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1871 Portrait of a Young Woman by Frank Pearsall, Brooklyn Photographer

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Victorian Era2004 of 2393RODGERS EP Sheffield salad fork and spoondozens and dozens of antique frames - many of them are museum quality
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    Posted 10 years ago

    (330 items)

    Over the years, I've been looking for 'go alongs' to accompany my rare and historically important 1883 wood & brass camera made by Frank Pearsall. Presented here is the latest acquisition to display with the camera; a stunningly beautiful pastel / crayon portrait of a young woman by the well known Brooklyn photographer.

    As background, Frank and Alva Pearsall were brothers operating competing photographic studios in Brooklyn from the early 1870s through the late 1890s. In the 1870s, galleries sold a variety of items other than photography. Having done extensive research on Frank Pearsall, I was aware of this type of portrait but never imagined actually finding an example given the fragility of works on paper.

    This portrait is the only example I've ever seen and believe it to be the actual image described in the following article [excerpt] that appeared in the September 14, 1871 Brooklyn Daily Eagle paper:

    "Visitors to the fair of the American Institute, in the department of Art Photography, will find an admirable display of imperial card photographs, porcelain and ivory miniatures, and colored crayons from the gallery of G.F.E Pearsall, of this city. Some of the miniatures are finely executed, and a life size portrait of a young and beautiful girl, finished in colored crayons, is very attractive for the spirit shown in the pose of the figure and its delicacy of outline. Mr. Pearsall is the only exhibitor in the fine art department from Brooklyn, with the exception of a Mr. Senior, who contributes two or three crayon heads."

    Frank's signature is shown in the third image.

    The Pearsall camera can be seen at:

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    1. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Great quality!

      These crayon portraits run the full range-- from quality/ almost oil portrait precision (YOURS) to child like blotch work tinting.

      What size is it?

    2. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Hi Scott ... the image is 15-1/4" x 22-1/4" in its original frame. Thanks for the note!
    3. scottvez scottvez, 10 years ago
      Thanks for sharing it!

    4. miKKoChristmas11 miKKoChristmas11, 10 years ago
      Fabulous image!!! Very fine work, indeed. I am so glad that you found this rare treasure. miKKo
    5. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks BELLIN, miKKo, Scott, and bratjdd!
    6. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks, eye4beauty for the love on this and my camera! It is a terrific story that's been in research for nearly 5 years: next step is to find time to write it up for my camera website.
    7. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks mustangtony and Kathycat!
    8. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks, musikchoo!
    9. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks, CollectiblesUnlimited and bratjdd!
    10. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks, vetraio50!
    11. rniederman rniederman, 10 years ago
      Thanks, walksoftly!
    12. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, aghcollect!
    13. rniederman rniederman, 8 years ago
      Thanks, nittygritty1962!
    14. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
      Thanks, aura!
    15. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
    16. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
      Thanks, Recordmantime!
    17. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
      Thanks, Celiene!
    18. rniederman rniederman, 6 years ago
      Thanks, Oroyoroyisthatyourhorse!
    19. randrox, 5 years ago
      I'm very impressed with the quality and scope of your collections, and was struck by this particular post and wondered what further research you were able to do on this story. I also was moved to put in my "two cents"! I'm curious whether you were able to verify that the image you show above is indeed the one mentioned in the 1871 article. I'm going to give my opinion that it is NOT the "portrait of a young and beautiful girl" and the reason why is that I believe that the above crayon portrait shows a widow! I base that on the fact that she's wearing black, and tellingly, also black jewelry and ornaments, which would be mourning jewelry at that time period. Please! Tell me if my guess is right or wrong! LOL! Your posts are fascinating, and I give you much respect for the depth and breadth of your collections and research.
    20. randrox, 5 years ago
      I should clarify that I was referring to her earrings being black, as well as her hair band, and although her necklace appears to be of metal, whether gold or brass or? I don't know, but it appears to be a locket and may even contain a piece of "hair" jewelry, or a memento made of pieces of the hair of the deceased loved one.
    21. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Hi randox. Interesting observation. As background, this is the only known Pearsall crayon drawing I am aware of; but when you think about it, others must have been made. Granted a less somber image would have probably been more appropriate for the exhibition. In regards to research, early photography ephemera is scarce snd I continue to look for more information. I'll look more closely at the jewelry in the image. If there is good detail I'll photograph and post at some point. Thanks for your opinion, input and compliment! - Rob
    22. randrox, 5 years ago
      Thanks for your prompt reply, Rob. As I said, my opinion was just based on guesswork, and it would be great if you were able to verify if this is, indeed, the image from the 1871 exhibition, but sounds like that's still unknown. I love stuff like this! My opinion was also based on my belief that it would be rather unusual for a young, unmarried woman to wear black, unless in mourning for a parent or sibling, and it would probably be noted in the description of the drawing in the exhibit of the "young, beautiful woman". Also, the article you quoted goes on to say that the portrait is "very attractive for the spirit shown in the pose" and this portrait seems to me to be a rather straightforward, conventional portrait pose. Just some more musings on this very interesting "mystery." As for examining the jewelry, I hope you don't mind that copied it to my photo-editing program on my laptop, solely for research purposes, and enlarged it about 300% onscreen. While, it appears her necklace is a locket of some kind, I am unable to say with certainty that it contains mourning jewelry, such as hair jewelry or a "memento mori" of some sort. It appears to be hung with a fob of some sort, similar to the one I'm wearing now, that was my aunts and contains a watch in a locket-type mounting and could be something like that or a locket with photos inside. I'd love it if you shared with us any further info you might come across in this matter, but I realize how extremely busy you must stay.
    23. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Hi randrox. Given your interest, I added a close up image of the necklace piece. It doesn't have a lot of detail given the abstract nature of the drawing, but it does look like a locket. Otherwise IMO, the article quote about the "spirit in the pose" fits well with the image. Lockets in early photographs (i.e. dags, ambrotypes, and tintypes) were quite common so it's difficult to know if it is mourning jewelry or simply something precious. We also must consider that 1870s cultural norms and values are much different than viewpoints we have today. Regardless, it's an interesting discussion.
    24. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    25. randrox, 5 years ago
      Very interesting, good closeup of the locket, and although I agree with you that it's hard to say what the details are, but think it is within possibility that it contains "hair jewelry" or memento. Keep us posted, please, if you are able to obtain any more information about this very interesting portrait!
    26. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    27. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
    28. PostCardCollector PostCardCollector, 5 years ago
      Her composure is so lovely!! It is such a remarkable piece of art.
    29. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago
      Thanks, Lois. Agreed about her composure. She has a stoic look IMO.
    30. rniederman rniederman, 5 years ago

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