Exhibitions/ Art Object


Unknown (American)
Each approximately 13.5 x 9 cm (5 5/16 x 3 9/16 in.), irregular
Credit Line:
Purchase, The Buddy Taub Foundation Gift, Dennis A. Roach and Jill Roach, Directors, 2011
Accession Number:
Not on view
Introduced to the United States in 1856, the tintype was a process that produced hardy, portable, and unique photographs at low cost, characteristics that made it perfect for an expanding portrait market. Likely made by a local Philadelphia photographer, these nine tintypes (from a group of eighteen) capture not a distinguishing likeness but its endless variation when shaped by a leading pantomimist’s greatest attributes—his expressive features, gesturing hands, and simple costumes. The actor’s wild poses are matched to the relatively faster exposure times that characterize small tintype cameras, further supporting the notion that, in general, the camera isolates any instant among many rather than one representative of a whole. The malleable face on display here probably belongs to Fawdon Vokes (né Walter Fawdon) who joined the ranks of the Vokes Family, a group of London performers who toured the United States starting in 1872.
(Sotheby's, New York, April 22, 2006, no. 62); [Hans P. Kraus, Jr. Inc., New York, 2006–11]

The gentleman depicted in these images has been identified as a member of the Vokes family, likely Fawdon Vokes. The 10 original paper mats that accompany the plates are similar to mats produced by Nixon & Stokes.
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