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About this collection

The Stanley B. Burns, MD tintypes collection is an assemblage of unusually large, hand-colored tintypes in period frames from America. The collection consists almost entirely of portraits, many of which are of individuals, including paired sets of husbands and wives. Additionally there are family portraits, some of which are “composite” images where the photographer reproduced earlier portraits of individuals into one group portrait, a method often used to include deceased family members. There are also many portraits of children, including post-mortem photographs of infants. Portraits of African Americans and people in trade uniforms exemplify how photography helped democratize art, making it accessible to lower and working class citizens. Individually the items are unique works of art not only because of their tintype format—photographs made without a negative—but also because each is hand-painted. The collection provides a look at the art world in transition as photography began to replace painting as the standard for portraiture.

 

The frames in the collection are of equal importance as the photographs. They represent a wide variety of styles, from the plain to the elaborate, dating from 1840 to 1910, and reveal indicators of each subject's social status. Styles include Renaissance Revival, Federal Revival, Rococo Revival, Eastlake, Aesthetic, Tramp Art and Rustic.

 

 

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