Fortified Images for the Masses

Latest articles from "Art Journal":

Pink, White, and Black: The Strange Case of James Rosenquist's Big Bo(April 1, 2014)

Dada Dance: Sophie Taeuber's Visceral Abstraction(April 1, 2014)

Fugitive Lines: Nasreen Mohamedi, 1960-75(April 1, 2014)

The Aesthetic Gold of a Ravished Spouse of the Godhead(April 1, 2014)

Connecting the Dots/Hijacking Typography(April 1, 2014)

Qualifying the Digital(April 1, 2014)

On Barnett Newman's The Wild(April 1, 2014)

Other interesting articles:

Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (January 1, 2012)

Big fun on A SmAll ScAle
National Dragster (December 14, 2012)

Developing the health workforce: What constitutes clinical education?
Contemporary Nurse : a Journal for the Australian Nursing Profession (April 1, 2011)

The dark side of the 'Arab Spring'
Middle East (May 1, 2012)

Coming to the city nearest you
Canadian Mennonite (April 2, 2012)

22 legs, 3 headscarves and a ball
Middle East (March 1, 2012)

Road food
Sunset (July 1, 2012)

Publication: Art Journal
Author: Leja, Michael
Date published: December 1, 2011

Two artists working in New York in the 1840s formed a partnership that remade print portraiture for a mass authence. One, Edward Anthony, was a daguerreotypist and photographic entrepreneur; the other. Thomas Doney, was an engraver specializing in mezzotints. A good example of their collaboration portrays former president Andrew Jackson as he looked just two months before he died in 1845.

The portrait of Jackson is a mezzotint, but as die text beneath it prominently notes, its source was a daguerreotype by Anthony, Edwards, and Company. Like many others working close on the heels of Louis Daguerre's 185g revelation of a new process for capturing photographic images on polished plates, Anthony (whose early training was in civil engineering) was an inventor and businessman as well as a photographer. He engaged a succession of partners, including Jonas Edwards, Howard Chilton, Isaiah Clark, and later his brother Henry T. Anthony, and employed a number of apprentices and assistants in an enterprise that distributed photographic supplies in addition to manufacturing daguerreotypes. All daguerreotypes produced by the company's employees were credited to the firm. The Jackson portrait is one of the rare examples for which supporting documentation permits identification of the specific photographer: a letter credits Edward Anthony himself with making the picture at Jackson's home in Nashville - the estate known as the Hermitage.' The original daguerreotype is probably lost, but the precise place and date of its making are recorded at the lower left edge of the engraving. 2 We are meant to understand that this is a momentary portrait of Jackson as he sat before the camera at the Hermitage on April 15, 184$. The print is an oblong octagon - a rectangle with cut corners - which evokes a common presentation format for encased daguerreotype portraits. If this string of explicit references to the photographic source for the image were not enough, the engraved rendering of the sitter strives to re-create and enhance the look of a daguerreotype - minus the reflections and the elusive image.

Because they entailed no intermediary negative, daguerreotypes were unique, reversed images. The forms inscribed on the polished metal, plates could be replicated only by rephotographing, Their nonreproducibiliry was a limitation felt acutely by Anthony and his first business partner, Jonas Edwards, because of the character of the business enterprise they were shaping. In 1842 they opened an office in Washington, DC, and began making portraits of the noteworthy politicians of the city. The Missouri senator Thomas Hart Benton gave them permission to use a Senate committee room as their studio, an arrangement that allowed members of Congress to stop by without inconvenience.3 Noteworthy individuals were offered free portraits of themselves in return for permission to make and sell additional plates and for rights to publish those images. In Washington these portraits were exhibited in the lobby of the House of Representatives, and in New York Anthony and Edwards maintained the National Miniature Daguerreotype Gallery on Broadway, where they displayed and sold their work. By 184c, according to one newspaper report, the gallery contained "upwards of 500 of the most distinguished men of the nation."4

Anthony and Edwards also recognized the potential profits to be made in publishing photographs. At the time, the leading monthly political and literary reviews regularly featured biographical articles on prominent statesmen, which were often accompanied by engraved portraits as frontispieces or illustrations. Ordinarily, these prints were limited to one per issue, and they reproduced painted or sculpted busts or specially commissioned line drawings of the noteworthy figures. After 1843, daguerreotypes began to take over as the most common source for these engravings. The Democratic Review, for example, one of the most influential political and literary periodicals of the time, first published a portrait based on a daguerreotype in July 1843, when the engraver Frederick Halpin copied a daguerreotype by Howard Chilton representing Thomas Hart Benton. Compared with an illustration of the same figure that had appeared six years earlier (October 1837) in the first issue of the Democratic Review, the heightened illusion of substance and presence is evident.

Thomas Doney's mezzotint of Jackson, published in the Democratic Review in September of 184c, marks a further advance in capturing the distinctive look of the daguerreotype. Mezzotint was an older, seventeenth- and eighteenth-century printmaking process that was enjoying a revival in the United States in the midnineteenth century. Its deep blacks and velvety tones appealed to readers of the finer illustrated magazines and gift books, and as a medium based on chiaroscuro, it was well suited to the reproduction of photographs. While the bust of Jackson emerges from highly controlled burnishing of the roughened plate, me edges of some forms - lapels and collar, for example - have been sharpened through engraved and stippled lines, as have forehead creases and some strands of hair. The rich black background also represents artifice beyond the range of a daguerreotype. But as in a photograph, remarkably detailed physiognomy and convincing psychological presence are achieved primarily through precise chiaroscuro. In their pine form, without engraved Unes, mezzotints present figures emerging from darkness into light, die paimtaking burnishing of the roughened plate analogous to the slow burning of lighted forms onto the daguerreotype. The play of light and dark is similar in both processes; üiey share an independence from lines and contours, which, can register as a mechanical quality.

In the Jackson portrait, textures range from sagging skin to starched collar and soft coat. The axis of the face is slighdy askew, with eyes and nose turned a bit further toward profile than the mouth, which gives the head a surprising effect of movement, as if turning. The portrait, which was Doney's debut in the Democratic Review, stood out from the ordinary fare in this genre. It must have struck a chord with the editors and readers, because the magazine reprinted it just ten months later in its July 1846 issue, a unique occurrence in the publication's history.

