Men in Love 1850s – 1950s

The full title: LOVING A Photographic History of Men in Love 1850s – 1950s. Assembled by Hugh Nini & Neal Treadwell (5 Continents Editions, 2020).

(#1) Front cover of the book

From the introduction to a Queer Review interview by editor James Kleinmann with the authors (11/1/20):

A married couple themselves, Neal, who works in the cosmetic industry, and Hugh, a former ballet dancer turned ballet teacher, have been together for nearly three decades. While browsing in an antique store in Dallas, Texas around 20 years ago, the pair stumbled across a photograph from the 1920s of two men in a tender embrace. That unexpected discovery sparked a passion that has resulted in their still growing “accidental collection” of around 3,000 photographs of men in love. A selection of over 300 of these images is featured in their beautifully produced new book which was published internationally on October 14th 2020.

A beautifully produced volume, with minimal text: an appreciative note “Amantes Amentes”, by Paolo Maria Noseda (pp. 6-13) (Noseda elsewhere   defines himself as “an interpreter, translator, speech coach, ghost writer, consultant in the field of international communication, writer and occasionally teacher and student”), and the explanatory essay “An Accidental Collection” by Nini and Treadwell (pp. 14-23).

The photographs are surprisingly moving (and, yes, Nini and Treadwell are aware of the common practice of close male friends — “best buddies” and the like — taking photos of themselves in entirely non-sexual physical closeness, but argue that in many cases the exchange of facial expressions between male couples and their body language clearly indicate a loving relationship).

The publisher’s advance synopsis:

Loving: A Photographic Story of Men in Love, 1850-1950 portrays the history of romantic love between men in hundreds of moving and tender vernacular photographs taken between the years 1850 and 1950. This visual narrative of astonishing sensitivity brings to light an until-now-unpublished collection of hundreds of snapshots, portraits, and group photos taken in the most varied of contexts, both private and public. Taken when male partnerships were often illegal, the photos here were found at flea markets, in shoe boxes, family archives, old suitcases, and later online and at auctions. The collection now includes photos from all over the world: Australia, Bulgaria, Canada, Croatia, France, Germany, Japan, Greece, Latvia, the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, and Serbia. The subjects were identified as couples by that unmistakable look in the eyes of two people in love – impossible to manufacture or hide. They were also recognised by body language – evidence as subtle as one hand barely grazing another – and by inscriptions, often coded. Included here are ambrotypes, daguerreotypes, glass negatives, tin types, cabinet cards, photo postcards, photo strips, photomatics, and snapshots – over 100 years of social history and the development of photography.  … The photographs – many fragile from age or handling – have been digitised using a technology derived from that used on surveillance satellites and available in only five places around the world. Paper and other materials are among the best available. And Loving will be manufactured at one of the world’s elite printers. Loving, the book, will be up to the measure of its message in every way. In these delight-filled pages, couples in love tell their own story for the first time at a time when joy and hope – indeed human connectivity – are crucial lifelines to our better selves. Universal in reach and overwhelming in impact, Loving speaks to our spirit and resilience, our capacity for bliss, and our longing for the shared truths of love.

And an ad for the book with a display of six photos from it:


You can also watch a charming video, “Loving: A Short Documentary” (roughly 8 minutes long), available here.

One Response to “Men in Love 1850s – 1950s”

  1. Eric Says:

    am Eric aussie /swiss guy living in Montreux loved your review
    bought the book, magic no words the pics speak louder than words
    if your in contact with the authors let them know they have another
    fan who appreciates it all


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