15
Jul
14

Exhibition: ‘In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquistions’ at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City

Exhibition dates: 25th January – 20th July 2014

 

OMG some of these images are SO beautiful and others SO bizarre. Please enlarge the detailed shots of Lady in Costume (c. 1850, below) and Traveling Minstrels – banjo and bones (c. 1850, below) – my two favourites – so you can see the costumes and the people. The clothes of the bones player are incredible… I wonder what they did with their lives, where they went and how they lived. How old do you think they are? And what is that on the front of his hat, a watch?

Dr Marcus Bunyan for the Art Blart blog

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Many thankx to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art for allowing me to publish the photographs in the posting. Please click on the photographs for a larger version of the image.

 

Attributed to: Tsukamoto, Japanese. 'Portrait of a man in samurai armor' mid 1870s

 

Attributed to:
Tsukamoto, Japanese
Portrait of a man in samurai armor
mid 1870s
Ambrotype
5 x 3 ½ inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown maker, American. 'Woman telegrapher' c. 1850

 

Unknown maker, American
Woman telegrapher
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
image size: 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Augustus Washington, American (1820-1875) 'John Brown' c. 1846-1847

 

Augustus Washington, American (1820-1875)
John Brown
c. 1846-1847
Quarter plate daguerreotype
4 x 3-3/16 inches
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

John Brown (May 9, 1800 – December 2, 1859) was a white American abolitionist who believed armed insurrection was the only way to overthrow the institution of slavery in the United States. During the 1856 conflict in Kansas, Brown commanded forces at the Battle of Black Jack and the Battle of Osawatomie. Brown’s followers also killed five slavery supporters at Pottawatomie. In 1859, Brown led an unsuccessful raid on the federal armory at Harpers Ferry that ended with his capture. Brown’s trial resulted in his conviction and a sentence of death by hanging.

Brown’s attempt in 1859 to start a liberation movement among enslaved African Americans in Harpers Ferry, Virginia, electrified the nation. He was tried for treason against the Commonwealth of Virginia, the murder of five men and inciting a slave insurrection. He was found guilty on all counts and was hanged. Southerners alleged that his rebellion was the tip of the abolitionist iceberg and represented the wishes of the Republican Party to end slavery. Historians agree that the Harpers Ferry raid in 1859 escalated tensions that, a year later, led to secession and the American Civil War. (Text from Wikipedia)

 

 

(Pierre) Victor Plumier, French, active 1840s-1850s.  'Lady in Costume' c. 1850

 

(Pierre) Victor Plumier, French, active 1840s-1850s
Lady in Costume
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, half-plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Mount (open): 8 1/8 x 6 5/8 inches (20.64 x 16.83 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

2007-17-28_Plumier-LadyInCostume-DETAIL

 

(Pierre) Victor Plumier, French, active 1840s-1850s
Lady in Costume (detail)
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, half-plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Mount (open): 8 1/8 x 6 5/8 inches (20.64 x 16.83 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown. 'Traveling Minstrels - banjo and bones' c. 1850

 

Unknown
Traveling Minstrels – banjo and bones
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
Plate: 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches (8.26 x 6.99 cm)
Case: 3 3/4 x 3 3/8 x 5/8 inches (9.53 x 8.59 x 1.6 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

The bones are a musical instrument (more specifically, a folk instrument) which, at the simplest, consists of a pair of animal bones, or pieces of wood or a similar material. Sections of large rib bones and lower leg bones are the most commonly used true bones, although wooden sticks shaped like the earlier true bones are now more often used…

They have contributed to many music genres, including 19th century minstrel shows, traditional Irish music, the blues, bluegrass, zydeco, French-Canadian music, and music from Cape Breton in Nova Scotia…

They are typically about 5″ to 7″ in length, but can be much longer, and they are often curved, roughly resembling miniature barrel staves. Bones can also be flat, for example by the cutting of a yardstick. They are played by holding them between one’s fingers, convex surfaces facing one another, and moving one’s wrist in such a way that they knock against each other…

While North American players are typically two-handed, the Irish tradition finds the vast majority of bones players using only one hand, a distinction in method that has a strong impact on musical articulation. The comparison of the function of banjo rolls with that of bones within an ensemble suggests that stereotypically a subdivided accompaniment pattern is played on the bones. (Text from Wikipedia)

 

2008-41-22_Unknown-TravelingMinstrelsBanjoBones_DETAIL

 

Unknown
Traveling Minstrels – banjo and bones (detail)
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
Plate: 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches (8.26 x 6.99 cm)
Case: 3 3/4 x 3 3/8 x 5/8 inches (9.53 x 8.59 x 1.6 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909 
Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873. 'Portrait of Frances Amelia Collins Mitchell' c. 1850

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909

Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873
Portrait of Frances Amelia Collins Mitchell
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, half plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Case: 6 x 4 7/8 x 3/4 inches (15.24 x 12.37 x 1.91 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909 
Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873. 'Portrait of Frances Amelia Collins Mitchell' (detail) c. 1850

