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Johann Eberhard Feilner (1802-1869)
Golden wedding anniversary of the Magnus family, Bremen
Daguerreotype, 1/2 plate
Bassenge Photography Auctions
Photography, 6 June 2018, Lot: 4034
Johann Eberhard Feilner was a lithographer in Cologne until he followed his brother Franz to Bremen who had a printing press there since 1825. Here he married and established himself as of 1832 as a portrait painter and drawing teacher. As of 1844 he founded a studio for daguerreotypes in 1844 and in 1845 already advertised exceptionally large daguerreotypes.
For almost two decades Feilner remained the most renowned photographer of the region who was also the first to establish himself permanently in Bremen. After his death in 1869 his son Jean Baptiste Feilner continued the business, establishing branches in Braunschweig, Emden, Oldenburg, Borkum, Bonn, Koblenz, Hannover and Vienna. The Bremen studio continued until 1894.
The present two daguerreotypes, which actually comprise a diptych, are one of three known identical group portraits two of which are in the National Museum of Photography, Denmark and the Museum Ludwig, Cologne. The occasion of this group portrait is typed on a label on the verso of the daguerreotypes in the Museum Ludwig and in Denmark. It shows the Golden wedding anniversary of the Magnus family of Bremen (circa 1845). The entire family is most likely depicted on the two half-plates. Such a large format daguerreotype showing so many individuals is very rare for images made in German speaking countries at this time. The three known diptychs mentioned above all show the identical image from the same sitting. However, the Cologne daguerreotype is a reverse image of the two offered here as well as the diptych in Denmark. Such reversed images are not uncommon of larger group portraits. With some skill, good lighting and using a mirror it was quite easy to reproduce a daguerreotype. Thanks to this procedure, the photographer was able to eliminate two disadvantages of the daguerreotype. He created a correct image (not inverted as an original daguerreotype was) and a copy for other interested clients, which only became possible just a short time later with the positive-negative process developed by Talbot or Scott Archer.
Lit.: Rainer Wick (ed.) Die Pioniere der Photographie. 1840 - 1900. Die Sammlung Robert Lebeck. Erlangen 1989, ill. p. 33 (original daguerreotypes mounted as a panoramic view).