While Anthony is well known among historians of photography, Doney has not been studied at all. Not even birth and death dates are given in his brief encyclopedia entries. There is evidence that he was born in Tavistock, Devonshire, England, in 1809 and died in Chicago on March 17, 189O15 He spent much of his youdi in France learning the engraving trade, and at the age of sixteen he made a copy of an English landscape painting in aquatint and engraving that was included in Amédée Piehot's Voyage historique et littéraire en Angleterre et en Ecosse.6 He departed Paris for Ontario, Canada, sometime in the 1830s, possibly in search of a quieter life after a nervous breakdown.7 After spending some time in Ontario, Illinois, and Ohio, he arrived in New York by 1844. There he soon emerged as one of the best of the engravers who early on made a specialty of copying daguerreotypes. His work was not limited to portraits but included paintings of historical subjects, landscapes, and genre scenes; indeed, one of his greatest successes was his 1846 mezzotint copy of George Caleb Bingham's Jolly Flat Boat Men for the American Art Union. Already by late 184c he was being singled out as one of the engravers whose work was so good that a single print by him could justify the price of an issue of an illustrated magazine.8 In these early years as throughout his life, however, Doney's work was much better known than was his name, although by 1891 his name evoked "the English artist, whose engravings were a prominent feature of the standard American magazines of a generation ago"9 In the late 1840S his work was ubiquitous in the pictorial print culture of the United States.

That Doney's name so often went unmentioned, even when his achievements were being commended, suggests that for many commentators his work was transparent to the daguerreotypes or ofher source materials they reproduced. An August 1844 notice in the New Mirror praised a mezzotint portrait of the Whig candidate for vice president that year on the Henry Clay ticket, Theodore Frelinghuysen, as "the first really successful effort to engrave from a daguerreotype. . . . The resemblance [is] a remarkable one for a paper likeness."10 Doney was not mentioned by name - all the credit went to the daguerreotypists, Anthony, Edwards, and Company - but it was clearly his work that was being singled out. His mezzotints of Frelinghuysen and of Clay, based on Anthony, Edwards daguerreotypes, were published a short time later in the first issue of the American Whig Review. Some credit certainly was due to Anthony, Edwards, and Co., which was improving daguerreotypes by extending the range of lights and darks in the image. The Knickerbocker Magazine commended its work for providing "all that daguerreotypes have hitherto lacked - an artistic arrangement of light and shade."" This aspect was enhanced through Doney's mezzotint process to yield what was apparently a new visual experience at the time: "a paper likeness" with the remarkable detail, acute particularity, and the uncanny physical and psychological presence of a figure in an uncommonly good daguerreotype portrait. Some amount of distortion of features in these prints seems to have gone unnoticed or been tolerated as insignificant. Clay's dropped nose and mouth, for example, give him a slighuy simian look. These prints were not perfect, but they did not need to be.

These brief comments from the contemporary press call our attention to the fact that Doney *s mezzotints were accomplishing something quite remarkable. Not only were they fulfilling a practical need - converting daguerreotypes into a medium that could be reproduced in editions large enough for inclusion in a successful magazine (the American Whig Review claimed five thousand subscribers) - they were also giving stable and material form to the elusive figure floating in the reflective daguerreotype plate.12 They were, in other words, anticipating the look photographic prints would come to have in a decade or two, once collodion wet plate and gelatin dry plate processes made possible paper prints with distinct forms and a broad value range.1' By translating the daguerreotype's rich detail and subtle handling of modeling, and expanding its tonal spectrum, Doney was devising a compelling way to merge the strengths of a paper prim with those of a daguerreotype. The photographic look of his prints is all the more remarkable when we recognize that he was inventing that look as he copied. He pioneered a printmaking language in which the source daguerreotype hovered within his mezzotints the way the image of the sitter hovered in Lhe daguerreotype plate.

Evidently, Anthony and his. partners recognized Doney s potential soon after he arrived in New York. They entered into a nonexclusive agreement by which Doney would produce mezzotint copies of Anthony's daguerreotypes of politicians for publication and distribution. One avenue for this work would be the leading political and literary reviews, specifically the Democratic Review and the American Whig Review. From 1845 to 18 co Doney supplied an impressive series of frontispiece portraits to both journals, most (but not all) based on daguerreotypes, and many but not all of those by Anthony and his associates. For the Democratic Review his frontispieces amounted to more than thirty- five, beginning with Jackson in 1845 and running through the end of 185?. For the American Whig Review, the total was around twenty, beginning with the first issue in January 1845 and continuing until June 1848. He was not the exclusive supplier of portrait prints to these publications, but he was the preeminent one. The Democrats may have kept him a little busier, but the large number of prints supplied to both sides suggests mat his work was politically neutral. Members of both political parties, Democrats and Whigs, appreciated Doney's work, and both publications benefited from it. As the magazine historian Frank Luther Mott has noted, the American Whig Review became "famous for its biographies of statesmen, illustrated by engraved plates in line or mezzotint."14 For its part, the Democratic Review felt obliged to explain to readers that its omission of a portrait in its October 1846 issue (in the midst of a full year of Doney frontispieces) was being offset by the addition of sixteen extra pages. Doney's work was an attraction, and his prolific output during these years generated an inclusive portrait of the political class in Washington during the late 1840s.

What, then, did Doney and Anthony get when they crossed a daguerreotype with a mezzotint? We can understand mese images as print simulations of photographs, or as hybrids of the two media, or - as I have come to prefer - as double images, having die identity of both photograph and print, each fortified by the other. Some collections holding diese pictures classify them as photographs, another sign of the transparency of Doney's work. To contemporaries seeing them as photographs, these images would have been striking for being enriched by the fixity, the reproducibility, and some measure of familiarity supplied by the print medium. Seen as prints, then as now, they have enhanced veracity, detail, and cachet as a newer image technology, all provided by their photo- vitamin, so to speak. However, seeing them as one or the other, print or photograph, is not usually easy. They often refuse to setde into one category, instead vacillating between mechanical and. autographic image, which can produce a sense of uncanniness or an unsettling cognitive uncertainty.

