Subject is exactly photography
A single printed page from the “Transactions of the Michigan State Medical Society for the Year 1896” displays four images of fetal tissue in glass jars, each labelled in a small serifed font. These photographs appear in a medical article by William C. Stevens titled “Partial Abortion; Expulsion of the Amniotic Sack Alone; Three Specimens,” which demonstrates how late-century medical professionals used such specimens. Captions for each image describe the size of the specimens: specimen 1, at the top left-hand corner, is “½ natural size”; specimen 2, at the top right-hand corner, is “2/3 natural size”; specimen 3, at the bottom left-hand corner, is “½ natural size”; specimen 4, at the bottom right-hand corner, is “2/3 natural size.” The details of the specimens are unclear due to the grainy quality of the halftones (a type of mechanical reproduction that allowed photographs to be reproduced as prints).
In this black-and-white photograph, Dinah Craik embraces her sixteen-month-old adopted daughter, Dorothy. Craik stands beside her daughter, her left hand winding around her waist, while she bends to obscure her own face entirely behind Dorothy’s head. The photograph, which is housed in a private collection, is a portrait of Dorothy, whose gaze is directed at the viewer. Wearing mary jane-style shoes and a white-frilled dress that complements a similar white frill on her mother’s collar, Dorothy sits patiently with her arms relaxed at her sides. All that is visible of Craik herself are her hand, body, and ear, as well as her muted, conventional clothing and a dark band around her hair. Written across the bottom of the white and gold cardboard frame in blue ink are the words “Mrs. Craik l’auteur de John Halifax, Gentleman / mai 1869.”
This delicate, palm-sized portrait sits encased in a jeweled frame made of gold, bowenite, opal, diamonds, and star sapphires. The object was given to The Walters Art Museum in 1963 with a large collection of portrait miniatures. Unlike a traditional painted miniature, this piece is a black and white photograph—likely a carte-de-visite—overpainted in gouache. The first photograph of the object included in our gallery shows the front of the framed photograph. A three-quarter length portrait of a figure sits before a dark blue background, head turned slightly to the left, with her eyes downcast and her hands clasped. A light red shawl is draped around her shoulders and held in place with her hands, partially obscuring a brown striped dress. White accents draw our eyes to her sleeves and the frill at her neck, where a brooch is fastened. In the second image, the engraved inscription on the reverse of the frame, added in the early 20th century, asserts: This represents / Elizabeth Eleanor Siddal, / who on the 25th of May 1860 became the wife of / Dante Gabriel Rossetti. / In May 1861 she gave birth to a child, / and died on February 10th 1862, / having unhappily taken an overdose of Laudanum / in order to relieve a severe form of Neuralgia / by which she was afflicted. / This Portrait was painted by her husband / between December 1860 and May 1861, / and is the only portrait the artist painted / of his wife after her marriage. / He painted her portrait numberless times / before her marriage and made many sketches of her / but afterwards made one slight sketch in pencil / which has been lost / and painted this miniature.