A Cape Camera

A Cape Camera presents the architectural environment at the Cape as it existed in the early decades of the century and was recorded by Arthur Elliott (1870-1938).
Fransen, Hans
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Title: A Cape Camera
Subtitle: The Architectural Beauty of the Old Cape. Photographs from the Arthur Elliott Collection in the Cape Archives
Author: Hans Fransen
Publisher: Jonathan Ball Publishers SA
Cape Town, South Africa 2013
ISBN 9780868522210 / ISBN 978-0-86852-221-0
Softcover, 25 x 36 cm, 224 pages, numerous b/w photos


A Cape Camera has its origins in a similar volume, The Architectural Beauty of the Old Cape as seen by Arthur Elliott, now long out of print. In response to numerous requests for a second edition, it was decided to publish a book on the same subject but with a larger and partly different selection of photographs. Instead of concentrating on subjects no longer in existence, as the earlier book did, the present choice attempts to present a fuller picture of the architectural environment at the Cape as it existed in the early decades of the century and was recorded by Arthur Elliott (1870-1938). To add usefulness to the aesthetic enjoyment that Elliott's pictures will no doubt offer the viewer, the author has added an overview of the architectural styles, mainly the 'Cape Dutch', that have been so well recorded by his camera. Elliott was thirty years of age and of no fixed profession when, in 1900, he was given a camera as a present and started his new occupation by taking and selling snaps of troops at Green Point. In many ways, he always remained a talented and dedicated amateur. Yet no account of the traditional built environment of the Cape as it still existed in the early years of the present century has managed to do so without leaning heavily on the work of this adventurous self-made American. So unfailing was his eye for the essential in the already diminishing remnants of the past surrounding him, and so determined his approach in recording as much of it as possible before it had dwindled even further, that it was decided to compile this album largely from his collection. This has the added advantage of presenting a coherent picture, all the more fitting because it is consistency and unity which are the main claims to fame of Cape colonial architecture.

Content: A Cape Camera

The life of Arthur Elliott
Arthur Elliott as a recorder of history
Arthur Elliott as an architectural recorder
Arthur Elliott as a photographer
A century's loss
The Architectural Heritage of the Cape
Cape Dutch: a true vernacular
Standardised and enduring elements
Letter-of-the-alphabet plans
Decorative overlay: the Cape Dutch gable
Stylistic sequence
A new style
Other architectural forms and decoration
Nineteenth century styles
The Photographs
Cape Town
Cape Peninsula
Hottentots Holland
Berg River Valley
Northern Districts
Eastern Districts

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