Anonymous
Twin Sisters

Twin Sisters
Anonymous
Twin Sisters
Circa 1850
Daguerreotype
H. 21; W. 14.5 cm
© Musée d'Orsay, dist. RMN

Portrait de deux soeurs jumelles [Twin Sisters]


This full-plate daguerreotype is most unusual because of its size, its condition and its subject. The pose struck by the two young women, reminiscent of Théodore Chassériau's Two Sisters (in the Louvre), suggests a painting. Subtle colouring—their rosy cheeks, the inlay on the piano, the upholstery of the armchair—further accentuates the pictorial quality of the print, well served by a remarkable technique. Colouring daguerreotypes was a delicate task, often done by women, who added coloured pigments to the finished plate. Although this practice remedied the lack of colour reproduction in photography, it was nonetheless criticised for its often garish and artificial look. Here, the colours are subtle and enhance the subject without camouflaging it. The plate has been carefully polished to sharpen the blacks and whites of the girls' clothing and complexions.
Although it is still anonymous, this daguerreotype reveals the talent of an experienced photographer and breaks with the usual quality of the portraits made in this period. Great care has been taken over the pose and setting. The girls' matching clothes and their hair parted in the middle and looped back at the sides, a very fashionable style in the 1840s, accentuate their resemblance, while their clasped hands enhance the feeling of affectionate closeness between the two sisters.




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