Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Emily Dickinson Portraits

Emily Dickinson, 16 years old, 1846-47 (Amherst College Archives)

There’s only one officially authenticated photograph of reclusive poet Emily Dickinson, who posthumously came to be considered one of America's major poets. It’s a daguerreotype taken in 1847 when she was 16 years old.

Daguerreotype taken around 1859 (Amherst College Archives)

This daguerreotype showing two women belongs to a collector who bought it in a group of items from a Springfield junk dealer in 1995. After years of study, he was able to confirm (thanks to two moles on her chin under either side of her mouth) that the sitter on the right was Mrs. Kate Scott Turner Anthon, a school friend of Sue Gilbert Dickinson, wife of Emily’s brother Austin. Austin and Sue lived in the house next door to Emily, and Kate stayed with them several times starting in January of 1859. She struck up a close friendship with Emily, as their extant correspondence attests to, until they had a falling out about a year later (www.thehistoryblog.com).

 Albumen photo (collection of Philip F. Gura)

This albumen photo was acquired by Philip F. Gura on Ebay in 2000. Recent assessment of the image suggests that it may be a cabinet-card-sized paper copy of a daguerreotype showing Emily Dickinson in the mid-1850s (www.common-place.org).

next episode: fading


  1. Fascinating finds and determined research.

  2. I don't think I've ever seen a picture of Emily Dickinson before. These are interesting images.

  3. I like the photograph of her at age 16. I searched on-line for her poetry and found the complete poems > http://www.bartleby.com/113/ < if anyone is interested.

  4. The image of the woman on the left in the second daguerreotype, with the two women, does have facial resemblance to the confirmed photo of Emily Dickinson. What a find, coming from a "junk dealer." I don't think I'd seen it before, or the third one.


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