Friday, June 24, 2011

The Tact of the Sitter

An image, to my mind, of extraordinary composure and dignity. This is a turn of the century carte de visite ('visiting card'), i.e., a small, beautifully produced studio portrait, about 2" by 3" in size. (Similar photographs in a larger format were called cabinet cards.)

One wonders how the subject came to be looking away from the camera. The fact that she does so results, I think, in the image's overall impression of tenderness and calm. The sitter seems unselfconscious, free of perturbation--as if she were looking toward someone on one side who loves her and protects her. She thereby helps the viewer--helps us--to look at her. She accepts our curiosity with mildness and grace.

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