Donald Silverstein (1934 to 1975) will be well known to collectors as he took one of the most important photographs of Jimi Hendrix. That image, taken in his Riding House Street studio in central London in 1967 was a key piece in the exhibition of work from his Jimi Hendrix archive we held at the gallery in 2014.
Donald Silverstein was also the man behind the camera on one of my all time favourite 1960s album sleeves – the 1968 gatefold cover image on Fairport Convention’s first album, Fairport Convention. That album colour image, which wraps around the cover of the LP, is a beautiful combination of light and shade, and shows the group gathered around a table with an ornate art deco lamp placed centre stage and illuminating the scene. It’s a symmetrical composition – the lamp divides equally between the front and back of the sleeve, and three members appear on each side. Here it is:
When we started working with the Donald Silverstein estate, I had hoped that alongside the incredible collection of Jimi Hendrix material, the archive would contain this cover image, along with a wealth of unseen images. Sadly there was no Fairport Convention material in the archive – everything had been lost at some point over the years. This put to bed any hopes of creating a limited edition of this favourite gatefold cover image, and, sadly, my dream of a gallery exhibition of his Fairport Convention material.
Major new discovery
Fast forward to December 2016, and the discovery in a London basement of an original large format vintage 1968 black and white photograph of Fairport Convention by, you guessed it – Donald Silverstein. You can see it at the top of this news piece. At long last the discovery of this precious vintage print means that the Silverstein archive now covers Fairport Convention.
The black and white portrait is a classic – and shows that when you are in the hands of a major talent like Donald Silverstein there are always innovative and interesting ways to fit six individuals inside a single frame. It features (clockwise from left) Martin Lamble, Richard Thompson, Judy Dyble, Simon Nicol, Iain Matthews and Ashley Hutchings.
Researching the black and white photograph, I was very pleased to discover that it was actually used on a 1970s re-issue of the first Fairport Convention album, so in a funny way it ties in with that classic colour album cover image I love so much.
Limited edition available to purchase
By carefully restoring the original vintage print, we have been able to create from it a set of estate authorised limited editions of this iconic black and white photograph. These are being made available to collectors for the very first time.
You can view prices and sizes of the estate authorised limited edition photographs here.
This is a major discovery and the first opportunity for collectors to own this beautiful image.