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  The research archive of Gary W. Ewer regarding the history of the daguerreotype

A year ago, I posted one of these four texts. I now have all four of the related texts, and present them here together for the sake of continuity. - - - - - - - - - - From the Tuesday, 14 December 1852 "Daily Evening Transcript: (Boston) pg. 2: A PORTRAIT OF DANIEL WEBSTER. Of the fifty or more engraved portraits of Mr. Webster, there is no one among them all that we can pronounce really good. All have defects of some sort. We want an engraving of the great farmer, legislator, statesman, and patriot, as a companion print to Stuart's Washington, in the same style of art, to hang beside it in the library or drawing-room--for Washington and Webster will go down the stream of time inseparable, and together, in the warm love and affection of the American people. It should be taken from the best and most truthful portraiture of the great man as he was in his palmiest days. If Mr. Ames's is the best, in the opinion of competent judges, let that be copied; or if the lineaments are more faithfully given in King's breathing marble, let that be the standard. We want an eight or ten dollar engraving, with proof impressions at a higher cost, on the purest steel, to transmit to future ages, as a sample of the engraver's art of the nineteenth century. Is there not some eminent and patriotic citizen, who can command the best talent in the country, who would be willing to undertake the work? It would command all praise, and one sure of a liberal response from the good and the patriotic of the whole nation. Mr. Webster's fame now stands higher in the affections of the people, than on the day of his death, or at the most brilliant period of his life; and his memory has more friends at the setting of each day's sun than at its rising. Will the press favor the enterprise? We answer, unhesitatingly, yes. * * * * * * * * * Albert S. Southworth, signing his letter simply as "s." responds to the above appeal in the Thursday, 16 December 1852 "Daily Evening Transcript: (Boston) pg. 1: WELCH'S ENGRAVING OF WASHINGTON. Mr. Editor: Some remarks in Tuesday's Transcript, on a proposed new engraved likeness of Daniel Webster, induce me to state a few facts for the information of all who may be willing to award credit where and to whom it belongs. About a year since Messrs. Southworth & Hawes furnished Mr. Welch with three Daguerreotypes of Stuart's Washington; and also with the use of their new apparatus for enlarging and tracing upon transparent paper, a copy the exact size of his intended picture. This is believed to be the only use which he made of the original painting, and he could neither have needed or desired more, for the Daguerreotypes were pronounced by both the president and librarian of the Boston Athenaeum equal to the original, or in their exact language, one of them said "he liked them better," the other "he liked them as well," and the venerable artist, Mr. Sully of Philadelphia, said "he never saw their equal." It would have been an act of justice, had the publishers of that engraving had appropriately recorded upon it some testimonial to Messrs. Southworth & Hawes, for services which they could not otherwise have procured, for facilities of their own invention, which could not have been elsewhere furnished, and which were earnestly and cheerfully bestowed without money or price. s. * * * * * * * * * A reponse by "Justice" appeared on Monday, 20 December 1852, pg. 1: WELCH'S ENGRAVING OF STUART'S WASHINGTON. Mr. Editor: Your correspondent in Thursday's Transcript, in reference to Welch's engraved copy of Stuart's Washington, says: About a year since Mr. Welch was furnished with three daguerreotypes of Stuart's Washington, and also with the use of an apparatus for tracing upon paper the size of his intended picture, and that is believed to be the only use he made of the original painting. Whether Mr. Welch could,--as our most eminent artists and scholars say he has done,--have presented in his engraved portrait, the dignity, nobleness, serenity, and the whole individuality of the original, without having copied or studied it, is a question unanswered,--but whether he did or not, the following letter from Charles Folsom, Esq., the well-known Librarian of the Boston Athenaeum, speaks for itself: BOSTON ATHENAEUM, July 14, 1852 Dear Sir: Accept my best thanks for your very acceptable present of a copy of the engraving of Stuart's Washington. I have forborne to express my opinion of it, till I had lived with it for some little time. As I was cognizant of Mr. Welch's diligence and solicitude to do justice to the original when he was here two or three years ago, and felt a strong interest in his success, I now take great pleasure in saying that, on studying his work and comparing it with the portrait in the Athenaeum Gallery, I am more and more struck with its fidelity, and do not hesitate to say that I think it the best copy which has yet been engraved, and that I would rather own it than any painted copy I have ever seen. I have exposed it in the Library, where it has been seen by many competent judges, and I have heard but one opinion expressed concerning it, and that as favorable as you could desire. Respectfully yours. Geo. W. Childs. CHARLES FOLSOM. Thus you will see, instead of engraving his Portrait entirely from "a Daguerreotype taken about a year ago"--that about three years ago he was at the Boston Athenaeum with the original, and I regret to say that in his endeavors to give to the world a faithful Portrait of Washington, he has nearly lost the use of one of his eyes. JUSTICE. * * * * * * * * * Of course, Southworth didn't let this challenge go without response, and so wrote the following letter which appeared in the Thursday, 23 December 1852 "Daily Evening Transcript" (Boston) pg. 1: WELCH'S ENGRAVING OF WASHINGTON. Mr. Editor: In last Thursday's Transcript it was my object to make known what the publisher had omitted, viz: that Mr. Welch engraved from daguerreotypes by Messrs. Southworth & Hawes. I should have added that Mr. Welch came to Boston one year ago today, Dec. 21st, having previously neither commenced his picture, nor seen the portrait. Mr. Welch was diligent to obtain all that could aid him to produce an exact copy, and when he saw the daguerreotypes knew that he neither could need or desire more. He, of course, at the time studied the original and compared the copies with it, and then returned to Philadelphia, and engraved his picture. Mr. Welch has shown greater powers as an artist in engraving this picture, from daguerreotypes, in four or five months, than though he had spent three years in doing the same thing with the portrait before him. I trust this statement, when taken with the one I made under the signature of S., together with the most unqualified declaration of my confidence in Mr. Welch, as a perfect gentleman and an accomplished artist, will, at least, not be objected to by his friends or by "Justice." I should not have replied to the article signed "Justice," in Monday's Transcript, had not the writer made use of Mr. Folsom's name and letter, which "if he has copied correctly" only shows an unintentional mistake of Mr. Folsom's, evidently an indefinite expression, and not designed to establish dates. When facts are required as to the time, the words "two or three years" must be changed so as to read nearly eight months. I will only add that one motive for noticing this engraving was to make known to the public the value of daguerreotypes, and the aid daguerreotypists may afford engravers in their sphere of the fine arts. I shall make no reply to anything further upon this subject, not endorsed with the writer's signature, and hold myself accountable for the article signed S. in last Thursday's Transcript, as also for the preceding communication. ALBERT S. SOUTHWORTH. Artists' Daguerreotype Room, 5 1/2 Tremont Row, Boston. (With thanks to Mr. Chris Steele of Boston, for the above texts. Mr. Steele is responsible for many of the Boston-area texts I have used in past DagNews messages.) -------------------------------------------------------------- 12-23-97

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