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Photograph (Daguerreotype) of a Woman Holding a Sleeping Baby, its Face and Arm Visible, by Hugh Lee Pattinson, c.1845

preview image for Photograph (Daguerreotype) of a Woman Holding a Sleeping Baby, its Face and Arm Visible, by Hugh Lee Pattinson, c.1845
Inventory Number: 22334
Object Type:
Persons: Hugh Lee Pattinson (Photographer)
Date Created:
Accession Number: 1965-11
Brief Description: Daguerreotype. Woman in patterned dress, seated, holding a baby in such a position that the camera clearly sees the baby's face, left arm, and clothing, the latter strongly suggesting a christening gown, shawl, and bonnet. Early photographs of 'sleeping' babies are rare and often interpreted as 'post-mortem' photographs (that is, dead babies, which was a fashion in early photography); but the open mouth and the context as one of a group of family portraits taken at about the same time suggest the baby really is sleeping.
One of ten daguerreotypes that were in the original light-proof tin, in which they had been purchased before exposure; the tin (29300) also contained part of a price list (12020) of the supplier Egerton dated July 1845, which provides an approximate date for the images. They have been returned to the tin after exposure, development, and (presumably) fixing, but never mounted in protective enclosures or frames, as was normal with daguerreotypes and essential not just to their handling but to their chemical survival (as daguerreotypes are sensitive to exposure to the atmosphere, not just to exposure to light, and their surfaces are extremely delicate). They have thus both faded (all the images are faint, some barely discernable under normal viewing conditions) and sustained surface damage, varying from chemical eruptions and discoloration natural to the process to gross damage from rough handling (perhaps by children of the Pattinson and Newall families).
Provenance: Presented by R. S. Newall in 1965. Originally belonging to Hugh Lee Pattinson, the donor's great-grandfather.
Collection Group:
Material(s): Copper

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