Rare Victorian - Emily Dickinson Gothic Revival Chair Mystery

Emily Dickinson Gothic Revival Chair Mystery

ed1 e1284059275518 Emily Dickinson Gothic Revival Chair Mystery

I was contacted by someone who was curious if the Rare Victorian community could take a look at this newly found, rare photo of Emily Dickinson. It was previously believed that there was only one of her in existence, but research in to the verification of this new image is proving to be promising that it is a morphological match for Emily.
Apparently, there is a desire to uncover which photographer may have taken the photo and that identifying the chair might be of some help to do that.  I assume that this chair model/design probably was reproduced by its maker hundreds or thousands of times and shipped/sold throughout the U.S., so I wonder about the ability to match it to a particular photographer studio or even final locale due to a lack of uniqueness.

I do not have my copies of Gothic Revival furniture reference books at hand at the moment, so I wonder if the Gothic fans out there could take a look at this photo and see if anyone recognizes it well enough to assign a maker and possibly date of manufacture.

Here are two stories on the find of this photograph, here and here.

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  • Ulysses Dietz - July 21, 2010

    The chair can probably not be pinpointed to any one maker or even a precise regional location. I would say East Coast and also before 1860. Of course, there may be a known maker of a distinctive Gothic revival chair like this–but I don’t know of it. The hair and the costume both point to this picture, as does her jewelry and even the general pose.

  • Funbud - July 21, 2010

    I think the first place to look would be around Amherst, MA (Emily’s hometown) to find any photos by local photography studios that may show the same chair. After that, I’d look at photographs taken in Boston photography studios. Dickinson traveled little, but she did make a prolonged trip to Washington, DC and to Philadelphia in 1855, so the picture could have been taken in either city. Maybe a Dickinson expert could say whether there is any reference in family papers/letters to Emily having her picture taken (rather a big deal in the mid-19th Century)?

  • nibbles - January 31, 2011

    If you look at the photo upside down compared to the first known photo of E.D the resimblance is undeniably similar. What a great discovery. If this was pre 1860’s it’s hard to believe she looks so much different than the pic. previous. Honestly when I first saw it, I thought E.D must be 35 or 40yrs. old here but if it is pre 1860’s than she was still in her 20’s. I’m just saying, anyone else notice that? I’ll leave it to the experts though.She looks so sad and longing.

  • nibbles - January 31, 2011

    Is it just me or does it look like Emily has 2 middle fingers in this photo? Seriously, it looks like she has 5 fingers excluding her thumb with it being tucked under her hand. Could be a blur or something from movement, but wow that looks so strange.I’d really like to know why it looks like she has an extra middle finger. You all see that too right?

  • John Werry - January 31, 2011

    Yeah, I see the finger thing. I can’t figure it out.

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