Image: 20 x 15 cm (7 7/8 x 5 7/8 in.); Framed: 32.5 x 27.3 cm (12 13/16 x 10 3/4 in.); Matted: 61 x 50.8 cm (24 x 20 in.)
John L. Severance Fund 2002.30
Southworth, a druggist, and Hawes, a carpenter and self-taught painter, operated a daguerreotype studio together in Boston that served the city’s elite. Masters of the aesthetic and technical aspects of the medium, they built the first skylight in Boston to supply a clear, strong light in their studio. Another of their innovations was the addition of an extra layer of silver to their plates to enhance the luminosity and level of polish of their daguerreotypes. This medallion portrait is an example of the most difficult and expensive portrait mode of the 1850s. A daguerreotype plate was first masked and then a perforated template was moved around to take separate exposures on the same plate using a mechanism Southworth patented.
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