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America’s First Masters of Photography: Southworth & Hawes

America’s First Masters of Photography: Southworth & Hawes


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Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes of Boston produced extraordinary daguerreotype portraits during their 19-year partnership (1843-1862), often stretching the creative limits of the new medium of photography.

The images presented here spent more than half a century in a Massachusetts basement, part of a group of 240 Southworth & Hawes works that were unknown and unseen until 1999. {For that part of the story, click here}

Accompanying the images are the words of Albert Sands Southworth, drawn from his advice to sitters (published in 1854-1855) and from his addresses to the National Photographic Association in 1870 and 1873.

Click here for the Introduction to this exhibition.

Click on any image below to view an enlargement and more information.

Woman in Floral Bonnet and Zig-Zag Dress

“Expression is everything in a daguerreotype. All else,–the hair –jewelry –lace-work –drapery or dress, and attitude, are only aids to expression. It must at least be comfortable, and ought to be amiable. It ought also to be sensible, spirited and dignified, and usually with care and patience may be so.”

–A. S. Southworth, 1854

“Learn to look and see the difference under different lights in the same faces. Learn to see the fine points in every face, for the plainest faces in the world are human faces, belonging to human beings… “

–A. S. Southworth, 1873

Vignette With a Black Background

Winter Portrait with Fur Coat and Gloves

“There is a soul and feeling in the natural face… for the Almighty made it for the very purpose that you must see it, and you can see it. You must feel that the human face is handsomer than the finest artist ever painted it. I say it, I believe I am right. Excuse me for so much feeling.”

–A. S. Southworth, 1873

Stereoscopic Portrait with Columns

“In the nice production of light and shade which is the perfection of modelling, the Daguerreotype will be found to surpass the Artist’s best efforts, being capable of representing independently, action, expression, and character to a great extent; and in some instances approaches very nearly, if it does not equal these higher branches, thus developing beauty in grace of motion and in repose, which is the first object and the supreme law of all Art.”

–A.S. Southworth, 1855

Multiple Portrait of a Woman in a Shawl (detail, right)

“The artist, even in photography, must go beyond discovery and the knowlege of facts; he must create and invent truths and produce new developments of facts. “

–A.S. Southworth, 1870

“What is to be done is obliged to be done quickly. The whole character of the sitter is to be read at first sight; the whole likeness, as it shall appear when finished, is to be seen at first, in each and all its details, and in their unity and combinations.”

–A. S. Southworth, 1870

Vignette of a Woman With Veil (possibly the poet and author Lydia H. Sigourney)

A Group

“It should be the aim of the artist-photographer to produce in the likeness the best possible character and finest expression of which that particular face or figure could ever have been capable. But in the result there is to be no departure from truth in the delineation and representation of beauty, and expression, and character.” — A. S. Southworth, 1870

Click here for a report on the auction of the Feigenbaum Collection of Southworth & Hawes

Click here to return to the Introduction to this exhibition.

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