[Distortograph: William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, Mayor of Chicago]

Herbert George Ponting British
Person in Photograph William Hale Thompson American

Not on view

Best known for his dramatic photographs of the South Pole, Ponting was also an inveterate tinkerer. In 1927 he patented a lens attachment he dubbed the “variable controllable distortograph,” describing it as “a revolutionary optical system for photographing in caricature or distortion.” With his patent application, he submitted these caricatures of the flamboyantly corrupt mayor of Chicago William Hale “Big Bill” Thompson, known for his protection of the gangster Al Capone and for colorful campaign stunts, such as staging a mayoral debate with two live rats as his opponents.

[Distortograph: William Hale "Big Bill" Thompson, Mayor of Chicago], Herbert George Ponting (British, Salisbury, Wiltshire 1870–1935 London), Gelatin silver print

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