Thursday, November 27, 2014

Those Places Thursday - 1860's Actress Ada Webb

For a very long time I've wanted to post this CDV photograph of a very beautiful and contemplative young woman.  This photo was taken by C. D. Fredericks of 587 Broadway, New York, 108 Calle de la Habana, Habana, and 31 Passage du Havre, Paris. My belief is that this was taken in New York City, due to information published by Benson John Lossing1. By looking at several things including the thin green border lines I can determine this the date of the photograph as between 1863 – 1864.

The subject is unidentified, but what is quite interesting is that while perusing Pinterest just the other night I came across this photograph of two sisters and the one on the left is most obviously my subject.  I tried to no avail to trace back to the original poster in the hopes of finding more information about that particular photograph – very frustrating indeed. 

UPDATE August 2018:  This is actress Ada Webb who often acted on the stage in the 1860's with her sister Emma Webb.

In researching the photographer, I identified him as Charles Deforest Fredericks born in 1823, died 1894.  He was born wealthy, taken to Cuba as a boy and when his father’s fortunes plummeted in the crash of 1837 he was unable to attend college.  He abandoned a finance career and sought his fortune in Venezuela.  Seeking something to fall back on he took up photography, taking lessons from Jeremiah Gurney.  After a serious misadventure in in Brazil he traveled to the United States before returning to South America.  He mastered his craft then crossed the Atlantic and using the glass negative conquered Paris.  Using the image enlarger developed by Snelling he created life size portraits and make a small fortune.

He returned to New York as a celebrity and established the successful Fredericks Studio on Broadway opposite the Metropolitan Hotel which was the largest and most stylish gallery in the city.  The studio was destroyed by fire in 1875 and relocated to 770 Broadway.  Fredericks died in 1894.

1History of New York City, (New York, Perine, 1884), 411-13.  Charles DeForest Fredericks, The Photographic Journal of America 31 (1894), 310.

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