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Woman alive

  • Object:

    Daguerreotype

  • Place of origin:

    United States (probably, photographed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1845-1855 (photographed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Sixth plate dagerreotype mounted in hinged wood embossed leather case

  • Credit Line:

    Purchase funded by the Photographs Acquisition Group

  • Museum number:

    E.642:2-2014

  • Gallery location:

    Prints & Drawings Study Room, level C, case MB2H, shelf DR5

The daguerreotype was the first form of photography to be announced to the world in Paris in January 1839. They are unique, direct positive images formed on a sheet of highly polished and silvered copper. The process flourished primarily for commercial portraiture and rapidly replaced portrait miniature painting as a record of a loved one and an intimate keepsake. Mememto mori or post mortem daguerreotypes are an important genre within early photography. The unusual example of the 'double portrait', housed in one case of the elderly woman alive and deceased makes a powerful comparative pairing. The subject's resting pose of her crossed hands in the life portrait is intentionally and aptly echoed in the post mortem image.

Physical description

One of two mounted daquerreotypes in hinged wood case covered with embossed leather. This image, on the right when case is opened, is of a woman with eyes open wearing a fabric bonnet fastened at the chin. Her arms are crossed.

Place of Origin

United States (probably, photographed)

Date

ca. 1845-1855 (photographed)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Sixth plate dagerreotype mounted in hinged wood embossed leather case

Dimensions

Height: 9.3 cm case, Width: 8.1 cm case, Depth: 1.8 cm case, Width: 16.2 cm case

Descriptive line

Daguerreotype of an elderly woman, alive, unknown photographer, ca. 1845-1855

Labels and date

Gallery 100: A History of Photography: Series and Sequences, 6 February 2015 – 1 November 2015.
Daguerreotypes are one of the earliest forms of photograph, invented in 1839. They are unique, positive images formed on a sheet of highly polished and silvered copper. An early genre in photography used daguerreotypes to record people after death. The unusual example here also includes a portrait of the elderly woman alive. The subject’s pose in the living portrait is intentionally and aptly echoed in the post-mortem image. [03/02/2015]

Materials

Copper; Wood; Leather

Techniques

Daguerreotype; Embossing; Woodworking

Subjects depicted

Memento Mori; Death; Women

Categories

Photographs; Death

Production Type

Unique

Collection

Prints, Drawings & Paintings Collection

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