Text: Michael J. Deas, “Unidentified Photograph,” The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (1989), p. 132 (This material is protected by copyright)


­[page 132:]

Unidentified Photograph

Spurious portrait of Edgar Allan Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 63)
Unidentified photograph
[Illustration on page 132]

This carte-de-visite photograph (fig. 63) is said to have once belonged to J. H. Whitty of Richmond. It was acquired at an undetermined date by Josiah K. Lilly, a collector of Poe memorabilia, who in 1956 donated it to its present owner, the J. K. Lilly Library of Indiana University. The picture was first reproduced in the Indiana University Bookman for March 1960, where it was incorrectly described as a “full length daguerreotype of Poe.” It was reprinted as the frontispiece to David A. Randall’s The J. K. Lilly Collection of Edgar Allan Poe: An Account of Its Formation (Bloomington: Lilly Library, 1964).

Although the unidentified gentleman in the photograph does bear a rather unsettling resemblance to Poe, particularly if compared to the “Ultima Thule” daguerreotype (fig. 14), the likeness can be readily dismissed as a Poe portrait for several technical reasons. The style of dress worn in the picture is distinctly later than that of Poe’s era — the small bow tie, Prussian shirt collar, and swallow-tailed coat were accouterments not introduced until the 1860s. Moreover, the picture itself is an albumen photograph, printed directly from a glass-plate negative; this particular photographic process was not invented until 1851 and was not widely used in the United States until at least 1854, fully five years after Poe’s death.






[S:1 - PDEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (M. J. Deas) (Unidentified Photograph)