The present photograph—showing Darwin seated half-length, with his hands clasped—was taken in 1871, while Darwin was working on The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872) with Oscar Gustave Rejlander. Rejlander produced nineteen of the thirty photographs that featured throughout the text, posing in many of them himself. It was this collaboration that cemented Rejlander's place in the history of psychiatry and behavioural science.
Darwin was a photography enthusiast, and sat for many portraits over the course of his life. It was around 1869, however, that he began to grow weary of photographic studios soliciting him. Perhaps ironically it was also at this point that he began what would be his only his only large-scale photographic experiment. The theme of expression had long held interest for Darwin—indeed, he first started paying particular attention to the physical display of emotion through observing how his own children reacted to various stimuli. Over the course of several years, Darwin pursued and developed this preoccupation, employing his vast network of correspondents as he asked friends and colleagues to send images and descriptions of the representation of emotions. One of his correspondents was Oscar Rejlander, who, at the time, was already well-known in London. Over the course of their collaboration, Rejlander made some portraits of Darwin. Darwin then deemed these “The best photographs of me”.
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