Albert Sands Southworth (American, West Fairlee, Vermont 1811–1894 Charlestown, Massachusetts)
Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, Wayland, Massachusetts 1808–1901 Crawford Notch, New Hampshire)
visible: 18.6 x 13.7 cm (7 5/16 x 5 3/8 in.)
The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee and Lila Acheson Wallace Gifts, 1997
Not on view
Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes were known worldwide for the extreme finesse of their daguerreotype portraits of Boston's notable politicians, writers, merchants, and other prominent citizens, a fine collection of which was among the early photographic acquisitions of the Metropolitan Museum in 1937. This whole-plate daguerreotype shows a type of subject not otherwise represented in the Museum's collection of Southworth and Hawes-a display of American sculpture at the Boston Atheneum. At the center is a plaster cast of Diana of Versailles, famed since the sixteenth century as a touchstone of Roman sculpture. Around it, in one of the earliest permanent displays of sculpture in America, are a cast of Houdon's bust of Washington and another, possibly of Franklin—in sum, a declaration of Boston's claim to be the "Athens of America." Like the casts themselves, Southworth and Hawes's exquisite daguerreotype is a faithful copy of reality, in their words a "transformation of shadows into substance."
Inscription: Inscribed in black crayon on plate verso: "Daguerreotypes by Southworth & Hawes Boston"; portion of seal attached; in Landing of Columbus thermoplastic union case
Hermine B. Rubel; William Rubel; [Hans P. Kraus, Jr.]
This daguerreotype depicts one of the earliest permanent displays of sculpture in America, at the Boston Athenaeum. At the center is a plaster cast of Diana of Versailles, and around it are a cast of Houdon's bust of Washington and another, possibly of Franklin.