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3rd Great Grandparents

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Recent activity147216 of 180517Ecuador oil painting by Hector Gustavo Moncayo Merino  Vercingetorix
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Posted 6 years ago


(82 items)

My maternal Great-Great-Great Grandparents, Captain Levi B. Quillen (born 1/15/1813 - died 10/29/1900) and Hetty Ann Richardson Quillen (born about 1820 - died about 1905).

This appears to be a sketch (thought it was a photograph at first) and is in need of restoration. It's unframed and measures 20" x 16". It had been stored in the back of my mother's closet and was passed on to me last weekend.


  1. VikingFan82 VikingFan82, 6 years ago
    My family has one very similar to this of a female relative, and I know another one existed of another relative, and was created for his funeral. Both of them were sketches of photographs. I think back when these were created, drawings/paintings were still the preferred medium for portraits, so even though there were photograph originals, these were more treasured.
  2. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    Your photograph is called a "crayon portrait" and was the process of copying and enlarging photographs (sometimes older images).

    During the copying and enlarging process some of the details were lost-- which was then enhanced by the photo studio.

    The process was very popular from about the middle of the 1860s to the 1890s.

    You will see the process mentioned in period advertisements from photographers on the backs of Carte de Visites (CDV) and Cabinet Cards.

    The original photograph used for this particular image was probably contemporary to the enlargement and most likely dates from the 1870s- 1880s.

  3. scottvez scottvez, 6 years ago
    The process was also referred to as "pastel portraits" during the era and TODAY many collectors call them "charcoal portraits".

  4. SMD SMD, 6 years ago
    VikingFan82, and scottvez: Thank you for that information.

    It could perhaps be from the mid-1860's but I don't think any later than that. I have photocopies of pictures of them from the late 1870's or early 1880's and they are much, much older looking in those pictures. I am guessing she is in her mid to late 40's in this image so that fits the 1860's (born about 1820).
  5. SMD SMD, 6 years ago
    I found this information online, thanks to the help in identifying it as a Crayon Portrait:
    "Crayon portrait" is an umbrella term for an art approach that encompasses both free hand, and photographic renderings. Photographic crayon portraits, are large format, most around 16 x 20 inches, with a vignetted or sometimes domed oval format to the artwork. They were often originally framed in a large guilded, or ornately decorated frame. They were the commercial portrait offspring of the first attempts at photographic enlarging through the Woodward Solar Enlarging Camera, patented by Woodward in 1857. The weakly printed solar enlargement required the crayon portrait artist's touch up work in order to strengthen the image. The combining of crayon and photograph gave birth to a new commercial portrait aesthetics in both photography and portraiture that enjoyed great success from roughly 1860 through about 1905, and in some isolated areas until the Great Depresion. These were the first "life-sized" photographic images that were available for portraiture. Artists used bromide, silver, and platinum prints as the photographic base. An out of print book (1882) by J. A. Barhydt describes the process of making the portraits, "Crayon Portraiture: Complete Instructions for Making Crayon Portraits on Crayon Paper and on Platinum, Silver, and Bromide Enlargements." Now and then a copy shows up on ebay for around twenty bucks or so. Unfortunately, the genre is not highly valued as a topic to historians of photography, as evidenced in most texts on the subject.

    Concerning the dating of one of the artifacts . . . the enlargements were made from an earlier daguerreotype, ambrotype, tintype or late, any variety of the smaller prints made from glass plates. As a result, dating the image can be tricky and may require research. A daguerreotype made in 1847, for instance, might not have been enlarged until 1867. While clothing styles may have been updated on a few images, this is rare by my experience, and I have examined thousands of crayons as a photographic materials conservator who specializes in them. If there is a question regarding the date of the artifact, seek a conservator's examination--or date the artifact as closely as possible to a decade using circa; c1865, c1875, etc. To assist the dating of artifacts, there are books available showing clothing styles of the 19th century and how fashion changed from decade to decade. Attempt to date both the original and the enlargement if possible.

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