Brown, John Henry - portraits of a father and son

This pair of miniature portraits are opalotypes by John Henry Brown (compare plates V and XI in Verplanck).

Opalotypes were based on a photographic image on milk glass, but then hand painted over the image so that they looked like miniatures on ivory. Thus they were a cheaper form of portrait than those on ivory, but were in colour and had lasting qualities that were then absent from other types of photographs.

John Henry Brown was the prime exponent of the technique. He did not sign his opalotypes, but he used the same frames as for his miniatures on ivory and so it is fairly certain that opalotypes in these frames are by him. Generally also his opalotypes were bust portraits only without any background.

Thus these portraits are framed in the typical style of frame that Brown used and are contained in the same outer case. The sitters appear to be father and son, but are unknown. 979a, 979b

No comments: