Edited by Horst. Photographed by Ernest Rathenau.
New York. J. J. Augustin Publisher. 1945. Hardback, dust jacket. 108 pages. Many full-page b&w photographic plates. 290 x 230mm (11˝ x 9"). 0.65kg. English. Very good in a very good dust jacket; there is some spotting and browning to the cloth covers and endpapers, front inner hinge cracked, no inscriptions; the dust jacket has a small nicks at the forecorners and head and base of spine, with just a little loss, generally in excellent condition for its age.
Ernest (or Ernst) Rathenau was a German art publisher and photographer who, like Horst, emigrated to America before the outbreak of the Second World War. Orientals appears to be the only publication which Horst edited, without contributing any photographs, and it was likely that he was commissioned to do so by his publisher's J. J. Augustin, who published 'Photographs of a Decade' a year earlier. J. J. Augustin were a venerable German printing firm established in 1632 and operating in New York during and after WWII. The book is an example of the German emigré community operating and creating together within their adopted country. Rathenau had travelled around the world before the outbreak of war and these portraits are the result of these trips. The photographs are interspersed throughout the book with text selected from the writings of Marco Polo, Rabindranath Tagore, Confucius, Pearl S. Buck, Rudyard Kipling, Jawaharlal Nehru, and many more. Horst's foreword on the dust jacket flyleaf reveals what he himself valued in a portrait photographer: 'The photographs in this book are portraits. If they appear to be snapshots it is because Ernest Rathenau has singled out a few faces from a crowd - a crowd of our contemporaries. They are looking at you. They turn their heads, aloof and dignified, to regard you while you pass, and turn again to resume their eternal labors. You see them peddling their wares, carrying baskets to the market-place, sitting in their doorways. Ernest Rathenau's mastery of his medium combines the relaxed informality of action photography with the meticulous pictorial accuracy of great portraits. He has rendered the people of the East without fanciful distortion or affection. His approach is so simple as to appear self-evident, but is in itself a real achievement in a world of artists and photographers, each wrestling for a personal style. Seen through his unbiased accurate lens, the faces are like landscapes in their natural light. This honesty and lack of preconception enable Rathenau to arrest the motion of the East and project the people of the East with a uniqueness of style and understanding.' (Horst, flyleaf).