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H5779 Photographic positive, ambrotype, hand-tinted, studio portrait of a woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographed by Henry Death, Camberwell, London, England, 1860-1865. Click to enlarge.

Ambrotype of a woman

Photographed
This photograph is significant because it is one of the few surviving hand-painted ambrotypes by the Henry Death of Camberwell, London. The accession register for this photograph states that the woman in the portrait is the grandmother of a local Sydney woman, Mrs. M. W. Carter, and was taken around 1862. The museum recognises the importance of maintaining its collection of ambrotypes as examples early photographic processes in Australia in this period and its links with British immigration.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, September 2009

Summary

Object No.

H5779

Object Statement

Photographic positive, ambrotype, hand-tinted, studio portrait of a woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographed by Henry Death, Camberwell, London, England, 1860-1865

Physical Description

Photographic positive, hand-tinted ambrotype, studio portrait of a woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer Henry Death, 5 Addington Place, Camberwell, United Kingdom, 1860-1865

An ambrotype showing the portrait of an older woman seated in a studio setting. The woman wears a dress with a full skirt and long sleeves. The dress has a lace collar and cuffs. She wears a brooch at her collar, rings, bracelets and a chain around her neck. The ambrotype has been hand tinted with her jewellery in gold and her dress in blue. The woman rests her right elbow on the small table next to her and holds a white handkerchief in her left hand. A glass panel sits over the ambrotype. An oval brass mat sits over the glass and rectangular brass frame holds the layers together. There is a panel of cardboard at the back of the frame.

Marks

A stamp on cardboard at the back of the portrait reads 'HENRY DEATH / Artist / [6 Addington Place / CAMBERWELL]'. Handwritten in red biro below the stamp 'Scott-Archer process / This photo 1862'.

Dimensions

Width

105 mm

Depth

8 mm

Production

Made

  • c.1862

Notes

In 1851 Frederick Scott Archer announced the discovery of a new photographic process that could adhere to glass. This was a major breakthrough in the story of photography for the process made clear highly detailed negatives form which multiple copies could be made.

The general public had become used to their photographic portraits being taken using a daguerreotype process which were displayed in a small glass fronted case. To compete with this trade a special kind of collodion process, known as the ambrotype was introduced. This was essentially the same as other collodion negatives except that once the exposure had been taken the emulsion on the glass was bleached to whiten it. When this bleached negative was placed in a case against a black background it formed a positive image which bore a remarkable resemblance to the daguerreotype except it had the added advantage of not being highly reflective.

Australia followed rather than set photographic trends but in the 1850s, the massive boom caused by the discovery of gold ensured it was very quick to take up new processes like the ambrotype. Over the 1850s the ambrotype replaced the daguerreotype as the preferred method of taking portraits but even in the late 1850s daguerreotypes were still being made for more conservative customers.

Geoff Barker, Curatorial, September 2009

References
J. Cato, The Story of the Camera in Australia, Third Edition, Institute of Australian Photography, Hong Kong, 1979
Michel Frizot, A New History of Photography, Amilcare Pizzi, Milan, 1998
Helmut and Alison Gernsheim, A Concise History of Photography, Thames and Hudson, Germany, 1965
A. Davies and P. Stanbury, 1985, The Mechanical Eye in Australia, Oxford University Press, Melbourne

Source

Credit Line

Gift of M W Carter, 1958

Acquisition Date

21 May 1958

Cite this Object

Harvard

Ambrotype of a woman 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 2 March 2021, <https://ma.as/244349>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/244349 |title=Ambrotype of a woman |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=2 March 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}