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Southworth & Hawes
Engagement of Jenny Lind and Otto Goldschmidt
Daguerreotype, full plate
Private collection of Jason David Wright
In late January 1852, the ‘Swedish Nightingale’ Jenny Lind (the most celebrated singer of the 19th century) and her German fiancé Otto Goldschmidt walked into the Tremont Row studio of Southworth & Hawes in Boston. There they posed for their wedding portraits, to be kept under wraps until the event a week or two hence. Southworth & Hawes (1843-63) were society portraitists and the first master photographers in America, and they could keep a secret. The announcement of the Lind-Goldschmidt marriage on Feb. 5, 1852 shocked Boston and the arts world. Lind, at 31, was an internationally renowned opera star. Goldschmidt was Lind’s 22-year-old piano accompanist, composer and conductor. The couple had been introduced by mutual friend Frederic Chopin. Remnants of the back label is signed by Hawes and inscribed “Daguerreotype if Jenny Lind & her husband Goldschmidt Taken By J.J. Hawes”. Underneath this there is harder to discern writing which states “ Taken Januar **th + Undiscernible”. Originally described as a copy plate (given the haze on the surface and the oval plate image area), research has shown this to be an original Southworth & Hawes (Hawes was known on many occasions to take a life picture though the opening of a mat, thereby keeping the image in a framed oval and creating a soft focus image). Hawes took at least 4 varied plates of the couple on that January 1852 day. This version is arguably the most important and likely the one chosen as the official engagement image (and the only one to my knowledge still known in daguerreotype form - the others only appear to exist in paper print form). In this version, Lind takes the main focus – looking head on and bathed In much more light than Otto – Jenny is also in control with her arm on Otto’s shoulder. Provenance: Descended in the family of Hardy Louis Mudgett, manager of the Boston Music Hall and Boston Opera House.
Conserved by Mike Robinson.