The language of "vitamins" and "fortification" - and of other metaphors to come in this essays - may seem outlandish, but I resort to them in order to characterize significant changes in the image ecology developing in concert with the production of pictures for a mass authence. Mapping and understanding these changes are among my principal concerns here.

If one photo-vitamin could fortify a print so effectively, why not try one hundred? If this seems an outlandish idea, we underestimate the imagination and entrepreneurial spirit of Anthony and Doney. In December of 1843 the Daily National intelligencer, published in Washington, announced excitedly that "a chef d'oeuvre of daguerreotype is in preparation."

The Senate Chamber is to be engraved after photographs in the best style of Apollo, Chilton, and Edwards! These gendemen (the god of light not the least enterprising and efficient of the three) have in preparation a magnificent engraving of the Senators in appropriate positions, after the manner of some of the finest English prints. This is a bold and beautiful undertaking, and, from the known skill and enterprise of these gentlemen, will doubdess be successfully accomplished. Whether an adequate recompense can be realized in this country remains to be seen. Most of the miniatures for this engraving were obtained at me daguerreotype gallery of these gentlemen, and. theirs is an art particularly suited to the transfer of tie strong lineaments of Senatorial faces. The engraving will be a curiosity. A celebrated artist is to be employed for the grouping."1

From this moment in late 1843 until the appearance of the print in August 1846 - mat is, for over two and a half years - the progress of this effort was periodically reported in the press with increasing anticipation. Jb In March of 1845, three prominent publications - the Democratic Review, the New York Herald, and the Spirit of the Times - all published articles foretelling me arrival of the print in sixteen or eighteen months.17 This burst of interest is probably evidence of the promotional skills of Anthony, who evidendy primed the news pump ar this point by revealing that the print would be immense - thirty- two by forty inches; that a large number of "eminent characters" would be included, their portraits based on excellent daguerreotypes by the Anthony company; and that the print would record a historic moment; the scene during Henry Clay's farewell address to the Senate in 1842 after almost forty years in political life. Although at the time this speech was thought to mark his retirement from political life, Clay remained prominent in politics until his death in i8c2. He lost presidential bids in 1844 and 1848 but was reelected to the Senate in 1849. Throughout the roughly tenyear span when the print commemorating his retirement was being engraved, published, and marketed, Clay's political fortunes were constandy rising and falling. These fortunes seem to have had surprisingly little relation to tiiose of the print.

The spate of articles in March 184c also revealed that an artist named Whitehorne was providing the composition for the print. James A. Whitehorne (1803-1888) was a successful portraitist and miniaturist with a studio in the building occupied by Anthony's National Miniature Gallery on Broadway.'8 Although he was conveniendy located, he was not ideally suited by experience for crafting the overall design of the picture. Later his contribution would be described as only "a rough sketch of the design in oil colors."'9 None of these prepublication reports mentioned Doney's name, but in the fall of 184c the National Intelligencer reported that the unnamed engraver of this much awaited print was "said to have no superior in this country."20 Since the costs of the project were being underwritten by Anthony and his partners, who were also supplying their renowned daguerreotype portraits for copying, it is not surprising that they received most of the attention and credit.2'

When the print finally appeared in fall 1846 it was widely celebrated as an impressive achievement. No doubt the orderly and dignified portrayal of the national governing body, which in fact was growing increasingly contentious over issues of slavery, war in Mexico, western expansion, and so on. appealed to many

American audiences. Henry Clay is singled out at the back of the chamber, his head higher than the others, his farewell address presumably in progress, but he does not appear to speak, his colleagues pay little attention to him, and the evenly nonpartisan lighting does not spotlight him. Some of the figures immediately adjacent to Clay, including General Winfield Scott at his right and Senator John J. Crittenden of Kentucky at his left, have shadowed faces for no naturalistic reason; elsewhere in the print only insignificant and unidentified figures are in shadow. Clay's left arm projects forward slightly with palm turned outward in what must be an attempt to portray a rhetorical gesture indicating a speech in progress. As the "Great Compromiser," architect of one important compromise in 1820 and another to come in 1850, Clay would have been an effective symbol of political accord.

Although the print is very large, by some accounts the largest made in the United States to that time, the faces are significantly smaller than in Doney 's usual frontispiece work. The heads in the background are about a half inch high; those in the foreground about one and a half inches. A flaw in the staging of the scene makes the largest heads in it those shown from directiy behind in the foreground, which belong to unidentified placeholders. Doney 's individual portraits usually featured heads about two inches high. The compressed space in the Senate Chamber clearly presented difficulties for him. Some of the faces, especially the smallest, contain awkward passages and clumsy drawing. Some, on the other hand, are remarkably evocative and individualized miniatures.

The senators face in almost every direction except directly away from the vice president's desk, elevated at left and occupied by Samuel Southard, who had been promoted to the vice presidency after the death in office of President William Henry Harrison, who was succeeded by his vice president, John Tyler. There appear to be several focal figures, including Clay, Southard, and Nathaniel Tallmadge, who sits front row center roughly where the glances of Clay, Southard, and others converge. Many of the figures look direcdy out at the viewer. Presumably this scattering of attention was intended to inject variety and visual interest into what easily could have become a regimented and dull composition, and the decision to organize - or disorganize - the picture in this way may have been taken by Whitehorne and Anthony. Another strategy for increasing interest was placing an assortment of distinguished figures in the gallery. Women, writers, and artists appear there, providing some small measure of relief from the relendess sea of white male patriarchs below. A key published to accompany the print identifies ninety-seven figures by name. It distinguishes the recognizable bothes in the print from the unrecognizable ones, who fill awkward but necessary places anonymously (the backs of heads) or whose ghostiy presence, evoking daguerreotype figures, signals pictorial depth and multitude.

