Posts Tagged ‘Victorian portrait photography

31
Dec
13

Exhibition: ‘Julia Margaret Cameron’ at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York

Exhibition dates: 9th August 2013 – 5th January 2014

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'King Lear and his Three Daughters' 1872

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
King Lear and his Three Daughters
1872
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Bequest of Maurice B. Sendak, 2013
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

The three Liddell sisters – Lorina, Elizabeth, and Alice – posed with the photographer’s husband playing the tragically deceived King Lear in one of Cameron’s few Shakespearean compositions. Goneril and Regan whisper false flattery in the ageing king’s ear while the truly devoted but disinherited Cordelia – here unadorned and dressed in white – stands before him, an embodiment of disillusioned innocence.

 

 

The first posting of a new year, and finally I get to do a posting on one of the greatest photographers of all time. Nobody has ever taken portraits like JMC before or since. What a unique vision, different from everyone else: “directed light, soft focus, and long exposures that allowed the sitters’ slight movement to register in her pictures, instilling them with a sense of breath and life.”

The portrait of Sir John Herschel (April 1867, below) is one of the most famous portraits in the history of photography. What a magnificent achievement, to capture the spirit of this human being on a glass plate… “Our Julia” as a friend of mine lovingly calls her. It’s funny how everyone takes her to their heart.

Dr Marcus Bunyan

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Many thankx to the The Metropolitan 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.

 

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Sappho' 1865

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Sappho
1865
Albumen silver print from glass negative
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke and Anonymous Gifts, 1997
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

Mary Hillier, a beautiful young house servant at Dimbola, Cameron’s home in Freshwater, was often pressed into photographic service, frequently in the role of the Virgin Mary. She managed to assume her various guises in a remarkably unselfconscious way, projecting both gentleness and strength of character. Hillier is also the model for Cameron’s Sappho, a profile portrait in the Florentine Quattrocento style, perhaps inspired by the chromolithographic reproductions of Italian paintings distributed by the Arundel Society, of which Cameron was a member. The image has great presence, so much so that Cameron decided to print it even though she broke the negative. Precisely what the picture has to do with the Greek poet of Lesbos is unclear, especially since Cameron inscribed another print of the same image Adriana. The titles of two close variants reveal that, by looking left instead of right, Hillier was apparently transformed from Sappho into Dora or, when photographed from one step further back, Clio. Although Cameron often set out to portray a certain ideal, she also titled pictures after the fact, sometimes because the image seemed to embody the character of a certain literary or biblical figure, but sometimes, one suspects, quite simply because there was more of a market for images of the Virgin, Sappho, or Christabel than for portraits of the photographer’s niece or a parlour maid from the Isle of Wight.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty
1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1941
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

In Cameron’s The Mountain Nymph Sweet Liberty, Miss Keene, an arresting model about whom we know nothing but her last name, stares directly at the camera (and, by extension, at the viewer), her hair loose and her eyes open wide. Filling the frame, she seems to step out of the picture. The photograph takes its title from John Milton’s poem L’Allegro, a celebration of life’s pleasures:

Come, and trip it as you go
On the light fantastic toe;
And in thy right hand lead with thee
The mountain nymph, sweet Liberty.

Cameron sent the photograph to her friend, the renowned scientist Sir John Herschel, who wrote back, “That head of the ‘Mountain Nymph Sweet liberty’ (a little farouche & égarée [timid and distraught] by the way, as if first let loose & half afraid that it was too good to last) is really a most astonishing piece of high relief. She is absolutely alive and thrusting out her head from the paper into the air. This is your own special style.” Herschel seized upon the photograph’s most striking quality, its startling sense of presence and of psychological connection with the viewer.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Zoe, Maid of Athens' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Zoe, Maid of Athens
1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee, and Muriel Kallis Newman Gifts, 1997
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1997.382.38)

 

 

Here Cameron photographed May Prinsep, her sister’s adopted daughter. By allowing Prinsep’s slight movement and by intentionally softening the focus, Cameron instilled a sense of breath and soul in this living apparition, for the true subject of her photograph was a poetic evocation of love and longing. “Maid of Athens, ere we part, / Give, oh, give me back my heart!” begin the verses composed by Lord Byron as he departed Greece in 1810. In the poem that inspired Cameron, Byron swore “By those tresses unconfined, / Wooed by each Aegean wind; / By those lids whose jetty fringe / Kiss thy soft cheeks’ blooming tinge; / By those wild eyes like the roe, / Zoë mou sas agapo [My life, I love you].”

