WHERE WAS SHE TAKEN? The instant Erin saw this scan of the archivally taped quarter plate masterpiece, she exclaimed, “dad this woman was taken outdoors, maybe while she sat on her porch. Look at the movement in the out of focus trees behind her. Who would paint a scene like that?” I remarked that there must have been a pond or patches of snow near her left shoulder. Looking carefully at the portrait I have determined that the very brightest areas of her image were solarized, including her flesh tones that were tinted with thick pigments to mask her appearance that she might have been from elsewhere! The blazing brightest blues meant those places were also the whitest in the amazing tableau. Rarely have I met an older female whose vivid brown eyes and softly composed mouth revealed such an understanding of her many admirers. While she might not have been looking directly into the lens when the exposure was made, she saw everyone and everything around her, then and now. The broad expanse of light from above and left of the daguerreian’s patron provided magical illumination! The vertical blue (actually white) strip of reflector seems too narrow to have successfully softened the shadows. However, because of the camera’s angle it might have been foreshortened. Or it might have been the edge of a column on the sitter’s veranda. Notice that at the last moment before the lens was uncapped either the operator or an assistant altered the position of the lady’s bonnet causing it to become slightly askew. Someone determined that the flowers lining the fabric would have blocked the illumination on her glorious face. She had already been perfectly posed and that was the only alternative. Brilliant daubs of colorful pigments were applied to the finished surface that has fine reflective depth. That area of decay caused by weeping glass might have disappeared with a soak in distilled water, BUT being very conservative because I certainly didn’t want to risk removing any of the magnificent paints, only new glass and an archival seal were done. The early complete leather case I had in inventory was sadly separated long ago from the original daguerreotype. There was a faint inscription written on the cover telling the sitter’s name and a location of Lowell MASS. That obviously has NOTHING in common with this outstanding portrait taken circa 1845-1846. When the surface is turned towards a negative image, it is rather interesting to notice how willy nilly the plate was polished, both horizontally and in a circular rotation too. Several teeny marks filled in by the gold chloride are near the lady’s wrist.
Taken Outside? Quarter PlateDag