1.   Barbara Maria Stafford, "Think Again: The Intellectual Side of Images," The Chronicle of Higher Education (20 June 1997), B6-7.  back

2.   Ibid., B7.  back


Research for this paper was conducted with the generous support of fellowships from Winterthur Museum, Library, and Gardens; the Henry Luce Foundation; the American Council of Learned Societies; and the Library Company of Philadelphia.  back

4.   Charles Willson Peale to Rembrandt and Rubens Peale, 23 June 1803; in Lillian Miller, Sidney Hart, and Toby Appel, eds., The Selected Papers of Charles Willson Peale and his Family [hereafter abbreviated as Selected Papers], vol. I, Charles Willson Peale, an artist in revolutionary America, 1735-1791 (New Haven and London: Yale University Press for the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1983), 537.  back          

5.   My discussion of the history of physiognotrace machines in the United States is indebted to three publications: Peter Benes, "Machine-Assisted Portrait and Profile Imaging in New England after 1803," in "Painting and Portrait Making in the American Northeast," Dublin Seminar for New England Folklife Annual Proceedings 19 (Boston, 1996), 138-150; Ellen Miles, "1803--The Year of the Physiognotrace," in ibid., 118-137; and Miles, Saint-Memin and the Neoclassical Profile Portrait in America (Washington, D.C.: A Barra Foundation book co-published with the National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, 1994). My paper in part takes up Peter Benes¹s intriguing, but unexplored, comment that "machine imaging" in America "reached its height almost half a century before the advent of daguerreotypy and photography," so that "the kind of influence exercised by daguerreotypes on American portraiture after 1839 may have been preceded by a comparable influence from physiognotraces and optical viewers after 1790." Finally, a note on nomenclature. I frequently use the word "profile" in a way that departs from its familiar twentieth-century connotation: in the eighteenth-century, "profile" was synonymous with "shade" and "silhouette," and these terms were used interchangeably to mean the images created by physiognotraces.  back

6.   For further discussion of this portrait, see Carrie Rebora and Paul Staiti, with Erica E. Hirschler, Theodore E. Stebbins Jr., and Carol Troyen, John Singleton Copley in America (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1995), 275-78.  back

7.   Jonathan Richardson, An Essay on the Theory of Painting (London, 1792), 13-14.  back

8.   Joshua Reynolds, Discourses on Art, Robert R. Wark ed. (New Haven and London: Published by the Paul Mellon Centre for Studies in British Art (London) Ltd. by Yale University Press, 1975), 259. back

9.   William Blake later protested vehemently against Reynolds's distinction between the general and the particular. Blake viewed the representation of minute and particular details as the necessary foundation of artistic representation. "Singular & Particular Detail," he wrote, "is the foundation of the Sublime." See "William Blake's Annotations to Reynolds' Discourses," in ibid., 297 and 284-319; and William Blake, The Note-book of William Blake. Called the Rossetti Manuscript, Geoffrey Keynes, ed. (London: The Nonesuch Press, 1935). back

10.   Reynolds's eleventh discourse presents the most thorough discussion of "minuteness" and the related notions, "exact," "particular," "excessive," etc.; see Reynolds, 191-204. back

11.   On Copley's portrait of Ann Tyng, see Rebora et al., 176-78. Casting aristocratic women as shepherdesses was a favorite convention of British portraitists.  back

12.   On Copley's portraits of Warren, Pickman, and Sargent, see ibid., 85-87 and 193-96. On likeness as a fictional construction, see T.H. Breen, "The Meaning of 'Likeness': American Portrait Painting in an Eighteenth-Century Consumer Society," Word & Image 6 (October-December 1990), 325-50. back