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909

Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873
Portrait of Frances Amelia Collins Mitchell (detail)
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, half plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Case: 6 x 4 7/8 x 3/4 inches (15.24 x 12.37 x 1.91 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown. 'Portrait of Three Girls' c. 1850s

 

Unknown 
Portrait of Three Girls
c. 1850s
Daguerreotype, half plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

“An exhibition featuring more than 50 daguerreotypes acquired by The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art since 2007 opened on Jan. 24. In the Looking Glass: Recent Daguerreotype Acquisitions is a fascinating look at an early photographic process that was introduced in 1839. “In the 19th century, daguerreotypes seemed to be magical bits of reality,” says Jane Aspinwall, associate curator of Photography. “Now, more than a century later, they still hold that kind of wonder and appeal.”

A precursor of printed photography, the daguerreotype image is formed on a highly polished silver surface that is exposed to iodine fumes. The fumes produce a light sensitive coating. The plate is then covered with a protective dark slide and placed into a camera. An image is projected through the lens and onto the plate; the image is then developed using heated mercury. The distinguishing visual characteristics of a daguerreotype are that the image is on a bright, mirror-like surface of metallic silver and it appears either positive or negative depending on the lighting conditions and whether a light or dark background is being reflected in the metal.

Important additions to the Nelson-Atkins American collection include portraits by major makers, including possibly the earliest of only six known daguerreotypes of noted abolitionist John Brown. In the French holding, lively portraits, cityscapes, and archaeological images are highlighted. A 170-year-old daguerreotype from Egypt transports viewers to the shimmering banks of the Nile River, a place few would have been able to travel to at the time. British pieces are distinguished by elaborate hand-coloring.

Small, intimate American daguerreotypes, most housed in jewel-like velvet or silk-lined cases, were made to be held close and scrutinized. Because they are reflective, the Nelson-Atkins designed more than two dozen cases with special lighting features to provide optimal viewing conditions, bringing each detailed image to life. A daguerreotype of a young girl clutching a shawl around her bare shoulders seems to float; another sharply detailed, rare Gold Rush image [second image, below] depicts a small group of men standing in front of their grocery store located in a California frontier town.

“It’s an amazing experience to view these precious, one-of-a-kind daguerreotypes,” said Aspinwall. “Once you see one, you never forget it. It takes you back in time to share a mid-19­th century moment with the sitter.”

The Nelson-Atkins is recognized as having one of the top five American daguerreotype collections in the U.S. and loaned more than 80 to the Taft Museum in Cincinnati for the 2013 exhibition Photographic Wonders. Daguerreotypes are an internationally significant cornerstone of the museum’s photography holdings.”

Press release from the  Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

 

Unknown. 'St. Anthony Falls' c. 1852

 

Unknown
St. Anthony Falls
c. 1852
Daguerreotype, half plate
Plate: 5 1/2 x 4 1/2 inches (13.97 x 11.43 cm)
Case: 6 x 4 3/4 x 1/2 inches (15.24 x 12.07 x 1.27 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown maker, American. 'Bond & Mollyneaux Groceries and Provisions' c. 1850

 

Unknown maker, American
Bond & Mollyneaux Groceries and Provisions
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, whole plate
Image size: 8 ½ x 6 ½ inches
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown. 'Three carpenters in their workshop' c. 1848-1850

 

Unknown
Three carpenters in their workshop
c. 1848-1850
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
Plate: 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches (10.8 x 8.26 cm)
Case (open): 4 3/4 x 7 1/2 inches (12.07 x 19.05 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909 Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873. 'Portrait of Annie M. Collins' c. 1847

 

David C. Collins, American, 1825-1909
Thomas P. Collins, American, 1823-1873
Portrait of Annie M. Collins
c. 1847
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
Plate: 4 1/4 x 3 1/4 inches (10.8 x 8.26 cm)
Case: 4 5/8 x 3 3/4 inches (11.76 x 9.53 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown. 'Genushe (animal post-mortem)' c. 1845-1846

 

Unknown
Genushe (animal post-mortem)
c. 1845-1846
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
Plate: 3 1/4 x 2 3/4 inches (8.26 x 6.99 cm)
Case: 3 3/4 x 3 1/4 x 1/4 inches (9.53 x 8.26 x 0.64 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown. 'Untitled (eagle facing left)' c. 1850

 

Unknown
Untitled (eagle facing left)
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
Case: 3 3/4 x 3 3/4 x 3/4 inches (9.53 x 9.53 x 1.91 cm)
Gift of the Hall Family Foundation
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art
4525 Oak Street
Kansas City, MO 64111

Opening hours:
Wed, 10 am – 4 pm
Thurs, Fri, 10 am – 9 pm
Sat, 10 am – 5 pm
Sun, Noon – 5 pm

The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art website

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Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Études’ 1994

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes the Art Blart blog which reviews exhibitions in Melbourne, Australia and posts exhibitions from around the world. He has a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne and is currently studying a Master of Art Curatorship at The University of Melbourne.

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