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H6948-3 Photographic positive, hand-tinted ambrotype in case, studio portrait of Mr Urquhart, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865. Click to enlarge.

Ambrotype studio portrait of 'Mr Urquhart'

Made
  • 1854-1865
This photograph is significant because it is one of the few surviving hand-tinted 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. The accession register states that the sitter in the portrait is a 'Mr. Urquhart' and another ambrotype in the collection H6948 2 is of 'Mrs. Urquart' but we currently have …

This object is part of

Summary

Object No.

H6948-3

Object Statement

Photographic positive, hand-tinted ambrotype in case, studio portrait of Mr Urquhart, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865

Physical Description

Photographic positive, hand-tinted ambrotype in case, studio portrait of Mr Urquhart, collodion / paint / glass / wood / paper / metal / velvet, photographer unknown, 1854-1865

An ambrotype showing a 3/4 length portrait of a young man photographed seated in a studio setting. The man wears a three piece suit and bow tie. He looks directly into the camera and has his right elbow resting on the arm of the chair he is seated on. The ambrotype has been tinted with the man's cheeks in pink and bow tie in pale blue. The ambrotype is enclosed in a hinged case made from wood that has been covered in leather. The lid has partially detached from the base, however it opens to reveal the ambrotype on the right hand side. The ambrotype is framed in a rectangular brass mat with a scalloped edge. A glass panel sits over the top of the brass mat and another decorative brass frame sits on the outside of the glass. The opposite side of the case is lined with red velvet featuring an embossed decorative pattern. On the outside of the case, the leather also features an embossed decorative pattern. A metal hook on the side of the case allows it to be closed securely.

Dimensions

Width

125 mm

Depth

10 mm

Production

Made

  • 1854-1865

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

Cite this Object

Harvard

Ambrotype studio portrait of 'Mr Urquhart' 2021, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 27 October 2021, <https://ma.as/247048>

Wikipedia

{{cite web |url=https://ma.as/247048 |title=Ambrotype studio portrait of 'Mr Urquhart' |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=27 October 2021 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}