[Cornelius Conway Felton with His Hat and Coat]

Artist: John Adams Whipple (American, 1822–1891)

Date: early 1850s

Medium: Daguerreotype

Dimensions: visible: 8.3 x 7 cm (3 1/4 x 2 3/4 in.) each

Classification: Photographs

Credit Line: The Rubel Collection, Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace, W. Bruce and Delaney H. Lundberg, and Ann Tenenbaum and Thomas H. Lee Gifts, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.382.41


This rare daguerreotype diptych shows Cornelius Conway Felton (1807-1862), Eliot Professor of Greek Literature at Harvard University, reaching for his felt hat and duster. The first son of a poverty-stricken furniture maker, Felton became one of the most renowned classical scholars in the country and, in 1860, Harvard's president. Although Felton donned academic robes, he never lost his connection to the everyday experiences of common folk. As opposed to the inflexible silk top hat worn by dandies and professors alike, the broad-brimmed felt duster that co-stars here was worn by outdoorsmen and was practical, casual, and fundamentally democratic.