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Christabel' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Christabel
1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1941
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (41.21.26)

 

 

“Yea, she doth smile, and she doth weep,
Like a youthful hermitess,
Beauteous in a wilderness.”

.
Samuel Taylor Coleridge

 

Coleridge’s unfinished poem “Christabel” (1816) tells the story of a young woman debased by sorcery. A dark poem, full of rolling fog and lesbian innuendo, “Christabel” was the kind of tale that appealed to the Victorian palate – a soup of sexual transgression and moral repair. Cameron rarely made portraits of women; rather, when she photographed them, they appeared as representations of some biblical, mythological, or literary figure. Cameron’s niece, May Prinsep, who would later marry Hallam Tennyson, son of the poet laureate, appears here as the ethereal Christabel before her corruption. Cameron’s long exposure time and distinct soft-focus technique lend the work its idealising gravitas even while, paradoxically, intensifying the realistic presence of the individual before the lens. For all her “high art” aspirations, Cameron was always quick to note that her images were “from life.”

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) '[Kate Keown]' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
[Kate Keown]
1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Jennifer and Joseph Duke Gift, 2005
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (2005.100.265)

 

 

In spring and summer 1866, having purchased a new, larger camera capable of making twelve-by-fifteen-inch negatives, Cameron produced a series of twelve “life-sized heads,” including this angelic study of tender sorrow somewhat in the style of Botticelli. Throughout her work, poetic truth was valued above photographic truthfulness. She conveyed a sense of life and breath and of honest emotion through careful lighting, her models’ slight movement during long exposures, a shallow depth of field, and softness of focus. “My first successes in my out-of-focus pictures were a fluke,” Cameron wrote. “That is to say, that when focusing and coming to something which, to my eye, was very beautiful, I stopped there instead of screwing on the lens to the more definite focus which all other photographers insist on.” In so doing, she gave the feeling of both flesh and spirit without, in Rejlander’s words, “an exaggerated idea of the bark of the skin.”

 

10._Mrs.-Herbert-Duckworth-WEB

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815 – 1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)
Mrs. Herbert Duckworth
1867
Albumen silver print from glass negative
32.8 x 23.7 cm (12 15/16 x 9 5/16 in.)
Gilman Collection, Purchase, Alfred Stieglitz Society Gifts, 2005

 

 

This portrait of Julia Jackson, which is usually trimmed to an oval, suggests an antique cameo carved in deep relief. Its success lies partly in its subject’s actual beauty and partly in the way the photographer modelled it to suggest Christian and classical ideals of purity, strength, and grace. The photograph was made the year Julia married Herbert Duckworth. Three years later she was a widow and the mother of three children.

Her second marriage, in 1878, to the great Victorian intellectual Sir Leslie Stephen, produced the painter Vanessa Bell and the writer Virginia Woolf. In her novel To the Lighthouse (1927), Virginia portrayed her mother as the searching, sensitive Mrs. Ramsay, ever suspended in thought. “She bore about with her, she could not help knowing it, the torch of her beauty; she carried it erect into any room that she entered.”

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Alice Liddell / Pomona' 1872

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Alice Liddell / Pomona
1872
Albumen silver print from glass negative
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1963
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (63.545)

 

 

Alice Liddell (1852-1934) – who, as a child, was Lewis Carroll’s muse and frequent photographic model – posed for Cameron a dozen times in August and September 1872. Against a dense background of foliage and bedecked with flowers, the twenty-year-old Liddell was photographed by Cameron as the embodiment of fruitful abundance, Pomona, Roman goddess of gardens and fruit trees.

