Art/ Collection/ Collection/ Art Object

[Two Men Playing Checkers]

Artist:
Unknown
Artist:
Possibly by Jeremiah Gurney (American, 1812–1895 Coxsackie, New York)
Date:
1850–52
Medium:
Daguerreotype
Dimensions:
Image: 13.3 x 18.3 cm (5 1/4 x 7 3/16 in.)
Classification:
Photographs
Credit Line:
Gilman Collection, Gift of The Howard Gilman Foundation, 2005
Accession Number:
2005.100.81
Not on view
This hand-colored full plate daguerreotype retains its original bright orange paper mat. Probably intended as an exhibition piece, the photograph shows two well-dressed men engaged in a game of checkers--the complex contest of skill today often regarded as child's play. At the beginning of the daguerreian era, however, checkers was considered an exceptional tool to train the mind, one that demanded acute concentration, previsualization, and intuition.
This photograph is a virtuoso example of daguerreotypy at the height of its practice in America. Like a game of checkers it demonstrates the importance of direct observation. A checkerboard is always positioned so that both players have a black square at their near left corner, yet in this study the black square appears to be in the opposite corner, at the near right. It is not the players who have inverted the rules, but the daguerreotype itself.
Inscription: [No inscriptions or annotations visible]
[Rinhart Galleries]; Gilman Paper Company Collection, New York, May 28, 1982

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," May 25, 1993–July 4, 1993.

Edinburgh International Festival, Edinburgh, Scotland. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," August 7, 1993–October 2, 1993.

National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C. "The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection," June 19, 1994–September 11, 1994.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Johnson Gallery, Selections from the Collection 33," September 23, 2002–February 23, 2003.

Apraxine, Pierre. Photographs from the Collection of the Gilman Paper Company. Reeds Springs, Mo.: White Oak Press, 1985. pl. 84.

Hambourg, Maria Morris, Pierre Apraxine, Malcolm Daniel, Virginia Heckert, and Jeff L. Rosenheim. The Waking Dream: Photography's First Century, Selections from the Gilman Paper Company Collection. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1993. p. 311.



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