Sibyl – from an outline in chalk on canvas Allston, Washington  (American, 1779-1843)

The Outlines and Sketches contained in this Volume, are a part of those found in Mr. Allston’s Studio, in Cambridge after his death, in July 1843. They consist in great part of compositions, hastily sketched in chalk and never carried further… where it was necessary to reduce them for engraving, the daguerreotype was used (taken by Josiah Hawes), by which the image was conveyed to the engraver’s plates, prepared for that purpose, and there fixed by tracing the line through the silver. [1]

The engravings are by the Cheney brothers, well-known Boston engravers, who decided in the 1840s after the death of the painter Washington Allston, to publish a book of engravings based on the sketches at the time of his death. The Cheneys enlisted the help of Josiah Hawes in reproducing the large pictures in a smaller format for copying as engravings. Hawes, using a rectilinear lens of his own design, made the copies onto ‘copper plates sufficiently silvered’, and as large as 16 inches square, which were than ‘engraved by John Cheney, following the lines of the daguerreotype‘. These plates must have been some the largest ever done for publication, being well over double-whole plate —Southworth and Hawes excelled at such sizes.

Reproduced / Exhibited

Hanson, David A. "The Beginnings of Photographic Reproduction in the Usa." History of Photography. 12.4 (1988): 357-376. figure 13 (alt)


[1] Outlines and Sketches by Washington Allston introduction.