A Republic, If You Can Keep It
Today, we are so familiar with candid photographs thanks to the proliferation of inexpensive digital cameras (we carry one everywhere we go in our smartphones), we forget that was not always the case. In early American history, the only method of capturing our founding fathers’ likeness was predominately through the portraiture artists’ work. These tend to be formal and stiff. Thus, we have no visual clue what these historical figures looked like in less formal – candid circumstances.
That is until now! Now, through the magic of Adobe Photoshop, we can capture them in candid poses limited only by the imagination. In this candid photograph, we traveled back in time to discover the Founding Fathers: Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, George Washington, and Thomas Jefferson, discussing Franklin’s answer to Eliza Powel’s question as to what form of government we have. We engage in a lively discussion of the promise of the new republic and all the pitfalls that will challenge our keeping it.
About Life Masks:
Before photography, life masks were the best way to give us an exact likeness of their subject. Plaster would be applied to the head and sometimes upper torso to create a mold from which a life mask (cast bust) would be created. In addition to being three-dimensional, the faithful transfer process of the life mask creation eliminated the “artistic license” and “sympathetic treatment” employed by many contemporary portrait artists. Thus, using life masks created by J.I. Browere, Jean Houdon, and Jean-Jacques Caffieri, I am able to complete a forensic/academic study of how the subjects most likely appeared using Adobe Photoshop to add flesh, hair, and other details.
Browere’s “work achieved a stark realism uncommon in that day. His plaster busts showed the age-lined brow, the pock-marked face; his subjects appeared as they were, not as artists generally portrayed them. His life masks were, and remain, the most authentic likenesses of some historic figures who lived in a day before photography provided more easily obtained but similarly uncompromising portraits.”1
“Jean-Antoine Houdon a French Neoclassical portrait sculptor, best known for his busts of contemporary political and cultural figures of the French Enlightenment. His work is characterized by its lively sense of realism and lack of idealism, capturing his subject’s transient expressions. Influenced by Classical masters such as Michelangelo, he often sculpted directly from life or by casting his model’s faces.” 2
About Your Print:
Your print comes with a certificate of authenticity and was made by a commercial printing service using archival Kodak Professional Endura Premier Lustre paper. My signature on the back is signed with an archival acid free ink pen and the blue logo stamp uses archival acid free ink.
Your print will last as long, if not longer than silver halide photographs under the same conditions. If you display your print in a frame under glass or acrylic board, try to avoid hanging in direct sunlight as the color may fade over time, as do traditional photographs.
This is a new ready-to-frame print. (FRAME NOT INCLUDED)
Prints ship with 1-5 business days via USPS First Class Mail. Free U.S. Shipping.
Sources & References:
1Donald B. Webster, Jr. “The Day Jefferson Got Plastered” American Heritage (1963) https://www.americanheritage.com/day-jefferson-got-plastered
2Artnet “Jean-Antoine Houdon” http://www.artnet.com/artists/jean-antoine-houdon