Need Help Identifying Photographer and Camera in CDV Photograph!!!


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Jun 24, 2013
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Hi I recently bought a cdv of a man in front of a painting with his paint on the floor but he also has a camera on a pillar pointing at the painting. The man looks very familiar, I was wondering if anyone could tell me any information they might know on this photo, like who he might be and what kind of camera he is using. Thank you so much for all your help.
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That's a wonderful photograph. I don't suppose there are any identifying marks like the name of a studio? The camera looks like one of those wooden view cameras with what could be a Petzval type lens (there were other brands as well).

I notice the camera doesn't look like it has bellows, and some of the Petzval lenses focused by sliding the lens barrel in and out (similar to the way bellows work). It looks in the photo that there's a knob on the lens like the Petzval lenses used but it's hard to see it well enough to tell.

I've seen pictures/drawings too of some sort of large box projectors, that used magic lantern style slides which were apparently much larger than 35mm slides - I'm not sure what era those were from (or why there would have been a projector aimed at the painting).

On the site linked you might need to skim thru but there are some photos of cameras that look similar, I'm thinking it might be a very early camera and could even be a camera used for daguerrotypes -
Antique and Classic Cameras Antique and Classic Cameras .
Scroll all the way down to the bottom to see a photo from 1866 with a similar wooden box camera - Antique and Classic Cameras - there's a search feature on the site.
The trouble is that portraits from that era are so stylized they all look pretty much the same to the modern eye, they're all "very familiar". The camera might be a clue, but it's unlikely. It could be a one-off or a nearly-one-off camera, pretty easily. The painting might be a better clue, perhaps.
Artists often used a "camera" to project an image on a canvas to aid in drawing. The first was just a small hole in a darkened tent, that produced an inverted image on a canvas or board on the other side of the tent. This "camera obscura" ( "dark room" ) gave us the present word for an image-recording device.
Drawing techniques: camera obscura - Victoria and Albert Museum

Might have been something like that.
It could be a camera obscura or other similar device since it seems like most early photographic devices were some sort of box. It's hard to tell since the fabric is draped over part of it; I think a camera obscura had a door on one side that flipped open where an early camera would have plate/sheet film holders.

I was thinking too that the device pictured may have been a somewhat earlier device than the camera used to take the photograph. It's hard to tell from the photo I think because you can't see any markings on the lens that would help figure out what it is.

You could check into having a museum take a look at it; at least one near me will schedule for people to bring in items (I think for a fee). If you could figure out the place and time period when the photograph was taken, that might help come up with some possibilities of who the man/artist is that's pictured. It would likely take a good bit of research to look up artists of a certain time period and location and even then I don't know if you'd be able to positively identify him.
Happened to look on this site today - there's a picture postcard on the main page with a camera that looks awfully similar to the one in your photo. Not sure if the dog is a professional photographer... James's Camera Retirement Home
Where the image was bought might help. In the USA? In the east? In the south? In the midwest?

A very knowledgeable historian might be able to give you some clues as to where to begin looking for this man's name, if he had with a region, and a date gleaned from the clothing style clues, like the suit's lapel design and the number of buttons on the vest, and his general age (about 40 years old,I'd estimate).

Is there ANY faded writing on the back of the card, perhaps something that might be visible by scanning, and then doing an extreme curves tweak, to re-emphasize very faded ink or worn pencil impressions?

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