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Past Exhibitions

Likeness in the Latest Style: Historical Portrait Photography

July 9 - October 30, 2011

Third Floor Galleries

Likenesses in the Latest Style explores the formative era of portrait photography through an assemblage of dozens of stunning original images. Emerging in the mid-nineteenth century simultaneously with a vibrant middle class that had the means and desire to capture the likenesses of loved ones for posterity, photography instantly transformed American culture. The great demand for high-quality, inexpensive photographic portraits drove rapid technological changes that also revolutionized the medium itself within the short span of a few decades.

Combining artistic skill and scientific expertise, historic portrait photographs were prized depictions of individual personalities rendered with cutting edge technology. Ranging from the straightforward poses of 1840s daguerreotypes to whimsical 1870s carte-de-visites, the photographs on display help illustrate the changes in photographic techniques during this critical period. Special sections of the exhibition will explain how and why studio portraits of the time were made, and highlight some of the work produced by the numerous local photographers of the era. Complementing the concurrent exhibition, Soldier Ambrotypes by Ellen Susan, a significant portion of the historic images will feature soldiers from the Civil War era, drawn from the holdings of noted collectors David Wynn Vaughan and George S. Whiteley IV.