Art/ Collection/ Art Object
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Donald McKay

Photography Studio:
Southworth and Hawes (American, active 1843–1863)
Artist:
Albert Sands Southworth (American, West Fairlee, Vermont 1811–1894 Charlestown, Massachusetts)
Artist:
Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, Wayland, Massachusetts 1808–1901 Crawford Notch, New Hampshire)
Date:
ca. 1850–55
Medium:
Daguerreotype
Dimensions:
21.6 x 16.5cm (8 1/2 x 6 1/2in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gift of I. N. Phelps Stokes, Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes, 1937
Accession Number:
37.14.1
Not on view
This first photographic process invented by Louis Daguerre (1787-1851) spread rapidly around the world after its presentation to the public in Paris in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silvered copper plate is a unique photograph that, viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality.
The Boston partnership of Southworth and Hawes produced the finest portrait daguerreotypes in America for leading political, intellectual, and artistic figures. They also catered to a wealthy local clientele including the shipbuilder Donald McKay (1810-1880). A native of Nova Scotia, McKay learned the business in New York before settling in Boston and establishing his own shipyard. An imposing and slightly intimidating subject, McKay wears the elegant expensive attire of a gentleman with a thriving business. In addition to making this portrait, Southworth and Hawes made views of McKay's shipyard and several of the vessels constructed there, including the famed Champion of the Seas. At the time of its launch in 1854, it was the largest sailing vessel in the world and, for a time, it is said to have been the home of this striking portrait.
Inscription: Inscribed in pencil, verso TR: "Donald McKay // Original"

Marking: Hallmark TL: Doublé / A. Gaudin [see Spirit of Fact (Sobieszek and Appel, 1976) #10, p. 153]
Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes; [Holman's Print Shop, Boston]; I.N. Phelps Stokes, New York, 1937

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Hawes-Stokes Collection of American Daguerreotypes by Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes," November 4, 1939–December 7, 1939.

George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film. "The Spirit of Fact: The Daguerreotype of Southworth & Hawes, 1843–1862," February 1976–June 1976.

National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution. "The Spirit of Fact: The Daguerreotype of Southworth & Hawes, 1843–1862," July 1976–December 1976.

Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. "The Spirit of Fact: The Daguerreotype of Southworth & Hawes, 1843–1862," January 1977–February 1977.

Moore, Charles LeRoy. "Two Partners in Boston: The Careers and Daguerreian Artistry of Albert Southworth and Josiah Hawes." Master's thesis, University of Michigan, 1975. no. 543.

Newhall, Beaumont. The Daguerreotype in America. 3rd Revised ed. New York: Dover Publications, 1976. no. 67.

Sobieszek, Robert A., and Odette M. Appel. The Spirit of Fact: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, 1843–1862. Rochester: George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, 1976. no. 8.

Szarkowski, John, and Richard Benson. A Maritime Album: 100 Photographs and Their Stories. Newport News, Va.: Mariners' Museum, 1997. no. 15.

Romer, Grant B., and Brian Wallis, ed. Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes. New York: George Eastman House International Museum of Photography and Film, 2005. no. 240.



According to the Boston Daily Atlas for March 24, 1854, the captain's cabin in McKay's new clipper ship Champion of the Seas (cat. no. 1828 {Young America}) was outfitted with three daguerreotypes: one of the ship Great Republic, one of the Champion of the Seas, and one of McKay himself.

Biography: Canadian-born shipbuilder Donald McKay (1810-1880) established his first clipper ship and the largest merchantman ever constructed, at the time, was launched in 1850. McKay was famous for the effciency of production as well as the speed of his vessels, such as the Flying Cloud (1851) and the Lightning (1854), which set new records. [Young America]
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