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Untitled (Charles Coit)

A work made of daguerreotype.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of daguerreotype.

Date:

c. 1855

Artist:

attributed to S. L. Holman
American, 19th century

About this artwork

Daguerreotypes—brilliant photographs on metal plates—memorialized families with the first widely affordable images. The technology was especially popular in the 1840s and 1850s, an era of higher mortality rates. Daguerreotypists employed the slogan “Secure the shadow, ere the substance fade” to encourage sitters to visit the photographer’s studio before it was too late. This is one of a rare group of five images that tracks a single family over several years, including a period of mourning. Most of the images focus of the family’s patriarch, Charles Coit, including a photographic portrait, a painted portrait based on that photograph, a daguerreotype copy of that painting, and finally, a daguerreotype of the entire family posing with the painting—as a substitute for the father in a group portrait—made after his untimely death. These family photographs thus invite meditation on mortality and the function of representation. Can a painting stand in for a person? Can a photograph?

Here, we see a portrait of Charles Coit, the family’s patriarch, who served in the War of 1812 and later continued his military service, attaining the rank of colonel. This daguerreotype, made before his death in 1855, became the basis for a painted oil portrait pictured in 2019.458 and 2019.454.

On View

Photography, Gallery 10

Title

Untitled (Charles Coit)

Origin

United States

Date

Made 1850–1860

Medium

Daguerreotype

Dimensions

8.3 × 7.1 cm (3 1/4 × 2 3/4 in., plate); 9.3 × 16.2 × 1 cm (open case); 9.3 × 8.1 × 1.8 cm (case)

Credit Line

The W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg Collection, restricted gift of The Phillip Leonian and Edith Rosenbaum Leonian Charitable Trust

Reference Number

2019.457

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.

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