Skip to Content

News Release — December 1, 2009

Hugo Brehme collection

Susan Frost donates extensive Hugo Brehme collection

SAN MARCOS, Texas—The Wittliff Collections at Texas State University-San Marcos announce Susan Toomey Frost's donation of her Hugo Brehme Collection in Novem­ber. The comprehensive archive, comprised of over 1,800 Brehme postcards, maxi­mum cards, black-and-white pho­to­graphs, and hand-tinted photographs, took Frost 15 years to build.

In addition to her donation of the photographs, Frost gifted an extensive library of books, periodicals, and travel ephemera related to the artist. The Hugo Brehme Collection is a valuable addition to the Wittliff’s holdings and greatly enhances the Southwestern & Mexican Photography Collection.

Considered to be the leading expert on Brehme’s work, Frost’s previous scholarship includes the monograph Colors on Clay, recipient of the Texas State Historical Association’s best illustrated book published in 2009 on Texas history and culture.

Hugo Brehme (1882-1954) was born in Germany and studied photography in his native land. While in his early twenties, he traveled to Mexico where he began a life­long engagement with the country. Brehme captured images of the people and places of Mexico, and he opened his first photography studio in Mexico City in 1912.

Identifying himself as a fine-art photographer, Brehme created real photo postcards that were printed on photographic papers with a variety of tones and finishes, giving each image a richness and complexity. His postcards include scenes of Mexico City, Xochimilco, Veracruz, Taxco, Cuernavaca, Puebla, and smaller towns; the volcanoes Popocatépetl, Ixtaccíhuatl, and Pico de Orizaba; archaeological sites and artifacts; and portraits and scenes of the daily life of the Mexican people.

Brehme was also an astute businessman and a savvy entrepre­neur. He introduced the photographic Christmas card to Mexico, as well as the souvenir booklet of multiple picture postcards that became popular with collectors and which tourists could tear out and mail.

Brehme influenced many early Mexican photographers, including Manuel Álvarez Bravo, and he is known internationally for his iconic images of Mexican scenic landscapes and life. He became a Mexican citizen before his death in 1954.