Outdoor daguerreotypes of any size in the vertical format are unusual. The verticality of the present image emphasizes the heft of the boulder and dramatizes the height from which the boy and his dog are seen. The excellent quality of the exposure is also remarkable, and the photographer took full advantage of the natural light bathing his sitter and peeking through the foliage in the background. Surprisingly modern in conception and execution, this 19th century daguerreian snapshot could just as easily have been captured in the 21st century.
The brass mat stamped with credit and ‘589 Broadway’ suggests not only the authorship of this plate but also that it was made within New York City. Rufus Anson (B. 1822, active circa 1851-1866) was in business by July 1851 at 633 Broadway and had moved to 589 Broadway by 1853. According to Craig’s Daguerreian Registry, Anson remained at his Broadway location making daguerreotypes for over a decade and was noted for employing 15 camera operators by 1860 (Vol. 2, p. 15). He is not known to have practiced outside of New York City and thus the present unidentified verdant setting is likely one of the city’s parks that was created in the first part of the 19th century.
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