Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

General Discussion about Wagner and The Ring of the Nibelung

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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby feuerzauber » Sun Jan 20, 2013 7:29 pm

Albert, no doubt you are already aware of the recently discovered 1861 full-length photograph of Richard Wagner featured on "The Wagnerian" website http://www.the-wagnerian.com/2013/01/long-lost-photo-of-richard-wagner-found.html?m=1.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby albertkaplan » Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:31 am

Dear Feuerzauber, yes, I saw that photographic image of Wagner. Marvelous.

Here in Las Vegas, Nevada, the economy is based on tourism. We have massive hotels, one with 8000 rooms. Nearly every hotel has a casino. My friend, Bob Schmitt, is one of the critical players in this casino/hotel industry through his company, Biometrica, safeguarding the house edge which in some instances can be as little as 1 %. Biometrica sees everybody entering a casino, and instantly compares that person to its extensive database of bad guys, that is, cheaters, thieves, and the like, a surprisingly large number of individuals. This is biometric facial identification in action, a service essential to casino profitabity. Bob's staff not only moniter the cameras (one casino has 3000). They are required to use their experience in facial identification to fine tune their observations when a possible match occurs. Not surprisingly, Bob has extensive personall experience in such examinations. I was not at all surprised, therefore, when he pointed out two identical points that I completely missed. He will be pointing them out in his video. Let me add something here. I have leaned that especially qualified people for these analyses are plastic and reconstructive surgeons. If the reader may know of any of these surgeons who are members of the Wagner Society network, do please let them know about this matter, and ask them to examine the photographic images. And, put me in touch with them. Thank you.

I expect the video will be put up very soon, maybe by January 23rd.

Viewers may notice substantially reduced text relating to Grant Romer's examination. The net result is the same.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby albertkaplan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 11:11 am

The video is ready to go up on the Site. However, my webmaster apparently ate something that has caused him to be ill. Maybe he will show up for work today. However, the London Wagner Society has put the video up on their Site. And, viewers can, on their Site, vote their opinion as to whether or not the image is of Wagner . Also, I expect that there will be some changes to Grant Romer's comments, not of substance, but rather the forthcoming text ought to be more clear to the reader. When these two tasks are complete I think that the Richard Wagner section of www.kaplancollection.com ought to be completed.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby albertkaplan » Tue Jan 29, 2013 5:30 pm

It is January 29th, 2:30 p.m. in Nevada. The video is up on the Site, and the changes to the text have been made.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby feuerzauber » Tue Jan 29, 2013 8:06 pm

Albert, thank you for the entertaining and instructive video.

I find much of the video convincing, given the apparently normal biometric caveats that Bob apparently makes as a matter of professional course — allowances for contingencies such as accidental differences in

    head orientations,
    scene lightings,
    exposure times,
    camera angles,
    camera lenses,
together with the assumption that you are dealing with a mirror inversion, which can't be made simply by flipping a negative plate but must involve an interposed mirror with its own introduced projective distortion.

Given all of the above, it does seem amazing that the images overlap so well.

However, I'm not convinced beyond all possible doubt. Watch the right ears — particularly in the static fades.

I see the young man's ears way out to the right of the old man's. What's going on here?

This obvious discrepancy disturbs me.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby albertkaplan » Thu Jan 31, 2013 1:19 am

The ears can easily be way up or way down, way left or way right depending on whether the subject is looking upward or downward, and whether the lens is above or below the mid-line of the face, etc. In a word, do not pay attention to the ears. Bob Schmitt has a marvelous chart which explains this very clearly. How to get it to you? Let me know your email address, and I will ask Bob to send it to you. Then, if you wish to put it up on this Site, just ask him if it is OK. I am sure he will say yes. But you need to ask him. My email address is, albertkaplan@cox.net. Albert
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby feuerzauber » Thu Jan 31, 2013 3:39 am

Albert,

I have sent my personal email address to you via the wagnerheim private-message mechanism to establish my credentials.

