Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Prints from Photographs, Part 2 of 2

During the Civil War there was at least one woodcut engraving of General Lee based on a drawing made in the field, rather than a photograph. In late 1862 or early 1863, Frank Vizetelly of the Illustrated London News sketched General Lee at his headquarters near Fredericksburg.

Engraving based on sketch by Frank Vizetelly for the
Illustrated London NewsFebruary 14, 1863.

It is quite possible (the author considers it likely) that Vizetelly’s drawing was made a few weeks before General Lee donned his dress uniform for the so-called “booted and spurred” photograph made by Daniel T. Cowell. General Lee was not known to have worn such formal military attire except on special occasions. A woodcut engraving derived from Minnis and Cowell’s “booted and spurred” photograph appeared on the front of Harper’s Weekly in July 1864. Oddly enough Lee’s middle name “Edward” was misspelled as “Edmund” in the caption of this illustration.

The Rebel General Robert Edmund Lee, Harper’s Weekly, July 2, 1864.
Examination of a well-known print of General Lee as a civilian shows him seated in a comfortable looking chair. It is obviously derived from the famous “clock” portrait made in early 1866 by Mathew Brady of Washington, D.C. For years, this sitting for Brady in Washington was deemed to have occurred in 1869. However, this print, published in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, firmly establishes that the photograph was made before March 24, 1866.

Engraving based on Mathew Brady’s clock portrait of 1866 in Frank Leslie’s Illustrated Newspaper, March 24, 1866.

These printed engravings are quite interesting when compared alongside their corresponding photographs. Those printed in dated periodical publications can help determine the time period when the original photograph was taken.

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