Unidentified Family Photographs
Elizabeth Crowley?
Photo #1

  Isham Crowley?
Photo #2

Benjamin F. Crowley?
Photo #3

  Edna Leake Crowley?
Photo #4

Notes on Photographs, presumed to be members of the Crowley family:

These unidentified photographic portraits were discovered on the McCormick family farm in Dallas County, Texas, during the settlement of an estate. They had apparently been stored in a barnloft for many years. There were four large portraits in oval frames and one small album containing over 50 photos. All were in reasonably good condition, considering the circumstances. The portraits were removed from their frames by one of the heirs and given to Tom and Diana Williams of Dallas. Tom is a descendant of Isham Crowley, who settled in Tarrant County ca. 1846.

Jack Grantham presumed that the photos were of Isham and Elizabeth Crowley and their son and daughter-in-law, Benjamin F. and Edna Leake Crowley.

Jack recalled visiting the McCormick farm when he was a young boy. He was shown a photograph of his great-great-great grandfather (Isham Crowley), which he later identified as the one in the Williams' possession. Jack thinks that the original photographs of Isham and Elizabeth may have been made ca. 1852-56 by Adolphus Gouhenant.

These portraits appear to be made by copying the original photographs and underexposing them on photographic paper which was then molded into a convex shape. Three of the portraits were then converted into pastel paintings. This technique was particularly popular during the last quarter of the 19th century.

detail from photo #4All the portraits were signed in pastel with a cursive letter "G"; The dominant color in #1, #2, and #4 is blue-green. The technique used to color #4 was heavy-handed in comparison to the others. The woman's dark attire and shawl may indicate that she is in mourning. A friend who is very knowledgable about antiques thinks that the shawl is fastened with a mourning pin.

The gentleman in the third portrait is dressed in a rather elegant looking three-piece suit. Unlike the other portraits, this one appears to be printed in a normal manner with a sepia tone.

Copies of the large portraits were made using a 35 mm camera, a tripod and available light. There is an unavoidable distortion due to the curvature of the originals. No attempt was made to copy the collection of carte de vistes, cabinet cards, and tintypes contained in the album.

Pat Crowley

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