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Historic Portraits Newly Conserved
Two historically significant portraits received treatment by the Intermuseum Conservation Association in 2009

 

Bas-relief photographic portrait of Amzi L. Barber, ca. 1900
Creator: Taber Bas-Relief Photographic Syndicate

Painted portrait on porcelain of Charles Grandison Finney, 1862
Creator: S. Chesters

 

This past academic year, two historically significant portraits in the Oberlin College Archives received treatment by the Intermuseum Conservation Association (ICA), Cleveland, with monies from the Hunt Fund for Preservation and Digital Access established in 2007. This fund enables the Archives to undertake preservation, conservation and digital access projects for visual works, sound and moving image recordings, and other objects in need of treatment, stabilization and/or migration to new media.

The portrait of Amzi L. Barber (left), Oberlin graduate of 1867 and College Trustee from 1889 to 1909, is a rare, bas-relief platinotype. The surface of the photograph is molded so as to render a sculptural quality. This "embossed photographs" process was patented in 1896 by Freeman A. Taber, brother of the photographer Isaiah West Taber. Taber's photographic plates, negatives and portraits on glass were destroyed in the San Francisco earthquake and fire of 1906. For other Isaiah West Taber photographs including his self-portrait in the Bancroft Library at the University of California, Berkeley, see the Online Archive of California website.

The painted portrait on porcelain of Charles Grandison Finney (right) dates from 1862. Finney was the foremost evangelist preacher in pre-Civil War America who established Oberlin College's Theological Department in 1835. He was Oberlin's second president, from 1851-1866. Finneylived in a house at the corner of Professor and Lorain Streets during his entire tenure at Oberlin until his death in 1875. Finney Memorial Chapel, funded by his son, now occupies the site of the former Finney home.

In 2008 Finney was featured in Simon Schama's BBC television series and the 2009 book entitled The American Future: A History, for which the BBC visited the Archives in spring 2008. For more information on Charles Grandison Finney, see the Finding Guide for the Finney Papers at the Archives. Other portraits of Finney can be seen in the Archives' Select Historic Portraits digital collection.

Credits: Photography by John T. Seyfried for the Intermuseum Conservation Association

 
 
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