Once the print was published, Doney began to receive a substantial share of the praise pouring forth from the press. His employers, the Democratic Review and the American Whig Review, enthusiastically commended his work. The former found that

the likenesses are all excellent, being from Daguerreotypes by Anthony, Edwards & Co., of New York, and engraved by T. Doney, with whose work the readers of the Review are familiar, in the portraits engraved by him for us mondily. . . . The fine faces . . . are grouped in a most admirable and artistic manner, doing credit to the well-known skill of Mr. Doney.21

The American Whig Review agreed:

The accuracy of the portraits is such, that those who have the slightest acquaintance with the subjects, cannot fail to recognize them at a glance; and the engraving is in the best style of mezzotint. It is executed by Mr. T. Doney, an engraver whose name already stands deservedly high, and who cannot fail, by this effort, to add to his enviable reputation. ... As a work of art, this engraving deserves the attention and admiration of all who are interested in me progress of art among us.23

The Boston Daily Atlas offered perhaps the highest praise of all: "The likenesses of the Senators and many distinguished spectators ... are excellent, I may say superexcellent - Daguerrean counterparts of the originals."24

The architectural details were also praised as exact. "The picture is as natural, almost, as life. You behold the interior of the Senate Chamber just as it is, and just as it then appeared [i.e., four years earlier] ." The Senate left this chamber for larger quarters in 185-9, and after being occupied by the Supreme Court for a while, it became a storage room in the 1940s and suffered decades of neglect. When it was restored in 1972 in preparation for nation's bicentennial, Doney's print, was used to guide the restoration.

Blow-ups of the engraving were used to recreate the baldachmo and the massive chandelier, both of which had simply disappeared in 1 859 . The print also showed the lathes' gallery, a graceful semicircular balcony supported by cast-iron columns, that was added to the Old Chamber in 1828 by Charles Bulfinch, who succeeded Latrobe.That balcony had been torn down, and its reconstruction was the major structural undertaking in the restoration.26

The restorers were convinced by corroborating information that Doney's print was the most accurate representation of the room's architecture to be found.

Praise for the Senate Chamber was exceptional by period standards. It was said to do honor to the country, to rival the finest mezzotints of Europe in delicacy and strength, and to mark "a second age of the country, as Trumbull's Declaration of Independence [the large oil painting installed in the Capitol rotunda in 1826] did the first."27 Readers of senatorial debates would now be able to hold the likenesses of each speaker before them as they read, one commentary noted. Faces and texts could be read in concert.28 The American Whig Review wrote that it was "a splendid ornament for a library or lecture room, and every public institution should possess a copy"29 A copy was given as a diplomatic gift to the French National Assembly, and it was exhibited in Paris where it reportedly attracted steady crowds.30 Another copy given to Ferdinand I, emperor of Austria, earned a gold medal.31 In Buenos Aires, a copy given to the ruler Juan Manuel de Rosas was placed in the national museum.52 For years afterward the print was a popular prize for contests and a premium offered by businesses for exceptional patronage. The early history of photography written by Marcus Aurelius Root in 1864 assigned considerable significance to the print: "The portraits in this picture were striking for life-like artistic effect. This was the first notable engraving taken from daguerreotypes, extant at that date ( 1846) when this firm [Anthony, Edwards, and Clark] stood at the head of the art in New York.""

The print references an established genre of painted and printed group portraits of political figures reaching back at least to sixteenth-century Holland. This was a hybrid genre - part history painting, part group portrait. Since the English tradition in this genre was invoked in the earliest announcement of the Senate Chamber project in 1843, the paintings of George Hayter from the decades just prior may stand as prominent and representative examples for comparison. Hayter s Trial of Queen Caiolme 1820, completed in 1823, and his House of Commons, 1833, completed in 1843, are monumental paintings (roughly seven and a half by eleven and a half feet for the former, eleven and a half by seventeen and threequarters feet for the latter) that present collective portraits of political bothes on significant occasions. Hayter's portrayal of Queen Caroline's trial in the House of Lords on charges of adultery contains 189 portraits drawn and painted from life by Hayter.24 Among the numerous surviving sketches for the painting axe small and large groupings of figures as well as portrait stuthes. Hayter's House of Commons memorializes the first effects of the Reform Act of 1832, which extended voting rights and increased the representation of urban populations in England. His depiction of the newly configured body includes about three hundred seventyfive portraits, each based on a developed oil study; he struggled to get MPs to sit for him, as Ms diaries record.35 The Trial of Queen Caroline was reproduced as a mezzotint by the engravers Bromley, Murray, and Porter nearly a decade after the painting was completed.

Hayter s examples illustrate a traditional production process involving multiple media in an established sequence: autographic stuthes in ink wash or oil, finished painting, and reduced-scale print copy. The introduction of daguerreotypes into this process wrought at least two significant changes.

First, the strong commonalities between daguerreotypes and mezzotints noted above and highlighted in the work of Doney and others enabled prints to stake a strong claim to the primary position in the multimedia sequence. That a painting might seem less capable than some prints of embodying the authenticity of a daguerreotype, in part due to painting's reliance on color and autographic marking, is understandable. The typical sequence shifted somewhat to allow daguerreotypes, as preparatory works, to lead almost directly to a print, although Whitehorne 's painted compositional sketch remained a necessary intermediary. Could the print then lead to a secondary, painted image? One commentator on the Senate Chamber in 1846 asked for as much; he wished "to see a copy of this picture painted on a large scale by one of our first artists for a panel in the Rotunda of the Capitol."36

Second, as preparatory stuthes, daguerreotypes were only minimally processed, so to speak. Whereas Hayter s sketches of sitters or groups of figures went some distance toward transforming the material subjects before him into pieces of a painting, already embedded in style and composition, Anthony's daguerreotypes made few concessions to the mezzotints they would help to shape. This is not so much an issue of their being made by an artist other than the mezzotint maker, although that is a factor; more significant is then dogged attachment to the world of real substance. The forms in a daguerreotype are incompletely converted into marks, unlike the forms in an autographic sketch. Or to put this another way, the figure in a daguerreotype portrait has one foot in the material world and one in representation.

