Oscar Gustav Rejlander (British, born Sweden, 1813–1875)
Albumen silver print from glass negative
Image: 13.9 x 19.9 cm
Frame: 14 x 17 in.
Courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film, Rochester
Not on view
Titled Hard Times, after Charles Dickens’s novel of 1854, this composite photograph shows an unemployed carpenter sitting hunched with worry in a cramped bedroom while his wife and child sleep peacefully behind him. In this print, which Rejlander labeled “A Spiritistical Photo,” he superimposed a second, ghostly image of the man placing his hand on his wife’s head in benediction as the child prays at their feet—an intervention that elevated an otherwise realistic scenario into the moral and religious domain of high art.