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After reading Kenneth Silverman's excellent biography of Edgar Allan Poe, which included detailed analyses of some of the daguerreotypes of Poe, I became interested in learning more about the portraits and photographs of the legendary writer. How many daguerreotypes were taken of Poe? How many portraits and etchings were done for which Poe actually sat? Is there a definitive image? Michael J. Deas put together a study on just that subject. This well-illustrated work offers photos and analyses of all the known lifetime portraits, daguerreotypes, woodcuts, watercolors, and etchings of Poe as well as many of the posthumous images, fakes, copies, and information on lost portraits. It was exactly what I was looking for.
Deas includes impressive amounts of detail when describing each image. The histories of the images are covered as thoroughly as possible, including backgrounds on the daguerreotypists and artists who created them. The circumstances behind the daguerreotypes and portraits and the reactions to them from Poe, those who knew Poe, or Poe experts are recorded. Unfortunately, no definitive image seems to exist as faults were found in all of them, including the daguerreotypes. The publications where the images were used, reproductions, who owned them, and where they are now if known are included. A brief history of daguerreotypes reveals that, daguerreotypes done during Poe's time were reversed, so the resulting photo was a mirror image that had to be re-photographed to correct the reversal. Deas adds an asterisk to the images that are reversed. He also notes the dimensions of the originals.Read more ›
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