James Ross
English, 1745-1821
John Thomson
Scottish, c.1808-1881

A Happy Dream, 1862-1863
Albumen print
Purchase, Horace W. Goldsmith Foundation Fund
Period: 18th c
Classification: Photograph
Dimensions: Image: 7 7/8 x 6 in. (20 x 15.24 cm) Mount: 12 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (32.39 x 26.67 cm) Sheet: 12 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (32.39 x 26.67 cm)
Signatures, Inscriptions and Markings v
Inscribed (recto, on mount at bottom center, in pencil): A Happy Dream; (verso, at LLC, in pencil): 300437.0527; (ULC, in pencil): JT082
Exhibition History v
Poughkeepsie, New York, FLLAC, Vassar College, "Histories of Photography," July 5 - September 21, 2003
Description v
In the mid-nineteenth century, British art photographers imitated the work of academic painters through several methods: props, stock poses, painted backdrops, multiple exposures, and the manual reworking of both negative and print. All of these techniques are represented in this striking collabor- ative image. Early Edinburgh partners Ross and Thomson produced both daguerreotypes and calotypes (salted-paper prints from paper negatives), and were experimenting with albumen-based emulsions as early as 1849. James Ross operated a painting studio and might have painted the backdrop seen here, which, in a somewhat altered state, appears in genre-scene photo- graphs sold under his name in 1863. This fine example of allegorical staging and combination printing was shown at the 1863 exposition of the London Photographic Society.
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