 

 

One of the greatest portraitists in the history of photography, Julia Margaret Cameron (1815-1879) blended an unorthodox technique, a deeply spiritual sensibility, and a Pre-Raphaelite-inflected aesthetic to create a gallery of vivid portraits and a mirror of the Victorian soul. Julia Margaret Cameron, on view at The Metropolitan Museum of Art beginning August 19, 2013, is the first New York City museum exhibition devoted to Cameron’s work in nearly a generation and the first ever at the Met. The showing of 35 works is drawn entirely from the Metropolitan’s rich collection, including major works from the Rubel Collection acquired in 1997 and the Gilman Collection acquired in 2005. The exhibition is made possible by The Hite Foundation, in memory of Sybil Hite.

When she received her first camera in December 1863 as a Christmas gift from her daughter and son-in-law, Cameron was 48, a mother of six, and a deeply religious, well-read, somewhat eccentric friend of many notable Victorian artists, poets, and thinkers. “From the first moment I handled my lens with a tender ardour,” she wrote, “and it has become to me as a living thing, with voice and memory and creative vigour.” Condemned by some contemporaries for sloppy craftsmanship, she purposely avoided the perfect resolution and minute detail that glass negatives permitted, opting instead for carefully directed light, soft focus, and long exposures that allowed the sitters’ slight movement to register in her pictures, instilling them with a sense of breath and life.

The exhibition features masterpieces from each of her three major bodies of work: portraits of men “great thro’ genius” including the poet Alfred, Lord Tennyson, scientist Sir John Herschel, and philosopher Thomas Carlyle; women “great thro’ love” including relatives, neighbours, and household staff, often titled as literary, historical, or biblical subjects; and staged groupings such as her illustrations for Tennyson’s Idylls of the King, her Annunciation in the style of Perugino, or her depiction of King Lear and his daughters. Julia Margaret Cameron is organised by Malcolm Daniel, Senior Curator in the Department of Photographs at The Metropolitan Museum of Art.”

Press release from The Metropolitan Museum of Art website

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Philip Stanhope Worsley' 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Philip Stanhope Worsley
1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Gilman Collection, Purchase, The Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Gift through Joyce and Robert Menschel, 2005
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

On February 21, 1866, Cameron wrote to Henry Cole, director of the South Kensington Museum, “I have been for 8 weeks nursing poor Philip Worsley on his dying bed… The heart of man cannot conceive a sight more pitiful than the outward evidence of the breaking up of his whole being.” An Oxford-educated poet who translated the Odyssey and part of the Iliad into Spenserian verse, Worsley died of tuberculosis at the age of thirty the following May. Cameron’s portrait, made the year of his death, vividly conveys the intensity of Worsley’s intellectual life and something of its tragedy. To her subject’s hypnotic gravity she added intimations of sacrifice, engulfing the dying poet in dramatic darkness.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Alfred, Lord Tennyson' July 4, 1866

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Alfred, Lord Tennyson
July 4, 1866
Albumen silver print from glass negative
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, Michael and Jane Wilson, and Harry Kahn Gifts, 1997
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (1997.382.36)

 

 

When Cameron’s husband retired in 1848 from the Calcutta Council of Education and the Supreme Council of India, they moved to England, settling first in Tunbridge Wells, near Charles’s old friend the poet Henry Taylor, and later in Putney Heath, near the poet laureate Alfred, Lord Tennyson and his wife. For Cameron, these men were not merely friends and neighbours, but also intellectual, spiritual, and artistic advisors. In 1860, while her husband was in Ceylon checking on the family coffee plantations, Cameron visited the Tennysons’ new home at Freshwater on the Isle of Wight and promptly purchased two cottages next door, which she joined together as the new family home. Cameron’s friendship and determination knew no bounds – indeed, her kindness could be overbearing at times. It took three years of pleading before Cameron convinced Tennyson (who jokingly referred to her models as “victims”) to sit for his portrait.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'Sir John Herschel' April 1867

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
Sir John Herschel
April 1867
Albumen silver print from glass negative
The Rubel Collection, Promised Gift of William Rubel
The Metropolitan Museum of Art

 

 

