skiagraphia

skiagraphia

Posted on 05/31/2013


Photo taken on December 30, 2010


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portrait
cased image
ambrotype
early photography
American
USA
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vintage
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sixth plate


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Four abandoned ancestors: II. The husband

Four abandoned ancestors: II. The husband
6th plate ambrotype
unidentified American photographer, ca. 1860
entry number: amb.2010.05.

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 a young lady posing with her child, this man and two portraits of an aged woman.

Here we have the young gentleman, proud and straight in his elegant frock coat and ornate (though barely visible) waistcoat. Breast-pin and watch-chain are gleaming, alluding to the prosperity of the owner. His authoritative pose and the hand-on-hip gesture is typical for the authoritative bourgeois man of the XIXth century (one may compare it, for the similarities as well as for the differences, with Ingres` portrait of M. Bertin). But here, the subject himself seems a bit too young for the authority he is trying to convey, and the haze of damage around him shades his boastful appearance. Anyways, if he was indeed husband & father to the ones portrayed in the first ambrotype of the group, he had some good reasons to be proud.

This ambrotype and the previous one are absolutely similar in size, technique, marks left by the original matting, and deterioration. They probably formed a family group - as there are thousands preserved in the U.S. - they were probably taken at the same studio, if not at the same time as well, and endured the same fate.

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.

Comments
Nylonbleu
Nylonbleu
Looks a little bit afraid, but what a dashing young man !! Is garment is very elegant !!!
3 years ago.
skiagraphia
skiagraphia
Speaking about frightful things: in just a couple of years, he would've been going to war....
3 years ago.