TINTYPE OF RIFLE ARMED UNION SOLDIER WITH BOTH A PAINTED AND A REAL FLAG

$650.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1053-43B

This is an interesting quarter plate tintype giving an insight into the photographer’s craft. The soldier is posed full-standing at parade rest with his bayonet fixed on his rifle musket. His bayonet scabbard is visible, as his cartridge box sling. His buttons, shoulder belt plate and the insignia on the front of his forage cap have been gilded. The photographer has posed him in front of a painted backdrop showing a fence, trees, and the large Sibley tents of an army encampment behind him. Directly over his shoulder a United States flag flies atop a prominent tent that has its entrance facing the camera. Interestingly, the edge of the painted canvas backdrop shows plainly on the viewer’s right. The photographer probably figured a brass mat would mask it, and traces from the lower border of the mat, which has been removed, can be seen at lower right.

Apparently a member of the “too much is not enough” school of photography, the photographer has also draped a real flag over the top of the painted backdrop, which would effectively destroy the illusion of the backdrop even if the edge of the painting were concealed. It is worth noting that the real flag is similar to the one painted on the backdrop, with stars in the canton arranged in a circle and others in the corners and in its center.

The tintype comes in half case with glass and frame that has been mounted in a wood base for display. In addition to the gilding, the photographer has lightly tinted the soldier’s light blue pants, added some green to a tree and a muted red to the stripes of both flags. Details of the image are not reversed, indicating the photographer used a mirror to counter it or more likely shot additional copies from the first pose. In either case, it passed directly through his hands because of the tinted colors and gold highlighted buttons and plate. The cap insignia is indistinct but the gilding looks like the photographer intended the crossed cannons of a heavy artilleryman, who were usually drilled in infantry tactics and suffered heavy losses when called into the field as infantry by Grant in 1864.  [sr]

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