No commercial portrait photographer of the period would have portrayed Herschel as Cameron did here, devoid of classical columns, weighty tomes, scientific attributes, and academic poses – the standard vehicles for conveying the high stature and classical learning that one’s sitter possessed (or pretended to possess). To Cameron, Herschel was more than a renowned scientist; he was “as a Teacher and High Priest,” an “illustrious and revered as well as beloved friend” whom she had known for thirty years. Naturally, her image of him would not be a stiff, formal effigy. Instead, she had him wash and tousle his hair to catch the light, draped him in black, brought her camera close to his face, and photographed him emerging from the darkness like a vision of an Old Testament prophet.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815 - 1879 Kalutara, Ceylon) 'A Study' 1865-66

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (British (born India), Calcutta 1815 – 1879 Kalutara, Ceylon)
A Study
1865-66
Albumen silver print from glass negative
34.4 x 26.4 cm. (13 9/16 x 10 3/8 in.)
Bequest of James David Nelson, in memory of Samuel J. Wagstaff Jr., 1990

 

 

This image, also titled After Perugino / The Annunciation, is one of more than 130 religiously themed images inspired by Cameron’s deep Christian devotion and her artistic admiration of Italian painting of the early Renaissance. Such photographs adhere to traditional iconography only in the broadest sense. Here, for example, Cameron follows the precedent of paintings of the Annunciation in which the angel Gabriel presents a lily – symbol of purity – to the Virgin Mary. More important, however, Cameron’s sincerity of sentiment imbues her work with an aura of devotion and claims for it a place equal to sacred art of the past.

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879) 'The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere' 1874

 

Julia Margaret Cameron (English, 1815-1879)
The Parting of Lancelot and Guinevere
1874
Albumen silver print from glass negative
David Hunter McAlpin Fund, 1952
The Metropolitan Museum of Art (52.524.3.10)

 

 

In 1874 Tennyson asked Cameron to make photographic illustrations for a new edition of his Idylls of the Kings, a recasting of the Arthurian legends. Responding that both knew that “it is immortality to me to be bound up with you,” Cameron willingly accepted the assignment. Costuming family and friends, she made some 245 exposures to arrive at the handful she wanted for the book. Ultimately – and predictably – she was unhappy with the way her photographs looked reduced in scale and translated into wood engravings, and she chose to issue a deluxe edition, at her own risk, that included a dozen full size photographic prints in each of two volumes.

 

 

The Metropolitan Museum of Art
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15
Aug
13

Exhibition: ‘Photographic Wonders: American Daguerreotypes from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art’ at the Taft Museum of Art, Cincinnati

Exhibition dates: 17th May – 25th August 2013

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Three Lively Women' c. 1850

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Three Lively Women
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

I love the word “occupationals” to describe portraits of individuals with the hallmarks of their trade.

Marcus

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Many thankx to the Taft 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.

 

 

Thomas Easterly (American, 1809-1882) 'Man with Elephant' c. 1850

 

Thomas Easterly (American, 1809-1882)
Man with Elephant
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

Thomas Martin Easterly

A sometime calligrapher and writing teacher, Vermont-born Thomas Martin Easterly (b. 1809 Guilford, Vermont, d. 1882) learned the daguerreotype process in New York between 1841 and 1844, possibly from Charles and Richard Meade. In 1844 Easterly sailed from New York City to New Orleans, where he made photographs before returning to Vermont the following year. He did not remain for long: by October, he had entered into a daguerreotype studio partnership in Iowa. He and his partner operated as traveling photographers working throughout Iowa and Missouri for several years. Some scholars have credited Easterly with making the first photographs of Plains Indians.

After the dissolution of the partnership, Easterly moved to Saint Louis and took over a studio in 1848. He had a successful career for ten years, but his loyalty to the daguerreotype process after the introduction of the ambrotype, tintype, and paper photograph processes caused his business to falter. By 1860 Easterly had begun to sell farm implements in addition to continuing his daguerreotype practice.