13.   See Mary Hammond, "The Camera Obscura" (Ph.D. dissertation, Ohio State University, 1986); and Martin Kemp, The Science of Art: Optical Themes in Western Art from Brunelleschi to Seurat (New Haven and London: Yale University Press, 1990), for discussions of the variety of optical instruments invented to assist both artists and non-artists in graphic representation. Camera obscuras were frequently advertised in U.S. newspapers, but there are scant records of their use by American artists. According to Benjamin West, the painter William Williams used a camera obscura to draw landscapes and let West borrow it; see David Howard Dickason, William Williams, Novelist and Painter of Colonial America, 1727-1791 (Bloomington and London: Indiana University Press, 1970), 25. In 1818, James Banton used a camera obscura to create a watercolor drawing, still extant, of the General Post Office in Washington, D.C. A later optical device, called the "camera lucida," was used by Capt. Basil Hall to draw "The Bridge Across Lake Cayuga" in 1827-28, and by government surveyors during the mid-nineteenth-century. See Josephine Cobb, "Prints, The Camera, and Historical Accuracy," in American Printmaking Before 1876: Fact, Fiction, and Fantasy (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, 1975), 3-5.  back

14.   Miles 1994, 39-43. back

15.   Robert Dossie, The Handmaid to the Arts (London, 1758).  back

16.   Robert Bradberry, The Principles of perspective, explained in a genuine theory, and applied in an extensive practice, with the construction and uses of all such instruments as are subservient to the purposes of this science (Edinburgh: printed for J. Ainslie, 1790). Maya Hambly, Drawing Instruments 1580-1980 (London: Sotheby's Publications, 1988) describes the full range of perspective machines invented during the eighteenth-century. Several artists created their own versions of these instruments in the United States. In 1788, Philadelphia painter Charles Willson Peale built and used an unidentified kind of perspective machine to make panoramic landscape drawings from the top of the State House in Annapolis, Maryland; see Selected Papers vol. I, 493-503. The British immigrant Francis Guy constructed a tent with a transparent panel for making landscape drawings in Baltimore during the 1790s; see J. Hall Pleasants, Four Late Eighteenth-Century Anglo-American Landscape Painters (Worcester, Mass.: American Antiquarian Society, 1943). In 1791, New Hampshire teacher Benjamin Dearborn advertised another invention; see "Description of a Simple Machine for Drawing in Perspective...," Universal Asylum 1 (February 1791), 67-68.  back

17.   "Physionotrace" was spelled "physiognotrace" when it was adapted by artists in the United States. Miles 1994, 43-45, is the source for my discussion of Chrétien's physiognotrace.  back

18.   Ibid., 65. back

19.   Ibid., 47-60. back          
20.   See ibid. for a comprehensive account of Saint-Mémim's life and art.  back

21.   A reconstruction of Hawkins's physiognotrace, built with funding from the Friends of Independence National Historical Park, is on view in the Second Bank of the United States, Philadelphia. For a full description of Hawkins's invention, its methods, and the profiles it produced, see ibid., 106-113; Edgar P. Richardson, Brooke Hindle, and Lillian B. Miller, Charles Willson Peale and His World (New York: Harry N. Abrams, 1983); and David Brigham, Public Culture in the Early Republic: Peale's Museum and Its Audience (Washington, D.C. and London: Smithsonian Institution Press, 1995), 68-82.  back

22.   Peale lauded this aspect of Hawkins's physiognotrace in the advertisement that he placed in the Philadelphia newspaper Aurora on 28 December 1802: the device was so simple that "any person without the aid of another can in less than a minute take their own likeness in profile. This curious machine, perhaps, gives the truest outlines of any heretofore invented, and is placed in the Museum for the visitors who may desire to take the likeness of themselves or friends." In Selected Papers vol. II, part I, Charles Willson Peale, the artist as museum keeper, 1791-1810, 478. back

23.   The Collins family album in the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia features profiles pasted upon blue-painted paper.  back

24.   "Mr. Shaw's Blackman," also in the collection of the Library Company of Philadelphia, is one of the few other extant profiles of an African-American sitter. Brigham examines this image in relation to the racial constituency of visitors to Peale's Museum; see Brigham, 71.  back

25.   Charles Willson Peale to Raphaelle Peale, 16 July 1803; Selected Papers vol. II, part I, 542: "I have just spoken to a Gentleman who says he was at your Room in Norfolk which was so crouded [sic] that he could not get his profiles. Moses has made him a good one, being from Carolina he did not at first relish having it done by a Molatto, however I convinced him that Moses could do it much better than I could." On Williams's skill, see Peale to Hawkins, 17 May 1807; Selected Papers vol. II, part II, 1014.  back

