overly large daguerreotypes..

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  • #7490

    CasedImage
    Keymaster

    I thought it would be good to post this as often folk approach daguerreotypy with the notion that big is better and want to know the limits.

     

    A call for information on large daguerreotypes on the Yahoo Photo history list by list member David Haynes resulted in a series of replies. David collated all this and agreed it to be reproduced here for the benefit of cdags.org readers. Attached are images from links mentioned, file name number refering to the list below.

     

    “Fotopholks,

     

    This is my current “final” report that summaries the data listmates provided to help identify the large daguerreotype I asked about several weeks ago. If you kept a copy of my previous list, please replace it with this one. In addition to everyone who provided information before–Bill Becker, Susan Barger, Rory Cook, James Eason, Gary Ewer, Nicholas Graver, Anne Havinga, Matt Isenberg, Allan Janus, Drew Johnson, Terry King, George Layne, Andrew J Morris, Irving Pobboravsky, Gregory Popovitch, Linda Ries, Richard Rudisill, Robert Shlaer, Will Stapp, Roger Watson, and Marta Weiss–it is a pleasure to acknowledge additional input from Greg Drake, Mark Koenigsberg, and Jonathan Spira. If anyone can add anything else, either corrections to the present entries or information about additional plates, I would be delighted to have it and will post updated “final” reports as additional information is received. The Web addresses mentioned below were all accessed in the first quarter of 2009. Thanks to all.

     

    The following list comprises the only daguerreotypes larger than double full plate that I was able to find.

     

    1. Boston merchant Stephen Tilton, his wife, and 12 family members (7 males and 5 females), by John Whipple, Boston, about 1846, approximately 11 X 13 inches (27.9 X 33 cm) horizontal, current owner–private collector [shutterbug.com/features/0906treasure]

    2. Family portrait (4 males and 7 females), by John Whipple, Boston, about 1849, approximately 10¼ X 12¼ inches (26 X 31.1 cm) horizontal, current owner–Museum of Fine Arts, Boston [http://mfa.org/collections/ (search for 1970.330)]

    3. Charles Sprague, by Southworth & Hawes, Boston, about 1850, approximately 12¾ X 16½ inches (32.4 X 42.2 cm) vertical, current owner–Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York [http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/ (search for 37.14.50)]

    4. Family group (5 females and 2 males), unknown photographer, about 1850, 10½ X 13½ inches (26.7 X 34.3 cm) horizontal, current owner–private collector (previously part of the Spira Collection) [http://www.spira.com/spira/home.nsf/ItemView?OpenForm&SRC=FB11958187EA4F52852575940069DA80~~211.jpg]

    5. Boston innkeeper (Tremont House) John C. Tucker, by Southworth & Hawes, Boston, about 1851, approximately 13 1/8 X 16¼ inches (33.4 X 41.3 cm) vertical, current owner–Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, [http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/ (search for 37.14.57)]

    6. Crystal Palace at Hyde Park, London, by John Mayall, London, 1851, approximately 9¾ X 12 inches (24.8 X 30.5 cm) vertical, current owner–J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles [Masterpieces of the J. Paul Getty Museum: Photographs, pl. 5]

    7. Hamilton College class of 1840 graduate Theodore W. Dwight, by Jeremiah Gurney, New York, about 1851, 11 X 13 inches (27.9 X 33 cm) vertical, current owner–Emerson Gallery, Hamilton College [Hamilton Collects: A Century of Curiosities (exhibit catalog), p. 15]

    8. New York 7th Regiment Sergeant with cape, sword, and 1853 regulation shako, unknown photographer, about 1854, 9½ X 11½ inches (24.1 X 29.2 cm) vertical, current owner–Mark Koenigsberg Collection [America and the Daguerreotype edited by John Wood, p.128]

    9. Family group (2 males and 2 females), unknown photographer, about 1854, 10 7/8 X 14 inches (27.6 X 35.6 cm) vertical, current owner–Mark Koenigsberg Collection [Photographs (Sotheby’s auction catalog, sale #7348, New York, 6 October 1999, lot 3)]

    10. Indiana native and California transplant Horatio G. Finch, by Richard Vance, San Francisco (presumed), 1855, 10 5/8 X 12 5/8 inches (27 X 32 cm) vertical, current owner–Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley [http://content.cdlib.org/ark:/13030/tf9c6007jj/]

    11. A senator from Maine and his family (5 males and 7 females), by John Whipple, Boston, unknown date, 10¾ X 12¾ inches (27.3 X 32.4 cm), current owner–dealer Sebastien Lemagnen (possibly, purchased at auction, 30 Sept 2006) [The Jack Naylor Collection of Early Photography (Royka’s auction catalog, Boston, 20 September 2006, lot 15)]

    12. Class photo of Rutgers Female Institute (17 female students and 2 male instructors), unknown photographer, unknown date, 11 X 14 inches (27.9 X 35.6 cm) horizontal, current owner–Preus Museum, Norway [History of Photography 1:2 (April 1977), last ad page]

    13. & 14. Two portraits in upstate New York, by Martin Lawrence (attributed), unknown date, 11 X 14 inches (27.9 X 35.6 cm), current owner–private family [no copies located]

    15. Portrait of unknown person, unknown photographer (possibly John Mayall), unknown date, 25 X 29 inches (63.5 X 73.7 cm) vertical, current owner–Science Museum, London [The Science Museum Photography Collection (catalogue) by D. B. Thomas, #352, p. 52] Note: It is not clear whether the plate or the frame is 25 X 29, but one researcher states that the measurements refer to the frame. On that basis, and to follow photographic convention, I will assume that the plate is 20 X 24 until I have actual evidence to the contrary, still the largest plate know to have survived. I invite input from any colleague who has an opportunity to visit the National Media Museum, apparently the current location of the plate.

