Daguerreotype, tinted and gilted highlights, half plate
Image: 14 x 10.8 cm (5 1/2 x 4 1/4 in.); Case: 15.3 x 10.8 cm (6 x 4 1/4 in.); Matted: 61 x 48.3 cm (24 x 19 in.)
Gift of Charles Isaacs and Carol Nigro 2003.297
Although portrait sittings were directed by the photographer, sitters had some input in shaping their identities by choosing their pose, clothing, possessions, and sometimes backdrop. People came to the studio dressed in their finest outfits, and they often brought objects to represent their interests or occupation, such as the tuning fork held by the music teacher. Hand painting could draw attention to luxury items, as in Young Woman with Pantalettes, where her jewelry is dabbed with gold paint and the lacy cuffs of her pantalettes are enhanced with white paint. Most people had only a few photographs made during their lifetimes; therefore, they were often used to mark rites of passage such as graduation and marriage.
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