Albert Sands Southworth (American, 1811–1894); Josiah Johnson Hawes (American, 1808–1901)
8 1/2 x 6 1/2 in. (21.6 x 16.5 cm)
Gift of Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes, 1938 (38.34)
This portrait of Lemuel Shaw (17811861) is the result of the kind of happy accident that is the special province of photography. When Chief Justice Shaw arrived at the 5 1/2 Tremont Row studio to have his portrait made by the Boston partnership of Southworth & Hawes, he happened to stand directly under a skylight that illuminated his imposing figure like the sun passing over a mountain. The photographers quickly moved their equipment to him, and the resulting image perfectly captured the man who embodied, in the words of the Boston Transcript, "the absolute power of a crag vitalized by a human spirit." Shaw's imposing presence, sculpted by intense sunlight and gifted artistic vision, is a startling departure from the conventional posed portrait, customarily set in a studio and lit indirectly.