26.   Rembrandt Peale, "Notes and Queries. The Physiognotrace," (1856), 308. back

27.   Benes, 144. Benes notes that several of the homemade physiognotraces in use in New England were camera obscuras or "shadowgraphs." See also Miles 1996.  back

28.   Malbone listed "a pentagraph and a small box" among the objects he temporarily deposited in the care of a friend during ca. 1805; see "Account book and register of portraits, 1794-1807, of Edward Green Malbone," Downs Collection of Manuscripts and Ephemera, Winterthur Museum, Library and Gardens.  back

29.   On Raphaelle Peale, see Selected Papers vol. II, part I, 541-42 and 582-83; and vol. II, part II, 710-11, 750-51, 790-91, 844-46, 939, 980, 1008-11, and 1018-19. On Greenwood, see Georgia Brady Barnhill, "Extracts from the Journals of Ethan A. Greenwood: Portrait Painter and Museum Proprietor," Proceedings of the American Antiquarian Society 103:1 (1993), 91-178. back

30.   Benes, 139. back

31.   Peale to Hawkins, 17, 22, and 25 December 1805; Selected Papers, vol. II, part II, 916.  back

32. Raphaelle Peale, for example, advertised four profiles for twenty-five cents, and would hand-color these (likely with watercolors) for five dollars. By contrast, he charged twenty dollars for a painted miniature portrait, and fifty dollars for an oil portrait. (Raphaelle Peale's oil portraits were typically life-size representations of sitters' heads, arms, and upper torsos.) See Selected Papers, vol. II, part II, 751. The cost of obtaining a profile at Peale's Museum was included in the twenty-five cent admission fee, although visitors contributed one cent extra for the cost of the paper; Brigham, 70. back

33.   See Miles 1994, 27-60. back

34. Lavater first published his theories of physiognomy in Von der Physiognomik (Leipzig, 1772). The first illustrated editions followed in 1775: Fragmente--Physiognomische Fragmente, zur Beförderung der Menschenkenntniss und Menschenliebe, 4 vols. (Leipzig, 1775-78). This was translated into French in 1781, and into English in 1788-89. (Full citations for the many editions of Lavater are given in Joan K. Stemmler, "The Physiognomical Portraits of Johann Caspar Lavater," Art Bulletin 75:1 (March 1993), 151-68.) Excerpts of Lavater's translated English text first appeared in the United States in "Extracts from a Treatise on Physiognomy," New Haven Gazette, and the Connecticut Magazine I: 41 (23 November 1786), 318-19 (cited in Brandon Brame Fortune, "Portraits of Virtue and Genius: Pantheons of Worthies and Public Portraiture in the Early American Republic, 1780-1820," Ph.D. dissertation, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 1986, 218). The full edition was published in the U.S. in 1794: Essays on Physiognomy; for the Promotion of the Knowledge and the Love of Mankind... (Boston: printed for William Spotswood & David West, 1794). In addition to Stemmler, other recent studies on Lavater include Stafford, Body Criticism: Imaging the Unseen in Enlightenment Art and Criticism (Cambridge, Mass., and London: MIT Press, 1991), 84-103; Stafford, "ŒPeculiar Marks¹: Lavater and the Countenance of Blemished Thought," Art Journal (Fall 1987), 185-92; and Victor Stoichita, A Short History of the Shadow (London: Reaktion Books, 1997), 153-167. See Miles 1994, p. 219, n. 21 for additional references. back

35. Lavater 1794, 218-21. back

36.   Ibid. back

37.   Charles Willson Peale's letters indicate that he used profiles in part for this purpose. In 1805, Peale commented on the personality of his son-in-law Alexander Robinson, whom he disliked: the "head of the form which nature has given to Mr. Robinson" evinced obstinacy, wrote Peale. "...I believe Lavater would pronounce the same, I will consult him the first leisure opportunity as a tryal of my judgment in Physiognomy." Peale to Nathaniel Ramsay, 17 March 1805; in Selected Papers vol. II, part II, 816. See also Peale to Deborah Jackson, 8 January 1807, in ibid., 998-999. back

38.   On the social uses of silhouettes, see Brigham, and Anne Verplank, "Facing Philadelphia: The Social Functions of Silhouettes, Miniatures and Daguerreotypes, 1760-1860," (Ph.D. dissertation, College of William and Mary, 1996). back

