This is a call to arms.  And to eyes and eyebrows and chin dimples and a certain curve of lip.

The Archives and Special Collections has known for several years about the “new” daguerreotype proposed and hoped to show Emily Dickinson and Kate Scott Turner Anthon, and yet we still go back and forth about it.  Like other people, we can feel one way on Monday and another on Tuesday, Wednesday, and so on.  If only we knew for certain who’s in that photograph…

In reviewing the available evidence, we noticed that most of the static images online are too small to facilitate comparisons.  In order to address this problem, we dismembered a few high-resolution images so that people can see more detail in a given photograph and then compare one part of a photograph to the corresponding part in another photograph.  We can’t put all the body parts in a single blog post, but we’ll make a start.  The point of this exercise is not to tell anyone what to think, but to provide more tools for discussion of the “new” daguerreotype.  When clicked on, all images will expand to full size.

Let’s begin with freckles.  As we know from Dickinson herself, she was a redhead (think “bold, like the chestnut burr”) with freckles.

“I can think how you look – You cant think how I look – I’ve got more freckles, since you saw me – playing with the schoolboys – then I pare the ‘Juneating’ to make the pie – and get my fingers ‘tanned.'” Letter to Mary Bowles, c. August, 1861 (Johnson Letter 253, ED A669)

The scan below is very high resolution, but it’s still a greatly enlarged version of an original measuring only 2.75″ x 3.25″.  Depending somewhat on screen quality and settings, you should see what appear to be freckles splashed across the face, especially on the left side of the nose and across the cheek.  (The small brown spots that look more superficial are specks on the glass or the daguerreotype plate.)

Here’s the same section (in a much lower resolution) from the c. 1847 daguerreotype.

Consider the “Dickinson dimple.”

                Sampling Kate Scott Turner Anthon, c. 1851; c. 1859; 1891

               We have two decent (though grainy) photographs of Kate with good provenance, an early one from about 1851, when she would have been twenty-one and another from 1891, when she was sixty.  The third photograph — a carte de visite at the New York State Historical Association — has reasonable provenance, but it has not been scanned well enough to be helpful except in the most basic way. Here are sections from the early and late images, with the “1859” Kate figure sandwiched between them.

A forum for discussion of both daguerreotypes, “new” and old,  may be found at the Dickinson Electronic Archives.

6 thoughts on “Body Parts

  1. I agree with you, Mr. Marlowe, on both counts. These ladies are not Emily Dickinson and Kate Anthon. The body type and body/face structures of the woman resembling Emily Dickinson are nothing like Dickinson’s word picture of herself or an older and more filled-out version of the teenage Dickinson.. The supposed Kate Anthon bears little resemblance, in my eyes, to the known photos of Anthon. The case for Gura’s daguerrotype copy needs closer examination! That diminuitive woman, I think, is Dickinson 10 to 15 years older, with the body weight of a healthy woman of 25-30, wearing an entirely different neckline, and possessing self-knowledge and self-confidence the 15-17 year old did not have, AND the ‘Emily’ in Gura’s photo wanted her photo taken. The teenager did not.

  2. If the woman on our right is Kate Turner, then the woman on our left is Sue Dickinson. Compare the woman on our left with the two known photos of Sue from the latter 1850s. Everything matches.

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