Text: Michael J. Deas, “Frederich Bruckmann,” The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (1989), pp. 96-98 (This material is protected by copyright)


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­[page 97:]

Portrait by Friedrich Bruckmann

This heavily altered derivative of the “Whitman” daguerreotype was printed in 1876 by the London photographer Friedrich Bruckmann (1814-1898). The exact genesis of the Bruckmann image is unclear, although the photographer is known to have obtained photographic copies of the “Whitman” image (fig. 17) from Poe’s English biographer, John Henry Ingram.(71) What Bruckmann then did with these copies is difficult to establish — his completed portrait (fig. 44) appears to be based on either a drawing, presumably in charcoal, or a heavily retouched negative copied from the photographs supplied by Ingram. Bruckmann’s portrait was distributed in two formats: one was “two-thirds the size of life,” while the other, reproduced here, was considerably smaller.

Portrait of Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 44)
Portrait by Friederich Bruckmann
 
[Illustration on page 96]

Ingram was enthusiastic about Bruckmann’s finished work and was confident the portrait would be well received by the public. In September 1876 he wrote Sarah Helen Whitman that the likeness was “an ideal portrait . . . [but] doubtless a good one. It will be published & known all over the globe.”(72) Four months later the portrait was formally reviewed by a critic for the London Academy who was somewhat bewildered by the method used to create the likeness:

Mr. F. Bruchmann, of 17 Southhampton Street, has published aMemorial Portraitof Edgar Poe. It is a well-taken sightly photograph, head and shoulders, of about two-thirds the size of life; and ought to find ready welcome from the numerous admirers of this extraordinary genius and poet. Either the photograph must have been executed by direct transfer from a work of art, or else the negative has been so severely stippled up as to approach the character of brushwork. Whether the presumed work of art is itself an independent portrait, or a mere recasting from life, we are not prepared to affirm. It clearly represents the poet in the later period of his brief life, and does not give a very agreeable idea of his face, which is said to have been particularly handsome in youth: here he looks somewhat jaded, shifty, and supercilious.(73)

Engraving of Poe [thumbnail]

(fig. 45)
Engraving by H. B. & Sons
 
[Illustration on page 98]

Sarah Helen Whitman shared the opinion of the Academy’s critic. After receiving complimentary copies of the portrait from John Ingram, she wrote him: “I did not like the Bruckmann copies of your photograph. . . . in the smaller pictures the resemblance is somehow strangely altered or left out; the corners of the mouth, on which so much depends, are specially wanting in vraisemblance”(74) The likeness was poorly received by the British public as well, and early in 1877 Ingram was forced to concede that the image “has not been much liked here. The Athenaeum was cruel on it, & the Academy was not very enthusiastic — of the smaller copies folks are very severe.”(75) Nevertheless, the portrait has been widely reproduced, most notably in the form of a steel engraving, circa 1880, by the New York engraving firm of H. B. Hall & Sons (fig. 45).

 


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Notes:

None.


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[S:1 - PDEAP, 1989] - Edgar Allan Poe Society of Baltimore - Bookshelf - The Portraits and Daguerreotypes of Edgar Allan Poe (M. J. Deas) (Frederich Bruckmann)