Skip to content

Three Daguerreotypes of Dr. Gilman Daveis and his Wife


In stock

SKU: D-260 Category:

DR. GILMAN DAVEIS. A fantastic lot of three daguerreotypes, two presenting Dr. Gilman Daveis and the third showing his wife and one their daughters. The first image is a primitive restored sixth plate of Dr. Daveis taken July 12, 1843 as notated underneath his likeness. He was seated with one elbow placed on an unseen table. He tightly clasped his hands across his waist. The good doctor was lit by light that entered from the left. If a reflector was used, it was too far off on the right to adequately present a highlight and shade ratio, thus creating a rather sinister rendering of the gent?s face eventhough his dark liquid eyes and soft lips appeared to be friendly enough. The silver was robustly polished with buff marks visible at all angles. There was moderate lens distortion. The image had a blue/gray cold tone as if the suface had been thinly gilded with gold chloride. Obviously his maker was still learning the fine art of daguerreian portraiture even in mid-1843! He is nicely framed under an plain brass oval mat and the presentation is housed in a leather case with a classical horizontal Lyre theme. The blue blossom on his dark jacket occurred over time. That is not a scratch coursing from the mat to the doc?s curly hair. There is a similar fainter one on the opposite side of his head. Those lines were either part of the patina or chemical stains. Mold spiders and other specks are also present.� I should mention that the contrast is excellent and the depth is reflective.

Fast forwarding about 10 years, Dr. Daveis has gained weight, seen his hairline recede and obvioulsy he has gained stature in profession.� He could easily afford to hire a daguerreotypist to create his stunning archivally sealed half plate, a powerful bust portrait taken about 185. �His head and torso were turned away from the lens and those still youthful midnight hued eyes calmly peered at a fixed object away from the lens. A superlative lighting scheme with the brightness entering from overhead deliniated his strong face to perfection.� The exceptionally well manufactured lens elements permitted the operator to use a remarkably sharp selective focus! The teeny white specks were daguerreian frosting that sometimes naturally occurred when the daguerreotypist, and in this example a consummate professional, ?pushed? the development to obtain greater richness in the blacks.� The overall contrast was extraordinary and the reflected depth was sensational!� One mark on the left in the drop near the mat was a polishing flaw.� Faint patina lines are visible on the top and right hugging the brass mat along with bolder oxidation elsewhere inside the surround.� You might have read this two word statement previously but let me describe this particular portrait as Perfection Personified!� He is kept in a complete leather case.

The third image is a retaped sixth plate of his wife, who was seated and firmly holding their eldest daughter with her gloved hands. Miss Annie Emery Daveis, was born in 1848 and died in 1900. This daguerreotype was made by Marcus Ormsbee, probably in Portland, Me., about 1850-1851. It was slightly dark with intense tonality.� Mom and Annie were framed by patina.� Their likeness was quite lovely and endearing. An intact black leather push button case is present.

Three ambrotypes include two quarter plates of Dr. Daveis.� One was quite stunning taken by R. Adams.� He used the Cutting’s patent of July 3, 1854. �That information was stamped in the lower corners of the brass mat.� A badly cracked but still together plastic case holds the piece.� The second portrait was most likely taken on the same day.� Daveis changed into a different suit jacket and vest.� This piece was unidentified but the cloud like background above his head was identical in both portraits.� Only the bottom of a leather case remains. Rufus Adams advertised and operated as an ambrotypist at 163 Middle St. Portland Maine from 1856-1859.

The third ambrotype is an older, cunning Annie wearing a fancy bonnet, coat and gloves in about 1858.� She resides in a separated case imprinted with an American flag on the cover.

Mr. Richard Majka, a very dear friend and client, who has provided me with inspiration and vast knowledge while researchering daguerreotypes in my own collection of portraits circa 1839-1843 provided this information about Dr. Daveis:

?Daveis, John Taylor Gilman (1816-1873)
This careful and punctilious physician, one of the earliest practitioners in diseases of the eye in Maine, was born in Portland, Maine, March 21, 1816, the son of Charles S. Daveis, a distinguished lawyer, and Frances Ellen Gilman, a daughter of Governor Gilman, of New Hampshire.� Gilman Daveis, as he was generally called, was educated in the public schools, studied medicine in Portland under the direction of Dr. John Taylor Gilman, and graduated from Bowdoin College M. D. in 1837 and with the same degree in the same year from the University of Pennsylvania. Bowdoin conferred the degree of A. M. on him in 1858.� Immediately after, he settled in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, practiced there for five years, then returned to Portland, where he practiced successfully for thirty years. Among the cases which early helped him to local fame and practice was one of club-foot, which he cured after it had been repeatedly treated in vain by others, and also a successfully operated case of squint. As an oculist he gained more than a local recognition, and did many successful operations. He read before the Maine Medical Association one or two excellent papers on ophthalmology.� He owned an excellent medical library, and read abundantly on contemporary literature, in fact was one of the best read physicians in Maine.� He wore a broad black tie, in a bow knot, and his coat always had a black velvet collar. Small tabs of beard ornamented each cheek, and he had a radiant, agreeable face.� It is curious that so little can be learned concerning a man so widely known.� Dr. Daveis was president of the Maine Medical Association in 1857-58.

The death of this physician came without a warning, for while preparing to operate upon a patient, he was seized with a violent pain in his right shoulder, which rapidly extended downwards and involved his whole side, so that he had to leave his patient and take to his bed. Pneumonia set in, and he died in a few days on May 9, 1871. American Medical Biographies, Howard Atwood Kelly and Walter Lincoln Burrage. (Baltimore: The Norman, Remington Company. 1920) p. 286.� The Maine Medical Association was founded on April 28, 1853 when twenty-seven physicians met at the Tontine Hotel in Brunswick pursuant to a call ?addressed to a portion of the medical profession throughout the state.? At the Annual Meeting on June 4, 1857, Drs. Gilman Davies, Alonzo Garcelon and J.C. Weston were appointed to a committee to procure a seal for the Association. Dr. Davies reported to the Sixth Annual Meeting on June 3, 1858, that having exhausted his own fund of ingenuity and following the wishes of his colleagues, he had consulted friends: ?The ready brain of Dr. Oliver Wendell Holmes, of Boston, had suggested that which he had regarded as most eminently appropriate. The North Star and the mariner?s Compass, with the motto Natura Duce, Arte Adjuvante were the emblem and title decided upon.? The report was unanimously accepted.?

I offer this entire family group.


, , ,