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HomeContentsThemes > Hands

Contents

Introduction
869.01   Parts of the body: Hands
Helpings hands
869.02   The "helping hand" and the "hidden mother"
X-rays
869.03   X-rays of the hand
Photographers
869.04   Southworth and Hawes: The Branded Hand of Captain Jonathan Walker
869.05   Imogen Cunningham: Hands
869.06   Rena Small: Artist's Hands
This theme includes example sections and will be revised and added to as we proceed. Suggestions for additions, improvements and the correction of factual errors are always appreciated. 
  
Status: Collect > Document > Analyse > Improve
 
  
Introduction 
  
869.01   Portrait >  Parts of the body: Hands 
  
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   Portrait Parts Of Body Hands 
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Helpings hands 
  
869.02   Portrait >  The "helping hand" and the "hidden mother" 
  
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The restless or sleeping child in a photographic studio required support and on occasion that was provided by the accompanying adult. In most cases the adult can be seen as a part of the portrait but there are a great many nineteenth century images where the adult is concealed beneath a shawl or curtain. This means that only visible person in the portrait is the child but to contemporary eyes there is a creepy look to a badly concealed adult cradling a child. The feeling of unease is made worse when a seemingly disembodied adult hand and part of an arm rises from concealment to clutch at the child. Collectively these portraits are called "hidden mother" portraits though with many of them it is impossible to known who is under the cloth. [1]
 
At times it is said that this was necessary for the long exposures in nineteenth century photography but this was not always the case and may be more about pacifying a child and restraining it from falling from the chair. There were also special posing chairs for children[2] and additional parts suitable for children that could be added to adult posing chairs but not all studios would have had those.
 
A humorous cartoon published in Harper's Bazaar in 1888 catches the slightly ridiculous nature of this practice with a concealed figure holding a baby with the husband's shoes showing beneath the child on a card photograph:  
  
Harper's Bazaar: A Combination Picture (5 May 1888) 
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A Combination Picture
 
"Don't you think it would be better for my husband to hold her in his lap? She seems afraid to sit alone in a strange place."
 
The suggestion is found a good one, and the artist pronounces the sitting a success.
 
Startling result in the finished work.[3]
 
  
X-rays 
  
869.03   Portrait >  X-rays of the hand 
  
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  Scientific X rays 
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Portrait Parts Of Body Hands 
View exhibition 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
 
  
Photographers 
  
869.04   Portrait >  Southworth and Hawes: The Branded Hand of Captain Jonathan Walker 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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On 14 November 1844 shipwright, sea captain and abolitionist Captain Jonathan Walker (1799-1878) was arrested at Key West in Florida and branded on the hand at Pensacola for assisting slaves escape from the American South[4]:
After the expiration of the hour, I was taken back of the court-house, and water given me to wash with, and then conducted into court again, to receive the remainder of my sentence. When about to be branded, I was placed in the prisoner's box. The marshal, Ebenezer Dorr, formerly of Maine, proceeded to tie my hand to a part of the railing in front. I remarked that there was no need of tying it, for I would hold still. He observed that it was best to make sure, and tied it firmly to the post, in fair view; he then took from the fire the branding-iron, of a slight red heat, and applied it to the ball of my hand, and pressed it on firmly, for fifteen or twenty seconds. It made a spattering noise, like a handful of salt in the fire, as the skin seared and gave way to the hot iron. The pain was severe while the iron was on, and for some time afterwards. There appeared to be but few that wished to witness the scene; but my friend, George Willis, placed himself where he could have a fair view, and feasted his eyes upon it, apparently with great delight.[5]
In Boston Southworth & Hawes took a daguerreotype of the branded hand of Captain Walker in 1845 and it was reproduced on the cover and title page for the book Trial and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, At Pensacola, Florida, for Aiding Slaves To Escape From Bondage.[6] 
  
869.05   Portrait >  Imogen Cunningham: Hands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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869.06   Portrait >  Rena Small: Artist's Hands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
  
