Lot 48
  • 48

Anonymous American Photographer

15,000 - 25,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Anonymous American Photographer
  • Physician with His Operative Kit
  • 1/4 plate daguerreotype
quarter-plate daguerreotype, sealed, cased, with inscriptions and date in a contemporary hand in pencil inside the rear cover, 1840s


Stanley B. Burns, Mirror Mirror: The Burns Collection Daguerreotypes (New York: The Burns Archive Press, 2012), pl. 113

Stanley B. Burns, A Morning's Work: Medical Photographs from The Burns Archive & Collection, 1843-1939 (Santa Fe, 1998), pl. 1

Catalogue Note

The laterally-reversed lettering on the spine of the book in this daguerreotype advertises ‘Hooper’s Dictionary.’  The Roll of the Royal College of Physicians of London, commonly known as Munk’s Roll, lists Dr. Robert Hooper (1773-1835) as ‘a man of immense industry, a sound practical physician, and a good writer’ (Volume III, p. 29).  He authored no fewer than 12 books on medical subjects, including A Compendious Medical Dictionary, containing an Explanation of the Terms in Anatomy, Physiology, Surgery, Materia Medica, Chemistry, and Practice of Physic.  Hooper’s medical dictionary was widely published throughout the 19th century and it was a valuable portable resource for physicians of varying specialty. 

This exquisitely-rendered portrait of a physician with his operative instruments exhibits a remarkable level of detail.  The sitter’s piercing gaze, the folds of his elegant three-piece suit, and glint of light on his satin necktie all appear with exceptional clarity. Remarkable care has been taken in arranging this tableau.  The sitter rests his arm on medical dictionaries, his hand pointing down to the tools of his trade.  Before the era of the hospital operating theatre, doctors carried their own instruments from patient to patient, and in the present operative roll kit we see forceps, curved scissors, curette, blades, and probe.