Louis–Rémy Robert (French, 18101882)
Waxed–paper negative; 7 1/2 x 9 5/8 in. (19 x 24.5 cm)
Purchase, Hite Foundation Gift, 2000 (2000.235)
This paper negative, from the collection of Robert's descendants, shows Jacques-Joseph Ebelmen, director of the Sèvres porcelain factory, on his deathbed March 31, 1852. From its inception, photography was enlisted to record the faces of the deceasedit was, in effect, a new type of death mask. As the antipode to proper representation of the living world, the negative is particularly appropriate for a depiction of death. In it, Ebelmen's headwith pallid skin and white hairrests on black pillows, and the slight solarization of the negative suggests a spiritual aura.