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    Small 
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Footnotes 
  
  1. Λ For "hidden mothers" - Laura Lee Shill, 2012, Hidden Mother Tintypes and the Performance of the Self, (University of Colorado); Linda Fregni Nagler, 2013, The Hidden Mother, (Mack) 
      
  2. Λ "Myron T. Baldwin, of La Grange, Illinois. Infant's Posing-Chair", U.S. Patent Office, Letter's Patent no. 321,076, dated June 30, 1885.; "George F. Goullee, of Wellsville, Missouri, assignor to himself and Thomas K. Shelby, of Wellsville, Missouri", .S. Patent Office, Letter's Patent no. 918,666, patented: April 20, 1909.
     
    These are only example patents and research will yield many more in different countries. 
      
  3. Λ "A Combination Picture", 5 May 1888, Harper's Bazaar, vol. XXI, no. 18, p. 300
     
    With thanks to Beverly and Jack Wilgus for bringing this to my attention. (Facebook, Victorian Images group, 5 April 2014) 
      
  4. Λ Jonathan Walker - National Parks Service
    (Accessed: 6 August 2013)
    www.nps.gov/resources/person.htm?id=119 
      
  5. Λ 1845, Trial and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, At Pensacola, Florida, for Aiding Slaves To Escape From Bondage, with an Appendix, containing a sketch of his life, (Boston: Published At The Anti-Slavery Office, 25 Cornhill), p. 40, 43 
      
  6. Λ 1845, Trial and Imprisonment of Jonathan Walker, At Pensacola, Florida, for Aiding Slaves To Escape From Bondage, with an Appendix, containing a sketch of his life, (Boston: Published At The Anti-Slavery Office, 25 Cornhill), bookcover, title page 
      

alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  

HomeContents > Further research

 
  
Readings on, or by, individual photographers 
  
Elliott Erwitt 
  
Erwitt, Elliott, 2002, Elliott Erwitt's Handbook, (Quantuck Lane Press) isbn-10: 0971454833 isbn-13: 978-0971454835 [Foreword by Charles Flowers] [Δ
  
Helmar Lerski 
  
Perez, Nissan N., 2011, Helmar Lerski: Working Hands, (The Israel Museum) isbn-10: 9652783862 isbn-13: 978-9652783868 [Δ
  
Gary Schneider 
  
Schneider, Gary, 2010, Handbook, (Aperture / Print on demand) [Δ
  
 
  
If you feel this list is missing a significant book or article please let me know - Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com 
  

HomeContentsPhotographers > Photographers worth investigating

 
Rena Small
HomeThemesPortraitParts of the body > Hands 
 
A wider gaze
 
  

HomeContentsOnline exhibitions > Hands

Please submit suggestions for Online Exhibitions that will enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
ThumbnailPortrait: Parts of body: Hands 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (April 11, 2008)
ThumbnailRena Small: Artist's Hands 
Title | Lightbox | Checklist
Released (July 10, 2008)
 
  

HomeVisual indexes > Hands

Please submit suggestions for Visual Indexes to enhance this theme.
Alan - alan@luminous-lint.com

 
  
   Photographer 
  
ThumbnailAndré Kertész: Paul Arma's Hands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailImogen Cunningham: Hands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailRena Small: Artist's Hands 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
ThumbnailSouthworth & Hawes: The Branded Hand of Captain Jonathan Walker 
About this photographer | Photographs by this photographer 
 
  
   Connections 
  
ThumbnailNadar - Southworth & Hawes 
 
 
  
   Themes 
  
ThumbnailPortrait: Parts of the body: Hands 
ThumbnailScientific: X-rays: Hands 
ThumbnailThe Hand of Madame Hugo 
 
 
  
   Still thinking about these... 
  
ThumbnailA Man Covering his Face with his Hand 
ThumbnailHands of former professional baseball player - Douglas Allison 
ThumbnailThe helping hand 
 
 
  
Refreshed: 09 July 2014, 00:43
 
  
 
  
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