In the decades they were in business the Baker Art Gallery produced innumerable family portraits, commercial images, and photographs of prominent people. Patrons are more likely to contact us to ask about Baker photographs than any other photography studio represented in the Ohio Historical Society’s collections.
Baker Art Gallery was the most prominent photography studio in Columbus, Ohio for over eighty years. The studio was founded by Lorenzo Marvin Baker. He began his photography career in the 1860s. His studio was located in different locations on High Street in downtown Columbus. In 1886 the studio became known as Baker’s Art Gallery or Baker Art Gallery and his son Duane joined the business. Four generations of the Baker family operated the studio until 1955. After the studio closed Mrs. Lorenzo P. Baker donated a large collection of negatives and photographs from the studio to the Ohio Historical Society.
The studio’s specialty was portrait photography. Located near the Ohio Statehouse, they took photographs of most Ohio legislators and state officials in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Many celebrities and dignitaries also had their portraits taken at Baker’s, including sharpshooter Annie Oakley and U.S. Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin Roosevelt, William Howard Taft and Warren G. Harding.
Baker was also known for sentimental studies and photographs documenting the Columbus area. The sentimental studies were often idealized views of family life or dramatic scenes. These were widely published in magazines and reproduced for customers to purchase for decor. You can see more examples of Baker Art Gallery photography in our digital library, Ohio Memory. Type ‘Baker Art Gallery’ in the search box to retrieve Baker images. Have you ever found a photograph marked Baker Art Gallery?
L. Wood, Curator for Visual Resources