This is to question the idea that photographs can simply replace sketches as preparatory stuthes for complex works. Artists have made this claim, almost from the first appearance of photography. For example, Samuel F. B. Morse told an authence at the National Academy of Design in 1840 that tiianks to the daguerreotype, the artist

can now furnish his smdio with foe-simile sketches of nature, landscapes, buildings, groups of figures, etc., scenes selected in accordance with his own peculiarities of taste; but not, as heretofore, subjected to his imperfect, sketchy translation into crayon or Indian ink drawings, and occupying days, and even weeks, in their execution; but painted by Nature s self with a minuteness of detail, which the pencil of light in her hands alone can trace . . . they cannot he called copics of nature, but portions of nature herself.37

That they are not imperfect, sketchy translations into markings but remain portions of nature is precisely what separates daguerreotypes as preliminary studies from drawn sketches. The photograph preserves some of the obdurate altericy of the material world, and this feature will have to be addressed in a later stage of the process, or else it might just seep into the finished product. There will likely be something of the collage or the composite in the mezzotint composed from daguerreotypes. The fortifying supplements will probably not be digested completely.

Pose is also an issue when we consider the character of daguerreotype portraits as preparatory studies. Some of the figures in the Senate Chamber allegedly were photographed with the mezzotint in mind. Press notices, no doubt relaying information supplied by Anthony, reported that "each likeness has been engraved from a single daguerreotype taken for the purpose," meaning, presumably, that each person was photographed in the position he would occupy in the overall composition.58 This may have been true to some extern, but Anthony and Doney also wanted the daguerreotypes - and the free-standing mezzotint portraits based on them - to be viable as independent works. Period commentators noted the conflict:

The grouping of so many figures in a manner where a reference to favorable position for likenesses necessarily interfered with those which would have produced a more pleasing general effect, formed a serious obstacle in the way of the Artists who were engaged upon the work, but one which it is thought they have happily surmounted - at least to a very great extent.59

Positions favorable for individual likenesses conflicted with the demands of pleasing general effect. Most if not all of the individuals in the Senate Chamber who were also featured in individual mezzotints are shown, either exactly as they appeared in then autonomous portraits or simply flipped on the vertical axis.40 Which of two mirroring images we choose to label "flipped" is rather arbitrary, given that some of the individual portraits were published months after the Senate Chamber print appeared, and given also that the flipping process began with the original daguerreotype.

The preference for "favorable positions for likenesses" results in many figures looking out of the picture and others staring into space. The resulting scattered and unfocused quality of the composition provokes consideration of the relation between formal and political unity. In some ways, formal disunity enables the fiction of political unity; if each individual is in a unique and disconnected world, alliances and factions are obscured. Hayter's House of Commons also shows figures facing in varied directions, an arrangement that one reviewer described as "interesting and naturally varied."4' No doubt interest, naturalness, and variety were concerns of Anthony, Whitehorne, and Doney, too, but there is something distinctive about the disjunctions in the Senate Chamber.

The formal disunity does not seem to have troubled contemporary commentators much. They tended to minimize the problem, perhaps out of boosterish motives, or perhaps they appreciated this feature. "Unlike any preceding work of the kind, [it] was not engraved from a complete original drawing or painting, but from detached portions with only a general outline of their combination."42 "Detached portions" is a good description. The spaces occupied by adjacent figures often do not flow into one another; differences of scale can be jarring; and figures overlap without casting shadows on one another. To add to the sense of dislocation in the work, viewers familiar with Doney's frontispiece portraits would have recognized some of the heads inserted into the print. The consolidation of an overwhelming number of daguerreotypes was the source of fascination of this print, with each daguerreotype marking offa distinct slice of world that might blend with others, but never completely. Whether sitters were photographed in predetermined positions mattered less than the fact that each figure was shot separately, from a distinct vantage, and that the multiple viewpoints would never merge into one. Disunity was arguably the natural form for a print super-fortified by photographs, a print that consolidated one hundred or so distinct pieces from a nonautographic medium, plus the individual mezzotint portraits they generated. Of course disunity has been recognized as a characteristic of group portraits since Alois Riegl's classic study of the genre in Holland, in which issues of internal and external coherence were central to his analysis.43 However, the special character of the Senate Chamber's disjunctions - 'the combination of stiffness in its figures, disintegrai viewpoints, awkward delineation within a chiaroscuro mode, and other qualities signaling the immediate presence of photographic sources - 'marked the print's difference from the tradition represented by Dutch examples and Hayter s paintings.

The artist Sherrie Levine has spoken of her appropriation work - especially her photographs of earlier photographs - in terms that are useful here.

The pictures I make are really ghosts of ghosts. . . .When I started doing this work, I wanted to make a picture which contradicted itself. I wanted to put a picture on top of a picture so that there are times when both pictures disappear and other times when they're both manifest; that vibration is basically what the work's about for me . . .44

The term "ghost" will evoke the daguerreotype portraits whose evanescence, I have argued, was not compounded but countered in mezzotint copies. But even as it turned the ghosdy photographic figure into substance, the mezzotint displayed its daguerreotype source as a ghosdy underlayer. Knowing that a picture has other pictures under or over it complicates our response to it, even in cases where we cannot see the layers - as in Levine 's photographs or some of the individual portraits in the Senate Chamber that are not obviously based on daguerreotypes. The characteristics of the underlying or overlaid pictures may accrue to what is visible or be offset. The extraordinarily dense layering and clustering of images in the Senate Chamber are signaled by the particular character of the dislocations in the composition. The architectural space may be coherent and clear, but the figures jostle uncomfortably enough to keep vivid the sheer weight of the many daguerreotype plates that have been compacted into this printed sheet of paper.

It is interesting to compare die Senate Chamber with a painting it resembles as much as it does Hayter 's paintings: Morse's House of Representatives of 1822-23. If the similarities between the pictures were not obvious enough, Doney and Anthony included Morse in the gallery of distinguished visitors - positioned almost directly above Clay, he wears a striped cravat. Morse's painting preceded the Anthony and Doney print by almost twenty-five years, and it was never intended to become an engraving. Morse designed it as an exhibition picture that would tour the country attracting visitors at twenty-five cents a head (as other paintings had been doing, including John Trumbull's Declaration of Independence and Rembrandt Peale s Court of Death a year or so earlier).

