SIXTH PLATE AMBROTYPE OF TWO YOUNG DOCTORS IN THE OFFICE

$3,500.00 SOLD

Quantity Available: None

Item Code: 1138-1891

This very unusual and striking six-plate ambrotype dates about 1855-1860 and shows two young doctors posed seated, perhaps in celebration of recent graduation from a medical school or formation of a partnership. Both are fashionably attired in with coats, vests, and large bowties of mixed fabric patterns. The fellow on the left wears a mustache and shows off a watchchain and wide ring on his little finger. More noticeable is the skull on which he rests his closed hand, holding it across his leg in profile for the camera. He rests his other hand on the far shoulder of his compatriot, who has a full chin beard and wears a lighter colored coat, a narrower, multicolor tie, and has left his vest fashionably open on the bosom revealing a large round button on a white shirt. In counterpoint to the skull presented on the left, he holds a book up for the camera. The gilt title on the binding is a bit out of focus, but it is certainly a medical treatise meant to assure the viewer they know what they are doing.

The background is just as interesting. At left is an open bookcase filled with similar text books. At right, hanging below a wall shelf is a human skeleton. We are obviously meant to envision these two as seated in their office. The bookcase seems to be part of a skillfully painted backdrop, but the skeleton seems actually to be hanging from the corner of the shelf, and the fellow on the left has brought a real skull to the studio.

The clarity of the image is outstanding. The cheeks of both men have been lightly tinted, but the photographer has otherwise left the image alone. He was a talented photographer and if we are right about the bookshelf being part of a standard backdrop he could offer to sitters wishing to appear educated, it would likely appear elsewhere.

The image is housed in a thermoplastic case with geometric and floral motifs, made to house two images, but the left section is empty, housing only a gilt embossed frame. The lower left corner of the case has a break, which has loosened the hinge. [sr] [ph:m]

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