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Half Plate


Out of stock

SKU: DX-62 Category:

WHAT A CHALLENGE! A fabulous, spontaneous portrait of five young siblings was made in the finest style of the art. This image is such an instructive daguerreotype that I could write volumes, but in order to do other business this week, I will stick with the highlights. The eldest child, seated on the left and flashing a huge, friendly smile (complete with a missing tooth, which indicates her age of 11 or 12) is firmly holding the youngest family member, who is seated upon an invisible table or chair arm. The girl is wearing a lovely dress complete with a hoop. Her shoulder length hair is parted in the middle and loose curls covered her ears. The baby wore an off the shoulder white dress, white socks and black patent leather shoes. His/her hair is combed to a peak and this kid’s large eyes reflect a huge uncertainty at the mysteries of this event. A second daughter, about 9, is standing in the middle of her brothers and sisters. Her arms are casually placed behind her back and she has the brightest eyes and smile that only a child with complete awareness and self-confidence could display. Her hair is cut short and she also wears a beautiful off the shoulder dress. Now for the boys. The older brother, about 7, is standing on the far right. He is resting one hand on a chair arm and the other on his three-year-old brother’s shoulder. He has a look of complete mistrust and stares with disdain at the daguerreotypist. He managed to stay very still, while his brother absolutely refused to behave during the exposure, rapidly moving his head back and forth. Because this young lad’s mouth is open, I am quite certain that he was screaming, “I don’t want my piture took, and I ain’t sittin still”! Considering his shenanigans is it any wonder that the sisters are smiling, even on the verge of laughing. The daguerreotypist was probably ready to reprimand the little boy. The parents were mortified no doubt, after having soundly admonished the three older kids to cooperate, or else; since this image would have been expensive. They might have been only moderately pleased by the results, but the likeness has withstood the test of time. A very small percentage of portraits allow today’s viewer to really see such wonderful animation in the characters after they were taken. This is such a tremendous example; permitting us the pleasure of meeting each child individually, seeing their reactions and actually feeling the girls ‘ delight because of the misbehavior of their little brother and the stoic firmness of the other lad. The baby was probably frightened by the little boy’s screaming. This daguerreotype was certainly made by John Whipple of Boston. It has the richness of many great Whipple daguerreotypes that I have examined. The chair that the younger boy is seated upon matches other Whipple images where it is visible. But the most remarkable aspect is the posing of the children themselves. Only a daguerreotypist with great skill and confidence would even attempt such a wonderful composition. The restored half plate is housed in a classic, plain black leather case, with a twist. It is not a push button example. There are two finely made brass latches that are commonly found on most mother of pearl and other specialty cases.