The tour was a financial failure, probably for reasons Paul Staiti has proposed - most importantly, that Morse's elitist millennial agenda was out of step with the Jacksonian populism of the period.4* But Staiti also catalogues a series of formal liabilities that limited the success of the picture: its "undersized figures, equal emphasis on each person, physical inaction, psychological ambivalence, dominating architecture, denarratized form, and the apparently inexplicable presence of Supreme Court Justices, publishers, a preacher, and even an Indian chief!" Except for the Indian chief, he could almost be talking about Doney 's print. Certainly Clay's speech, however minimally represented, has greater dramatic interest than the lighting of the Congress Hall chandelier in advance of an evening session. If Doney 's figures sometimes look distracted, Morse's really were milling about. Morse sets viewers back from the action, as if just approaching the seating area; Doney 's (or Whitehorne's) viewers stand almost at the corner desk, in the thick of things, looking directly across at Clay. Morse made small portraits from life of each of the one hundred or so figures included in the painting, sometimes painting as many as five a day. How much of the difference between success and failure could be attributed to the appeal of the daguerreotypes over portraits from life?

No sales figures for Anthony and Doney 's Senate Chamber are known, but circumstantial evidence indicates that, in contrast to the tour of Morse's painting, the print was commercially successful. In order to meet the heavy demand for copies of the print, Doney *s plate had to be reworked. Printing reportedly was suspended in 1846 when the integrity of the plate started to suffer, mezzotint not being suited to truly mass production in terms of either durability or cost.46 Another kind of fortification was needed. The print marks a transitional moment when market expansion has exceeded the capacity of an old-fashioned image technology. The publishers did what they could. "The printing was immediately stopped, and the plate put again into the hands of the Engraver, to add to its beauty and national interest the character of durability."47 The New York Public Library holds a proof of the original impression, which I take to be pure mezzotint. The Library of Congress and the National Portrait Gallery have copies of the later state, with engraved lines added throughout. New print technologies better suited to mass authences were coming along - specifically, wood engraving and lithography - but neither of these could have approximated the look of Lhe printed photograph with the force of mezzotint. There were limits to what the sensational combination of daguerreotype and mezzotint could accomplish, but Lheir amalgamation enabled the Senate Chamber to claim a public importance greater than Morse's mural-sized painting. Daguerreotypes facilitated the compression of large content into the relatively small space of a print.

Another measure of the success of the Senate Chamber is the number and range of sequels it generated. Doney himself made a few further attempts at large group portraits. In 1854 he engraved one based on painted portraits rather than daguerreotypes. The subject was Distinguished Americans, at a Meeting of the New York Historical Society, for which the painter Julius Gollman provided some fifty portraits painted from life. The Boston Daily Atlas offered a description.

We have been permitted to examine a splendid steel engraving, containing fifty portraits of distinguished Americans, from all professions and callings in life. The scene is laid in the Chapel of the University of the City of New York, at a meeting of the Historical Society. The plate is thirty by twenty-two inches. The portraits, with the exception of three or four, are engraved from paintings taken from life, by Julius Gollman, Esq., expressly for this work. The engraver is Thomas Doney, Esq., the engraver of the celebrated picture representing the Senate Chamber, when Mr. Clay was making a speech, on taking leave of the Senate.48

The critic expressed reservations about one feature of the work.

if we were to present a criticism upon this work of art, we should say that, in some portions of the group, there is too much family resemblance in the portraits - a defect into which most artists are apt to fall in works of this kind. Many of them appear to us to be a little too round favored, if we may use an expression nearly obsolete, showing less of care, and more of the fullness of an alderman, than an accurate representation would justify.

"Family resemblance" implies that stylistic homogenization was at work in the portraits, and in the era of the photo-fortified image, a quality formerly thought to be essential to art was coming to be seen as a defect. Taken in this sense, die criticism questions the choice of paintings over photographs for the portraits. The print generated none of the excited press commentary that the Senate Chamber had.

The next year Doney returned to his successful formula. The American Christian Union was engraved by Doney from daguerreotypes provided by M. M. Lawrence and from an "original picture painted expressly for this engraving" by Eugenio Latilla. The heads in this image are larger; some are crowded together, some more generously spaced. The bodies are aligned in rows, but the disunity seen in the Senate Chamber is even more marked here. Differences of scale, multiple focuses of attention, and figures enclosed in discrete spatial pockets minimize the unity of the group.

Other artists, working in various media, also took up Anthony and Doney's lead. G. P. A. Healy's monumental painting of the Webster-Hayne debate was begun at about the same time Anthony and Doney started working on the Senate Chamber. After various delays it was completed in i8ci and exhibited for admission fees in Boston, New York, Washington, and other cities. Its portrayal of events two decades earlier made it necessarily more a history pamting than a portrait, aldiough Healy did work from life studies of many of the participants. The work was old fashioned in the sense of being done in a single medium - painting - and designed, like Morses House of Representatives, for touring exhibition. Press commentary evaluated this work as a history pamting in terms quite different from those inspired by Doney's print: "Around him [Webster], the eye beholds a dignified assemblage - all attentive as a body - all touched more or less by the 'burning eloquence' contained in that 'great speech.'"49

In 1855 the painter Peter Rothermel and engraver Robert Whitechurch published an update of the Senate Chamber, this time featuring Henry Clay's latest historic oration: the Compromise of 185o. The United States Senate.A. D. 1850 employs a far more familiar approach to historical composition, however. Principal figures and action are concentrated in the front foreground, dramatic gestures establish a focal point and clarify activity, light and value contrasts direct a viewer's attention, and supporting figures are hierarchically organized and engaged in the principal drama. Rothermel was a history painter who knew how to stage historical events with the requisite clarity and drama. But this history painting was also a photofortified collective portrait. Rothermel and Whitechurch used daguerreotypes to produce the work, but in a process significantly different from that of Doney and Anthony. The daguerreotypes by an unnamed photographer were used to make the painting, which Whitechurch then copied in. toto.50 The print was offered for sale at various levels of exclusivity: $25" for a signed artist s proof, $20 for a handcolored copy, $7. co for a print on India paper, and $5 for a plain proof.

It was no useless task which engaged the artist's hand during the execution of the magnificent engraving of the "Senate Chamber," but rather an interpretation and embodiment of a nation's want; for the portraits of our great men should not be permitted to fade away like the forms which we consign to dust, but in the palace of the rich and the humble cottages of the poor, let them be found , . .51

The promotional text conflated the Anthony-Doney project with that of Rothermel and Whitechurch, making explicit the latter 's desire to reach the broadest possible audience.

