Arnold Genthe - Photographs New York Wednesday, October 11, 2023 | Phillips

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  • German-born Arnold Genthe first came to San Francisco in 1896 as a tutor to the son of a wealthy family. It was his first experience in an American city, and he became fascinated by Chinatown which, with its language barrier and its closed society, seemed to him to be an exotic city within a city. Genthe tried making sketches on the Chinatown streets but was unhappy with the results. He then purchased a camera and began chronicling the street life of the district. John Kuo Wei Tchen, historian of the Chinese American experience, notes that Genthe’s Street of the Gamblers shows the entrance to Ross Alley from Jackson Street. He writes, ‘As evidenced by the traditional papier-maché garlands hanging above the doorway on the building to the right, this photograph was taken around New Year’s, when seasonal workers were laid off, inundating Chinatown streets with thousands of idle workers’ (Genthe’s Photographs of San Francisco’s Old Chinatown, notes for pl. 47). Ross Alley was home to a number of gambling establishments, occasioning Genthe’s title for this photograph.    


    Arnold Genthe photographing in San Francisco's Chinatown neighborhood.
    • Provenance

      Collection of John C. Waddell, New York
      Collection of Lee Witkin, New York
      Private Collection
      Edwynn Houk Gallery, Chicago, 1989

    • Literature

      Dover, Genthe's Photographs of San Francisco's Chinatown, pl. 47
      Witkin and London, The Photograph Collector's Guide, p. 150

Photographs from a Prominent New York Collection


The Street of the Gamblers (by Day), Chinatown, San Francisco

circa 1900
Platinum print.
5 1/2 x 6 7/8 in. (14 x 17.5 cm)
The photographer's monogram in red ink, and titled, annotated in unidentified hands in pencil and ink on the verso.

Full Cataloguing

$5,000 - 7,000 

Sold for $4,445

Contact Specialist

Sarah Krueger
Head of Department, Photographs


Vanessa Hallett
Worldwide Head of Photographs and Chairwoman, Americas


New York Auction 11 October 2023