The Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences acknowledges Australia’s First Nations Peoples as the Traditional Owners and Custodians of the land and gives respect to the Elders – past and present – and through them to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples.
Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples are advised that the MAAS website contains a range of Indigenous Cultural Material. This includes artworks, artifacts, images and recordings of people who may have passed away, and other objects which may be culturally sensitive.
H6868 Photographic positive, studio portrait, hand-tinted ambrotype of a seated woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865. Click to enlarge.

Hand-tinted ambrotype

Made 1850-60

This photograph is one of the few surviving hand-painted ambrotypes with links to Australia. While millions of these ambrotype photographs were produced around the world and many thousands in Australia remarkably few have survived that can be linked to Australian society during the 1850s and 1860s. Although the sitter in the portrait is currently unidentified the museum recognises the importance of maintaining its collection of ambrotypes as examples of the fashion and early photographic process...

Summary

Object No.

H6868

Object Statement

Photographic positive, studio portrait, hand-tinted ambrotype of a seated woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865

Physical Description

Photographic positive, studio portrait, hand-tinted ambrotype of a seated woman, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865

An ambrotype showing a woman photographed seated in a studio setting. The woman wears a dark coloured dress with a white lace collar and a bow in the middle of the collar. She sits in a straight backed chair and rests her right elbow on the table beside her. A book can be seen on sitting on the table. There is a backdrop behind the woman that features a painted landscape scene. The ambrotype has been tinted with the woman's cheeks pink and the bow on her dress blue and pink.The ambrotype is enclosed in a hinged case made from wood that has been covered in leather. The case opens to reveal the ambrotype on the right hand side. The ambrotype is framed in an arch shaped brass mat. A glass panel sits over the top of the brass mat and a rectangular brass frame surrounds the glass. The opposite side of the case is lined with green velvet and features a embossed design of a vase surrounded by flowers. Two metal hooks on the side of the case allow it to be closed securely.

Dimensions

Width

195 mm

Depth

10 mm

Production

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

Made

1850-60

Source

Credit Line

Purchased 1961

Acquisition Date

10 August 1961

Cite this Object

Harvard

Hand-tinted ambrotype 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 20 October 2019, <https://ma.as/246814>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/246814 |title=Hand-tinted ambrotype |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=20 October 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

Know more about this object?

TELL US

Have a question about this object?

ASK US