Text from the J. Paul Getty Museum website

 

Attributed to Ezekiel Hawkins (American, 1808-1862) 'The Jacob Strader at Wharf, Cincinnati' c. 1853

 

Attributed to Ezekiel Hawkins (American, 1808-1862)
The Jacob Strader at Wharf, Cincinnati
c. 1853
Daguerreotype, half plate
4 ½ x 5 ½ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

This daguerreotype of the side-wheel packet Jacob Strader was taken at the Cincinnati boatyard where she was built in 1853. Owned by the U.S. Mail Line Co., this steamboat was named to honor Jacob Strader, the company’s first ,president. The Jacob Strader ran regularly between Cincinnati and Louisville, however during the Civil War, because her large cabin contained 310 berths, she was frequently used to transport sick and wounded soldiers. This boat was dismantled in 1866.

As steamboats replaced flatboats and keelboats as the major mode of river transportation, travel along the Ohio River became faster and easier. By the middle of the nineteenth century, more than 3,000 steamboats arrived each year at the port of Cincinnati. The city’s prominent location along the river contributed to its rapid growth, and by 1850 Cincinnati became the sixth largest city in the country. The development of railroads slowly led to the decline of steamboats. They continued to operate on the Ohio River, but their numbers dwindled.

Text from the Ohio Memory Collection website

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'A Showing of Daguerreotypes' c. 1850

 

Unknown Maker (American)
A Showing of Daguerreotypes
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
3 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Comic Dentist' c. 1850

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Comic Dentist
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
3 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

American Daguerreotypes from The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, on display May 17 – Aug. 25, features 82 astonishing images of life in 19th-century America. The exhibition includes rare images of such well-known Americans as Harriet Beecher Stowe, Frederick Douglass, and Tom Thumb.

By the middle of the 19th century, Cincinnati was the Queen City of the West. A transportation hub, the city was home to industry, art, and even a professional baseball team. Though there are numerous written accounts of life in the big city at this time, we are also fortunate to have images of this era because of the earliest “photographic” works, known as daguerreotypes. In 1839 the American public first encountered this exciting new invention. By 1843, daguerreotypists had set up shop in every major city in the United States. Visitors to the Taft will have the opportunity to view these remarkable works. This exhibition features about 90 daguerreotypes of exceptional quality and variety, with the high degree of resolution typical of these rare, one-of-a-kind photographs. Works by both famed and anonymous makers provide a window into mid-19th-century America: its occupations, trades, urban and rural scenery, and racial and ethnic diversity.

In 1839 the American public encountered the exciting new invention of photography in its earliest form, the daguerreotype. Together, these two Taft exhibitions present an in-depth look at the art of early photography, as well as candid, touching, and sometimes humorous image of life in mid-19th century America and Cincinnati. A daguerreotype is a unique image crafted on a silvered copper plate, a surface that acts like a mirror. While sometimes hard to view, this exhibition presents the works under perfect lighting conditions. The earliest daguerreotypes required exposures of up to thirty minutes. Within a few years, however, portraits could be made in about ten to twenty seconds.

Among the exceptional daguerreotypes in Photographic Wonders are post-mortem images (portraits taken after death) that tell sorrowful stories, while The Comic Dentist and other humorous subjects still amuse today’s audiences. Portraits of individuals with the hallmarks of their trade (called occupationals), including a blacksmith with his tools, a woman ironing, and a clown in costume, show Americans’ pride in their work. Outdoor scenes reveal quaint towns and growing cities, while landscapes feature popular tourist destinations. The wide range of subjects offers something for every interest. The exhibited works in Photographic Wonders are part of an acclaimed collection that Hallmark Cards, Inc., donated in 2005 to The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

The choice examples selected for the Taft date from about 1840 to about 1860, while Nicholas Longworth and his family lived in the historic house that is now the Taft Museum of Art. Local Exposures, a captivating “snapshot” of life in Cincinnati in the 1800s, will delight Cincinnati history enthusiasts. A rarely exhibited Cincinnati streetscape reveals what the city looked like in 1848, while business cards and advertisements for daguerreotype studios show the prominence of the industry in Cincinnati.

“These were the first photographs. Prior to this the only way you could preserve your image was through a painting or sketch. Imagine seeing yourself in a photograph for the first time – it would seem like magic, and that’s exactly the first reaction people had,” says installing curator, Tamera Muente. Taft Museum of Art Director/CEO, Deborah Emont Scott, says, “It’s an amazing experience to view these precious, one-of-a-kind photographs. The images are small and the viewing experience is an intimate one – you step back in time and share a rare mid-19th-century moment with the sitter.”

