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Southworth & Hawes
Miss Hodges of Salem
21.6 x 16.5 cm (8 1/2 x 6 1/2 ins)
Metropolitan Museum of Art
Gift of I. N. Phelps Stokes, Edward S. Hawes, Alice Mary Hawes, and Marion Augusta Hawes, 1937, Accession Number: 37.14.20
Curatorial description (Accessed: 27 April 2016)
This first photographic process, invented by Louis Daguerre (1798-1851), spread rapidly around the world after its public presentation in Paris in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silver plate is a one-of-a-kind photograph that, viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality. The Boston partnership of Southworth and Hawes produced the finest portrait daguerreotypes in America for a clientele that included leading political, intellectual, and artistic figures. Nothing is known today about Miss Hodges, but Southworth and Hawes made two costly whole-plate portraits of her for their studio collection, suggesting that she was sufficiently well known – or sufficiently photogenic – to warrant displaying her likeness in the front-room public gallery.