One very different kind of group portrait provides an illuminating conclusion to this brief survey of experiments with Anthony and Doney's successful multimedia recipe. A mezzotint by Thomas Barlow shows the writer Washington Irving and some of his literary friends and associates at his home, Sunnyside, in upstate New York. This picture belongs to a different subgenre of group portraiture, one that encompassed in this period great inventors - Men of Progress - as well as artistic followers of the painter Eugène Delacroix.51 The feature of this picture relevant to the present context is the process by which it was made, specifically the media it entailed and the sequence of their implementation. A New York Times article provides the necessary details.

The composition of the Irving picture is unusually free and good. . . . The attitudes of the figures are remarkably natural. These results have not been obtained without forethought and much labor. In me first place, Mr. F. Ö. C. Darley, the well-known draughtsman, was called upon for the design, and the success we have referred to is entirely owing to this gentieman.Then special photographs were taken of all the leading characters; each individual being placed in the exact position required by Mr. Darley. In this way wonderful accuracy of face and figure has been insured. After the results of these separate sittings had been incorporated in the whole, the design was twice photographed and finished with the greatest care. The engraving, which is nearly ready, is executed from this photograph, and promises to be one of Mr. T. O. Barlow s greatest successes. Mr. C. Schussele has since reproduced it [the photograph] in oil, being assisted in his task by additional sittings on the part of the principal figures. He shares with Mr. Darley the merit of having produced the best national picture ever painted in America. . . . Compared with those well-known engravings. Walter Scott and His Friends and Shakespeare and His Contemporaries, the present work is absolutely animated."53

By this account photography intervened at two stages in the process. First photographs were used to insure the precision and accuracy of the drawn portraits, then new photographs of the completed drawing were made, evidendy to allow the simultaneous execution of Barlow's print and Schussele 's painting.

Some hypotheses warranting further testing seem to me justified by diese case studies.

i. A convincing portrait likeness in this period required bringing together multiple media and multiple artists. Truthfulness and stability were supplied by different media, and collaborations among practitioners skilled in each medium maximized the authenticity of a portrait.

2. Transmedial fortification and consolidation were effective strategies for attracting a mass authence as well as for supplying a mass market. The mixing of image technologies seems to have fascinated authences while simultaneously maximizing exhibition and distribution venues.

3. In the 1840S and i8r;os, daguerreotypes were at the bottom of an image food chain (not to be confused with a status hierarchy) . They were consumed by ravenous media such as painting and printmaking, which sought ways to display and publicize the presence of photographs contained within them. Before the end of the century, photography would get its revenge, when new photographic technologies and photomechanical printing processes made photography the principal consumer of works in all media.

4. Images in the t84os and i%os were treated as fluidly transferrable across media whenever exhibition or distribution requirements dictated. There was no conception of medium-specificity in the realm of mass-image manufacture, except as a set of characteristics that could be lent to another medium through a kind of fortification.

5. As indicated by me multiple and unconventional metaphors mobilized in this essay - vitamin, food chain, digestion, fortification, consolidation - a new image ecology took shape as publishers, began to target mass audiences. Intermixing media replaced traditional orders, relationships, and procedures, such as established ways of constructing finished works from preparatory studies.

6. Aesthetic changes were implicated in the mixing and jostling of media forming this new image ecology. Tolerance, even appreciation of formal disunity grew in mese circumstances as it came to be associated with such desirable features of images as transmedial production. Disjunction may have begun to be naturalized as the normal and proper form of truthful imaging when modernist art adapted it to the representation of modernity.

1. The letter, from Jackson's neighbor and friend Alfred Balch to Edward Anthony, dated April 18, 1845, attests that the daguerreotype gives "an exact resemblance of the General," and it opens by saying, "I have examined with care the Daguerreotype likeness of General Jackson just taken by Mr, Anthony of the city of New York . . ." The letter is reproduced in William Marder and Estelle Marder, Anthony, the Man, the Company, the Cameras: An American Photographic Pioneer (Plantation, FL· Pine Ridge Publishing, 1982), 32., That Anthony made the trip for the purpose of taking the picture is corroborated in "Burning of the National Daguerreotype Miniature Gallery," Humphrey's Journal. April 15, 1852, 12.

2. A badly scratched version of the Image, possibly a copy daguerreotype made by Matthew Brady, is in the collection of the Library of Congress.

3. See Marder and Marder. 24. Evidently this arrangement was not too unusual. Around this time, the artist Eastman Johnson, perhaps with the help ©f his father's political connections, was permitted to use a Senate committee room for drawing lithographic portraits. See Patricia Hills; Eastman iohnson (New York: Whitney Museum of American Art, 1972). 6.

4. "By the Southern Mall," New York Herald. March 15, 184s. n.p.

5. Doney's birthplace is often mistakenly given as France, but see Abram William Foote, Foote Family: Comprising the Genealogy and History of Nathaniel Foote of Wethersfieid, Conn, and His Descendants, vol. 2 (Burlington, VT.: Free Press, 1932). 852 (entry for John Taiman). See also Carrie. Lee Steele, "John Taiman," Magazine of Poetry 3, no. 3 (1891): 360.

6. Amédée Picho:, Voyage, vol. 3 (Paris: Ladvocat et Gosselin, 1825), at 315. The print reproduces a painting by Dervint titled tes Bords de la. Tweed, près du Chateau d'Abbotsford, résidence de Sir Walter Scott.

7. See Charles Trick. Curreliy, I Brought the Ages Home (Toronto: Royal Ontario Museum, 1956), 3. Curredy writes that his mother's elder brother was the engraver Thomas Dóney, Who "worked in Paris until a nervous, breakdown made It necessary to bring him back to Devonshire . . ." and subsequently to travel "to the new world, where, it was assumed, the quiet forests and all the wonderful developments that were being'talked about would probably cure him."

8. Doney's. Napoleon 's Farewell with his Son, after a painting by François Grenier de Saint Martin, which appeared as the frontispiece of the January 1846 issue of the Columbian Magazine, was said by one newspaper to be one of two illustrations that were "alone worth the price of the number." "The Illustrated Monthlies for 1845," Boston Daily Atlas. December 17, 1844.

