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Lot 0007
Charles Darwin (1809-1882).

Photograph of Darwin by Oscar Gustav Rejlander signed in full and dated on the mount (‘Charles Darwin / May 1. 1881’).

Carbon print of an 1871 negative, stamped 'Autotype Company', mounted on card printed ‘Copyright / Marion, Imp Paris / Deposé’ on verso, the print 102 x 77mm, the mount 164 x 108mm (slight waterstaining to the mount and edges of the print).

‘The best photographs of me have been taken by Mr Rejlander’, wrote Charles Darwin on 12 October 1871 to the unidentified editor of a review, enclosing an example of his favoured image to illustrate the piece [DCP-LETT-8003]. Darwin had sought out Oscar Gustave Rejlander (1813-1875) earlier that same year, in the hope that the renowned Swedish art photographer might provide a suitably expressive suite of photographs for The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals (1872), nearly all the earlier candidates having been found wanting. Rejlander, whose work had already attracted the attention of Queen Victoria and who had taught Julia Margaret Cameron photography, did not disappoint: Darwin was delighted with his ‘passion for photographing all sorts of chance expressions exhibited on various occasions’ [DCP-LETT-7666]. So pleased was Darwin with Rejlander’s photographs for his third major work, that he complied gladly with the latter’s request to sit for photographs, which Rejlander would then sell. This unusually-sized print – larger than the standard carte-de-visite images that most often appear at auction – is taken from one of the original negatives of 1871; it was signed in the last year of Darwin's life.

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Darwin by his favourite photographer

Estimate £12,000 - £18,000May 23, 2019
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New York, NY, USA
Auction Curated By:
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Sophie Hopkins
Associate Director, Specialist, Manuscripts & Archives