Lang, 2014): 221-245; republished in “Visualizing Dublin, ‘O’Connell Street as the “Nation’s Main Street',” Reimagining Ireland: A Reader, edited by Eamon Maher (Peter Lang, 2017): 197-220.

In case this is of interest to you, I've sent you a pdf through your university email.

With thanks in advance Jennifer Way

Comment by Mark Hewett on April 13, 2021 at 16:40

Hi, I have a large collection of photographs by Adolf Morath, they were taken at the Welsh Steel plants, in the 1950s 

Comment by John Thompson on February 6, 2021 at 17:23

Hi Laura, my wife worked in 10 countries with Morath from early 1964 to end of 1965. The same German girl went to Saudi Arabia with him both times, the second time was in Jan 1966 approximately.

Comment by Laura Hindelang on January 19, 2021 at 9:37

@John - thank you so much for passing on this information! Would you know when exactly your wife was working for Morath? Would you know if she also traveled to Kuwait with him?

Comment by Laura Hindelang on January 19, 2021 at 9:35

@Zelfa - Thank you for letting me know regarding the photos taken by Adolf Morath in your family's documents. Unfortunately, there is no comprehensive list of sitters that Morath photographed in his London studio. I am currently working on a journal article of Morath - could you imagine sending me scans (front and back) of these two photographs? I am happy to keep you updated on the article!

Comment by John Thompson on January 18, 2021 at 18:45

This is a very belated reply to your query re assistants to Adolf Morath in the 60s. My wife, Sandra Grace Pearson as she was then, worked with him during the mid 60s, and travelled with him in Europe and Africa. I met her when  he was doing an assignment photographing the workers in Waterford Crystal. John Thompson.

Comment by Zelfa Hourani on January 6, 2021 at 20:10

Laura - Your name came up as I was trying to find information about the photographer Adolph Morath. I have been sorting out family papers and have found two beautiful photos signed by him of my maternal grandfather Hussein Afnan. He was in London as the charge d'affairs to the Iraqi legation in 1931-32. He might have arrived in 1930. I am wondering if there is a record of it anywhere or if you have discovered the names of Adolph Morath's sitters.

Comment by Gilly Read FRPS on August 17, 2020 at 11:47

I met Charlotte Marx when I was a student in the early 1960's when she taught colour printing in an evening class which I took as an extra at my college. She was strict but I never found her unpleasant or cantankerous.

She was an extremely skilled colour printer who produced top class results for Morath. Agfa reds were notorious  at the time.

Morath also photographed for Colvilles in the 1960's

When I worked for Morath I think he lived had and his processing and darkroom at 14 Cornwall Gardens.

Gilly Read FRPS

Comment by Justin Parkes on August 10, 2020 at 11:15

I recently acquired a catalogue for an exhibition of Adolf Morath's colour photographs titled 'Industry'. The exhibition was held in 1957 and sponsored by the Manchester Guardian.

It's uncleare from the catalogue whether the exhibition was held at the Guardian's office or at Morath's London lab, the address of which is given as 14 Cornwall Gardens, SW7. If anyone would like a copy of the catalogue please let me know.

Morath was commissioned to photograph the British steel industry in the 1950s. Around 1954 Colvilles Magazine ran a feature called 'As Others See Us' featuring side-by-side photographs by Morath of selected employees in their work clothes and also enjoying their hobbies outside work. According to the magazine this was Morath's idea. He also photographed the steel plant. Hopefully those photographs survive somewhere, perhaps in the Tata Steel archive.

Comment by Peter J. Cheese on July 22, 2020 at 16:19

I was a student at the Birmingham School of Photography in the 1960's.  Morath held an exhibition of his industrial work at The Royal Birmingham Society of Artists (RBSA) then in New Street, Birmingham.  A visit was arranged for a number of students (including me) to see the exhibition and meet Morath.  From memory, he was kind to us, explaining how he achieved the stunning colour photographs and extolling the virtues of Agfa colour materials.  He prepared prints in his own laboratory.  A quite stimulating experience.

Later in my career, I met with a darkroom technician who claimed to have worked with Morath's printer describing her as a somewhat disagreeable lady, (the word cantankerous was used).  I have no verification of these observations.  In any event the technical standard of the prints was amazing as was the photography.


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