I look forward to receiving Bob's chart, and will immediately share it with readers — should Bob be willing for me to do so — in order that readers may better evaluate Bob's video.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby feuerzauber » Sat Feb 02, 2013 6:49 pm

Bob Schmitt of Biometrica has kindly sent me his Richard Wagner "ear chart", that explains Albert's point:

The ears can easily be way up or way down, way left or way right depending on whether the subject is looking upward or downward, and whether the lens is above or below the mid-line of the face, etc. In a word, do not pay attention to the ears. Bob Schmitt has a marvelous chart which explains this very clearly.


It's a 180 K PDF document that may be downloaded through the link:
https://www.dropbox.com/s/mxshexviitdq883/Face%20Angles.pdf

[Apologies over the delay in setting up this document link as I had first to work out how best to store it for this text-only discussion forum.]

I have taken it upon myself to add the following rider, which Albert approves:

The contents of this Richard Wagner "ear chart" should be acknowledged, when reproduced in print, on line, or in a public meeting, as being Copyright 2013 Bob Schmitt (Biometrica).
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby feuerzauber » Wed Feb 20, 2013 11:16 pm

Albert Kaplan has posted for comparison with his purported daguerreotype of Richard Wagner an image of the front cover of Ernest Newman's Life of Richard Wagner Volume 2 [Cambridge University Press: 1976] reprint edition.

I have discussed the matter with Peter Bassett, and taken it upon myself to respond.
Peter's private contributions to me — the bulk of this response — are indicated by [PB].

1. Rudolf Lehmann's Wagner Image on the Cover of Ernest Newman's Volume 2 was Not Endorsed by the Author

The 1937 original edition by Cassells/Knopf contains thirteen plates but none of Wagner. This 1976 reprint edition by Cambridge University Press contains no plates, but has the Lehmann image on its cover. Newman had died 17 years previously, and can have had nothing to do with this image's selection as cover art.

It is important to state this absolutely clearly on account of Newman's authoritative stature in order to avoid any implication that Newman actually endorsed this image. No such explicit endorsement is available. Repeat — Newman did not endorse this image; it is the publisher's choice.

[In passing, it strikes me as amazing that owners of the Cambridge reprint hadn't offered this cover image as clear evidence that the young Wagner sported a dimple on his chin, something that was frequently cited as at minimum suspect and at maximum damning for Albert's attribution of his sitter to a young Wagner.]

2. Not Listed in the British Museum Catalogue

Cambridge University Press states on the back cover "The cover portrait by Rud. Lehmann, 1850, is reproduced from a copy in the British Museum".

The British Museum drawings-and-prints collection contains an excellent Rudolf Lehmann gallery of over 100 portraits of significant British, US and Continental figures during the mid and second-half of the 19th century, including many musicians and composers. This is not one of them

The catalogue includes 24 portraits by Rudolf Lehmann (mainly drawings) and three by his artist brother Henri (Heinrich) dated between 1840 and 1855.

We conclude that either (a) the publisher's attribution is wrong, (b) the British Museum web catalogue is incomplete [this is possible, especially in the case of uncertainty], (c) the British Museum has relinquished its ownership.

3. Similar/Identical Image Listed in the Bridgeman Collection

The Bridgeman Collection catalogue describes this drawing as

Caption: Wilhelm Richard Wagner in 1850
Artist: Henri Lehmann
Artwork location: Private Collection
Artwork medium: Engraving
Copyright notice: (copyright) Bridgeman Education.

http://www.lookandlearn.com/history-images/XB268346/Wilhelm-Richard-Wagner?img=9&search=Henri+lehmann

4. Drawing Not Inscribed by its Subject

Rudolf's portraits are always inscribed with his sitter's signature [PB]. His own signature is generally absent or represented by a lozenge-shaped monogram.

The Bridgeman reproduction lacks its sitter's inscription. Thus it is extremely unlikely that Richard Wagner OK-ed the Bridgeman object [PB].

Contrary-wise, unlike Rudolf's British Museum portraits, it bears the artist's autograph, which reads something like: "Rud Lehmann <Place> 15 [Januar] 1850". Cambridge attributes the cover image to "Rud. Lehmann, 1850".

Why, if the Bridgeman object bears Rudolf's signature, does the Bridgeman catalogue ascribe it to his brother?

