Posted on 05/31/2013

Photo taken on December 30, 2010

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cased image
early photography
sixth plate

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Four abandoned ancestors: I. The mother and the daughter

Four abandoned ancestors: I. The mother and the daughter
6th plate ambrotype
unidentified American photographer, ca. 1860
entry number: amb.2010.04.

This is one of a group of four ambrotypes that I acquired in 2010, which have apparently belonged to one single unidentified family. The group comprises this young lady posing with her child, a young gentleman (most likely the lady`s husband) and two portraits of an aged woman.

I have a taste for saving severely damaged early photographs, and this portrait certainly shows many of those unwanted "qualities". A bluish haze of decayed collodium surrounds the impression of a confident woman holding her daughter, who wears - rather atypically for her age - a little gown and a gold-tinted necklace. Together with her potential husband, they have the air of a young urban bourgeois couple on their way to succes. I just wonder what did the Civil War bring to them.

All four ambrotypes lost their cases and protective devices long ago, if I am to judge from their appaling condition. They seem to have been affected by uncareful handling and moisture, rather than prolonged sunlight - so they may have spent much of their history forgotten in the attic. I`m intending to devise some sort of provisional archival housing for them, until I`ll manage to find some reasonable new cases.


View this ambrotype on Flickr.

Josef Novák, BeautyOfThePast have particularly liked this photo

I love the three portrait you have posted, but this is my real favorite, the woman looks so alive, so contemporary, it is fabulous !
4 years ago.
Thank you, this is my favourite as well from this set of four ambrotypes. I'm moved by the way that engaging gaze breaks through the battered surface.
4 years ago.