9. Steele. 360.

10. New Mirror (New York) 3, August 31, 1844. 352, The passage is quoted in Marder and Marder, 29.

11. "Editor's Table," Krwckerfaodcer, or New-York Monthly Magazine 27 (June 1846): 563.

12. The number of subscribers to tbe.American Whig Review is given in Frank Luther Mott, "The American Whig Review." History of American Magazines, 1741-1850 (New York: Appleton, 1930), 754.

13. Paper prints made from William Henry Fox Talbot's photographic process, using paper negatives, were available in the United States but were not as successful as daguerreotypes. Moreover, they did not have the sharpness or value range of later processes for making paper prints.

15. "From Our New York Correspondent" Daily Notional Intelligencer, December 11, 1843. 3.

16. Photographic Artjoumal of May 1851, 318, dates the initiation of the plan one year earlier - the winter of 1842.

17. Demoaatic Review 16 (March 1845): 310-11; "Superb Daguerreotypes," Spirit of the Times (New York), March 8, 1845, 20; "By the Southern Mail," New York Herald.

18. See "Superb Daguerreotypes," 20.

19. "New and Invaluable Work of American Art," Boston Daily Atlas, November 6, 1846, 2.

20. "Editors' Correspondence," Daily National Intelligencer. September 24. 1845, 3.

21. Anthony reportedly undertook to publish a volume of portraits from his National Miniature Daguerreotype Gallery, as reported in the New Mirror, August 31. 1844. 352.

22. "The Senate Chamber," Democratic Review 19 (December 1846): 492.

23. "The United States Senate Chamber." American Whig Review 4 (October 1846): 431-32.

24. "Potomac," "Correspondence of the Baltimore Patriot," Boston Daily Atlas, August 24, 1846. 2

25. Ibid.

26. Stephen Goodwin. "Safeguarding the Senate's Golden Age." Historic Preservation 35 (NovemberDecember 1983): 23.

27. "A Splendid Monument of American Art." Daily National Intelligencer, August 10, 1846, 4. See also "New and Invaluable Work of American Art," Boston Daily Atlas. November 6, 1846, 2.

28. See "The Senate Chamber." Democratic Review 19 (December 1846); 492.

29. "Engraving of the U, S, Senate Chamber," American Whig Review 6 (December 1847): 654.

30. See "Scenes In Paris," Richmond Inquirer, April 7, 1848: Boston Daily Atlas, April 11. 1848.

31. See Weekly Eagle (Brattleboro, VT), March 3, 1848. The citation is quoted in an advertisement for the print, reproduced in Mander and Marder, 24.

32. E. Anthony, "Engraving of the United States Senate Chamber." pamphlet (New York: Anthony, 1847). n.p.

33. Marcus Aurelius Root The Camera and the Pencil; or The Heliographie Art (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1864), 362.

34 Descriptive Catalogue of the Great Historical Picture Painted by Mr. George Hayter Representing the Trial of Her Late Majesty Queen Caroline of England (London: Gold and Walton, 1823).

35. See Joseph Coohill. "Sir George Hayter and the 1833 House of Commons," British Artjoumal 7 (December 2006), 58-61.

36. "Potomac." 2.

37. Morse, quoted in Root. 391 (italics in original).

38. "Splendid Monument," 4.

39. Photographic Art-journal, May 1851. 318.

40. Theodore Frelinghuysen and Rufus Choate are examples of individuals whose portraits are reversed.

41. Athenaeum, April 1843, 340 41. quoted in Coohill. 59.

42. "Splendid Monument," 4.

43. Alois Riegl, The Group Portraiture of Holland. trans. Evelyn Kain and David Britt (Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute. 1999).

44. Levine, quoted in an interview, Jeanne Siegel, "After Sherrie Levine," Arts Magazine, Summer 1985, 141.

45. Paul Staiti, Samuel E B. Morse (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 1989), 71-73.

46. See "Senate Chamber Print Reissued," American Whig Review. December 1847, 654. which notes, "The plate of this celebrated work has, we understand, been retouched and improved by the engraver, that it may yield a larger number of impressions, in answer to the Increased demand." According to Photographic Art-Journal. May 1851, 318. "a few copies" of the print were made in autumn 1846, "but the demand that sprung up immediately on its appearance was so great, that it was evident that the plate would not supply it, unless the character of the engraving were changed from simple mezzotint to a composition of line and mezzotint. The printing was immediately stopped - After the lapse of nearly a year, the printing was again commenced , , ." This explanation appeared originally in Edwards, "Engraving of the United States Senate Chamber," a four-page pamphlet published in 1847, when printing of the work resumed.

47. Photographic Art-Journal, 318.

48. "Portraits of Distinguished Americans," Boston Doily Atlas, january28, 1854, 2.

49. "Healy's New Painting," Raleigh Register, September 17, 1851 3.

50. There is some discrepancy in published reports concerning whether Rothermel's original was a drawing or a painting.

51. The United States Senate, A.D. 1850 (Philadelphia: Butler and Long, 1855), IV.

52. Schussele's painting Men of Progress (1862), showing nineteen important inventors, is in the collection of the National Portrait Gallery, Washington. DC. Henri Fantin-Latour's Hommage à Delacroix (1864) is in the Musée d'Orsay, Paris, On Fántln's paintings in this genre, see Bridget Alsdorf, "The Art of Association: Fantin-Latour and the Modern Group Portrait" (PhD diss., University of California, Berkeley, 2008).

53. "Fine Arts," New York Times, December 1, 1863. 4.

Author affiliation:

Michael Leja teaches at the University of Pennsylvania. This essay is part of a book in progress on the industrialization of picture production circa 1850. Earlier books include Looking Askance: Skepticism and American Art from Eakins to Duchamp (2004) and Refram'mg Abstract Expressionism: Subjectivity and Painting in the 1940s (1993). Recent articles have appeared in the journal Social Research and in exhibition catalogues on Henry Ossawa Tanner (Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, 2012), John Rogers (New- York Historical Society. 2011), and American painting and photography (Georgia O'Keeffe Museum, 2011).

The use of this website is subject to the following Terms of Use