5. Wagner's Lack of Association with the Lehmann Brothers

Wagner was in Paris for a few weeks early in 1850 on his way to Bordeaux to see Jessie Laussot. He mentions seeing his artist friend Kietz, and the drawing the latter did of him, but there is no mention of either of the Lehmann brothers. Henri would have been in Paris at that time, and Rudolf in London. So how all that fits together is anyone's guess. (A job for Poirot, I think.) [PB]

The only references to the Lehmann brothers [unfortunate pun] found by a quick search in Wagner material are from Cosima's diary for 16 April 1870. There are no references to Wagner knowing Rudolf Lehmann before then [PB].

Rudolf drew Liszt in 1849 in Weimar (in theory he could have drawn Wagner then too before he fled, although having his portrait drawn would not have been high amongst his priorities then) [PB].

[This could — at a stretch — explain why it slipped Wagner's memory, and why it lacks his signature, but it can't explain the 1850 date, unless the drawing was completed in two sittings, the latter from memory after Wagner fled Germany.]

6. Stylistic Observations

The style of Rudolf's work, as exemplified in the British Museum, is more sketchy and immediate than the 'finished' style of the book cover image [PB].

There is something about the drawing though that is not quite right for Wagner, as if it had been finished from memory on the basis of a quick initial sketch. But, who can say? [PB]

7. A Copy of What?

References found on the web (and on the book cover) qualify the print as 'after' or 'copy of'. If there was an original of Wagner by Rudolf Lehmann, it seems to have vanished [PB].

The Cambridge and Bridgeman images appear superficially identical within the limits of web low resolution. [I have yet to receive a higher resolution version of the image from Bridgeman.]

Bridgeman calls its image an engraving. To my eye, there's little evidence of a steel cutting tool at work. It looks more like a drawing. But, if it's an engraving, then we must face the lateral inversion issue again. For a graphic print the autograph, if righted, might betray evidence of backhandedness, which it doesn't seem to.

Cambridge calls its image a copy. If by copy Cambridge implies a graphic print, then it's a lithographic print, as it betrays the hallmarks of the crayon work of a lithographer. The autograph is cropped out in the cover art. Surely Cambridge doesn't mean by a 'copy' merely a 'photograph'.

A lithographic [or any other graphic reproduction] print is intriguing. If people are running off volume runs of reproductions of RW circa 1850, provided they aren't the police, mightn't some enterprising daguerreotypist run off copy daguerreotypes as well? Intriguing, but this line speculative guesswork currently leads us nowhere.

8. What does this Image Add?

This is the first unambiguously corroborative image that is catalogued as [36-year old] Richard Wagner sporting a dimple in his chin. Few people expected that such evidence would turn up, and it does so [circumstantially] on Newman of all places.

The presence of youngish Wagner's dimple [provided it's not an artistic flourish] is no longer persuasive evidence against the daguerreotype being a young Wagner. Lehmann gives Wagner a dimple like the man in the daguerreotype.

The problem is that the scant information Peter and I have been able to find — admittedly in a very short time — about this dimpled image is a contradictory mess. So for the moment this image adds little.

We must acknowledge that now we are trying to match a laterally-righted copy of an unknown original in one medium against a similarly laterally-righted copy of a different unknown original in another medium.

To proceed beyond this mess, someone needs to establish the circumstances of the original drawing and of its copying, and the history of its ownership — its provenance.

Ironically, this parallels the situation with the daguerreotype.
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Re: Can this 1844 daguerreotype be Richard Wagner?

Postby albertkaplan » Sun Feb 24, 2013 5:58 am

I never put weight on the lack of a dimple in the later photographic images. I continue to maintain that 19th Century photography is full of vivisitudes. A foremost example is the Lincoln daguerreotype in the vault of the Library of Congress, named ""Meserve # 1"". Leading 19th Century Lincoln scholars, (including Senator Beveridge), some of whom knew Lincoln personally, were convinced the image was not of Lincoln. They were unaware that Robert Todd Lincoln declared that the daguerreotype was his gift to Frederick HIll Meserve, and that it was a photographic image of his Father. Another example is my ambrotype of Oscar Wilde. I am the first to say that the image does not remind us of Oscar Wilde. Yet, the forensics leaves no doubt the sitter is none other than Oscar Wilde. Distortion is inherent in photography, and this is especially true in early photography.
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