    16. Benjamin Stone Roberts (presumed), unknown photographer, date, and place, approximately 11 X 13 inches (27.9 X 33 cm) vertical, current owner–private family [scan available at http://tech.groups.yahoo.com/group/PhotoHistory/ (search on photos/Haynes)]

     

    I have heard that the following two oversized plates may exist, but I have been unsuccessful in finding any actual reference to either:

     

    a. Clipper ship captain, possibly by Southworth & Hawes

    b. Young man (possibly listed in a Victoria & Albert Museum exhibit catalog, but no daguerreotype like this is listed in the collection database on the V&A Web site)

     

    Richard Rudisill lists two plates, now owned by the Oakland Museum, in his Mirror Image as being larger than full plate size (portrait of John Fremont, pl. 27, and South Park in San Francisco, pl. 69), but the museum catalog lists each as being full-plate size. Each is, however, framed rather than cased.

     

    The portrait of William Langenheim held by the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, appears to be less than double full plate size (it is listed in their Web catalog [http://www.metmuseum.org/works_of_art/collection_database/ (search for keyword 2005.100.80)] with an image size of 7 5/8 X 9 5/9, but with a frame size of about double those dimensions. So it is not obvious if the listed image size is the size of the plate or the visible size within the mat.

     

    In addition, there are at least two literature references to larger than double full plate images, but no actual extant daguerreotypes support these notices:

     

    Josiah Hawes (interview), “Stray Leaves from the Diary of the Oldest Professional Photographer in the World,” Photo-Era (Boston) Vol. 16 (February 1906): “We had the reputation of making as fine daguerreotypes as were made by anybody. Some of them were very large ones–20 x 24–probably the largest ever made on silver plates.” [The largest S&H plates now known to exist are the two 13 X 16½ inch plates listed above and an unsensitized 11 X 14 inch plate owned by Matthew Isenberg.]

     

    “Photography in the United States,” New-York Tribune (semi-weekly) 8:825 (Friday, 22 April 1853): 1 “By a camera made by Harrison, the operator is enabled to take a portrait nearly life-size, on plates 14 by 17 inches, the lens alone being 6½ inches in diameter; the cost of the apparatus was $400.

     

    David Haynes

    San Antonio”

     

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    #7998

    corey r
    Participant

    If we include contemporary practice, Binh Danh has some incredibly large images. Since the plates are produced out of camera this may not be pertinent to the topic you had in mind.

    #7999

    CasedImage
    Keymaster

    Thanks Corey, I have pointed the author of the lst to Adam Fuss’s images also as they also are very large (see attached). He thought David Burder’s 28×48 inch plate was a little outside the scope as it has many small images on the plate, albiet of the same scene.

     

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    #8012

    jdanforth
    Participant

    Having made a run of about 1 dozen 8×10 dags for a London artist I feel qualified to say that large daguerreotypes are a colossal pain in the ass to make. Alan, I’m sure, would also agree that the cases for such a daguerreotype are preposterous.

    Because I’ve tried it I really have to admire the gumption of Mr. Fuss and our 19th century brethren!

    Humbug… I’m switching to freakin’ sixteenth plates. Do they make a 1/32nd plate? Grumble grumble mumble hurumph.

    #8013

    CasedImage
    Keymaster

    Yes a case for 14×11 inch plate would be a challenge, I did once make a passe partout for Adam Fuss for a plate that size. At those sizes the hand held concept really goes right out the window so a case is not necessary, they are wall pieces requiring specific lighting rather than white walled gallery spaces.

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    #8862

    Sean Culver
    Participant

    Saw this big dag in London about 4 years ago (attached). Never seen one bigger (DB not with standing). Found 5×7’s much more difficult than 4×5’s which are somewhat more difficult than 3X4’s.

    #8037

    Sean Culver
    Participant

    Forgot to shrink the London big dag image, here it is again.

     

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    #8039

    CasedImage
    Keymaster

    Great pic Sean, I think that part of the science museum has been redone now and those dags are no longer on display.

    The image illustrates well how difficult it is to view such large plates, they become much less an image and more of a object. Often people will look at a dag and say ” great, I’d love one in 8×10″ or 10×12″, but at those sizes its not the intimate view where you see the whole breathtaking and captivating image.

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    #8899

    photolytic
    Participant

    Great pic–Of a frame.

    Here’s the real thing with the actual image photographed by David Burder in 2003 and published in the D_Society news letter that year.

     

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