Press release from the Taft Museum of Art website

 

William C. North (American, 1814-1890) 'The Fisherman' c. 1850

 

William C. North (American, 1814-1890)
The Fisherman
c. 1850
Daguerreotype, half plate
5 ½ x 4 ½ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Clown' c. 1850-55

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Clown
c. 1850-55
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
2 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Tightrope Walker' c. 1855

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Tightrope Walker
c. 1855
Daguerreotype, half plate
5 ½ x 4 ½ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Tom Thumb and his Mother' c. 1850-55

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Tom Thumb and his Mother
c. 1850-55
Daguerreotype, quarter plate
4 ¼ x 3 ¼ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

General Tom Thumb was the stage name of Charles Sherwood Stratton (January 4, 1838 – July 15, 1883), a little person who achieved great fame under circus pioneer P.T. Barnum.

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Woman Ironing' c. 1850-55

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Woman Ironing
c. 1850-55
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
3 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

Unknown Maker (American) 'Profile Portrait of Frederick Douglass' c. 1858

 

Unknown Maker (American)
Profile Portrait of Frederick Douglass
c. 1858
Daguerreotype, sixth plate
3 ¼ x 2 ¾ inches
The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Gift of Hallmark Cards, Inc.,
© Nelson Gallery Foundation

 

 

Frederick Douglass

Frederick Douglass (born Frederick Augustus Washington Bailey, c. February 1818 – February 20, 1895) was an African American social reformer, orator, writer and statesman. After escaping from slavery, he became a leader of the abolitionist movement, gaining note for his dazzling oratory and incisive antislavery writing. He stood as a living counter-example to slaveholders’ arguments that slaves did not have the intellectual capacity to function as independent American citizens. Many Northerners also found it hard to believe that such a great orator had been a slave.

Douglass wrote several autobiographies, eloquently describing his experiences in slavery in his 1845 autobiography, Narrative of the Life of Frederick Douglass, an American Slave, which became influential in its support for abolition. He wrote two more autobiographies, with his last, Life and Times of Frederick Douglass, published in 1881 and covering events through and after the Civil War. After the Civil War, Douglass remained active in the United States’ struggle to reach its potential as a “land of the free”. Douglass actively supported women’s suffrage. Without his approval, he became the first African American nominated for Vice President of the United States as the running mate of Victoria Woodhull on the impracticable and small Equal Rights Party ticket. Douglass held multiple public offices.

Douglass was a firm believer in the equality of all people, whether black, female, Native American, or recent immigrant, famously quoted as saying, “I would unite with anybody to do right and with nobody to do wrong.”(Text from Wikipedia)

“I have often been asked, how I felt when first I found myself on free soil. And my readers may share the same curiosity. There is scarcely anything in my experience about which I could not give a more satisfactory answer. A new world had opened upon me. If life is more than breath, and the ‘quick round of blood,’ I lived more in one day than in a year of my slave life. It was a time of joyous excitement which words can but tamely describe. In a letter written to a friend soon after reaching New York, I said: ‘I felt as one might feel upon escape from a den of hungry lions.’ Anguish and grief, like darkness and rain, may be depicted; but gladness and joy, like the rainbow, defy the skill of pen or pencil.”

Douglass, Frederick. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass. 1882, p. 170.

 

 

Taft Museum of Art
316 Pike Street at the east end of Fourth Street
across from Lytle Park, in downtown Cincinnati

Opening hours:
Wednesday – Friday, 11am – 4pm
Saturday and Sunday, 11am – 5pm

Taft Museum of Art website

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Dr Marcus Bunyan

Dr Marcus Bunyan is an Australian artist and writer. His art work explores the boundaries of identity and place. He writes Art Blart, a photographic archive and form of cultural memory, which posts mainly photography exhibitions from around the world. He holds a Dr of Philosophy from RMIT University, Melbourne, a Master of Arts (Fine Art Photography) from RMIT University, and a Master of Art Curatorship from the University of Melbourne.

Marcus Bunyan black and white archive: ‘Orphans and small groups’ 1994-96 Part 2

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