Multiple Portrait of a Woman in a Paisley Shawl
Sixth-plate daguerreotype (2.75 x 3.25 inches), circa 1850
There is no negative in the daguerreotype process, so making multiple copies of a single image was often difficult. Some studios used multi-lensed cameras to make the job easier, and Southworth & Hawes patented a special repeating camera back in 1854.

It's extremely unlikely that Southworth & Hawes would have delivered a plate like this to a customer. In all probability, it would have been cut apart so the individual images could be fiitted into lockets or other jewelry. This rare intact survivor is made even more unusual by the intimacy of the composition and by the details it shows of the studio--the trademark column and chair, and what may be a thermometer on the wall.

Formerly: The David Feigenbaum Collection of Southworth & Hawes. Private Collection.


"Daguerreotype has become the infant-school of art. There are a thousand to look at, and criticise, and possess a picture now, to one ten years ago. Shapes and forms are observed, studied and compared; disagreeable, and unfavorable effects of light and shade are contrasted with agreeable and fortunate; universal interest is felt in its progress; and it has come to be a fine art indeed. Every Daguerreotypist's energy is taxed to its utmost to perfect his apparatus, to cultivate a correct taste, to improve and discipline his eye, and to acquire those powers of perception and feeling, which will best fit him to perform his complicated duties and enable him to equal the just expectations of the public."

--From a promotional article by Albert S. Southworth in The Massachusetts Register: A State Record, for the Year 1852, p.327

Courtesy: Gary W. Ewer

"The artist, even in photography, must go beyond discovery and the knowlege of facts; he must create and invent truths and produce new developments of facts. "
--Albert S. Southworth, "An Address to the National Photographic Association," 1870

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