39.   Cited in Miles 1994, 44. William F. Pinchbeck, who toured the United States with his wondrous "pig of knowledge" and later authored Witchcraft: of the Art of Fortune-Telling (Boston, 1805) to expose his pig's deceptions, contested claims that one could readily obtain clear outlines using the physiognotrace: "I have to observe, that many trials will be necessary before you take a complete profile. Much depends on place [sic] the person in a proper attitude, or perhaps you will suffer the tracing point to err from the line of the face." Quoted in Benes, 150. back

40.   Ibid., 107. Several of Peale's contemporaries made life casts. These included one of Washington made by Joseph Wright, and the many casts of political luminaries made by New York sculptor John H.I. Browere. back

41.   Charles Willson Peale to Thomas Jefferson, 28 January 1803; in Selected Papers vol. II, part I , 483-85. back

42.   "Edmund" [Raphaelle Peale], "On seeing Eliza's Profile, drawn with the facietrace, by Mr. Peale," Federal Gazette and Baltimore Daily Advertiser (13 June 1804); reprinted in Selected Papers vol. II, part I, 710. back

43.   Benes, 146. back

44.   Haley's poem was reprinted in The Cabinet of Genius; containing all the theory and practice of the fine arts (New York: Thomas Powers, 1808), 21-22. back

45.   On the popularity of the Corinthian maid narrative in the eighteenth-century, see Ann Bermingham, "The Origin of Painting and the Ends of Art: Wright of Derby's Corinthian Maid," in Painting and the Politics of Culture: New Essays on British Art 1700-1850, John Barrell, ed. (Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press, 1992), 135-164. Other discussions of this subject include Jacques Derrida, Memoirs of the Blind (Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press, 1993), 49-51; George Levitine, "Addenda to Robert Rosenblum's 'The Origin of Painting: A Problem in the Iconography of Romantic Classicism'," Art Bulletin 40 (December 1958), 329-331; Robert Rosenblum, "The Origin of Painting: A Problem in the Iconography of Romantic Classicism," Art Bulletin 39 (December 1957), 279-290; Mary D. Sheriff, "Art History: New Voices/New Visions," Eighteenth-Century Studies 25:4 (Summer 1992), 427-434; Richard Shiff, "On Criticism Handling History," History of the Human Sciences 2:1 (1989), 63-87; and Stoichita, 123-127, and 153-155. back

46.   On Paul and Woodside, see Joan Dolmetsch, "Four children, three artists," Antiques 91 (April 1967), 500-502; For Kearny's engraving, see The Cabinet of Genius (op. cit. 44). back

47.   Johann Joachim Winckelmann, History of Ancient Art, Alexander Gode, trans. (New York: Frederick Ungar Publishing, 1968); and Reflections on the Imitation of Greek Works in Painting and Sculpture, Elfriede Heyer and Roger C. Norton, eds. (La Salle, Ill.: Open Court, 1987). back


For a brief but salient overview of neoclassical drawing, see Jeffrey Fontana's guide to the Fogg Art Museum exhibition, "Timeless Beauty: Representing the Ideal in Neoclassical Drawing," Harvard University Art Museums Gallery Series no. 27. See also Hugh Honour, Neo-Classicism (London: Penguin Books, 1977), 111-14; and Robert Rosenblum, Transformations in Late Eighteenth Century Art (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1967).

Charles Willson Peale reified the theoretical associations between line and truth in the writing machines, or "polygraphs," that he developed contemporaneously with the physiognotrace. These instruments enabled a writer to produce multiple copies of a document as he wrote it. Peale's advertisements for the polygraph, and his extensive correspondence with Jefferson about it, reveals that he believed it to be the most precise and dependable means of making copies that had yet been invented. "None but those who have seen the POLYGRAPH, can conceive the facility with which it permits the varied motions of the Pen, without embarrassment or delay, although every motion is communicated to another Pen, which produces not only a true copy, but a fac simile of the letter"; Poulson's American Daily Advertiser, 26 February 1807; reprinted in Selected Papers vol. II, part II, 1005. For Peale, the truthfulness of the polygraph rested in part on the fact that it eliminated the need to hire a second person to make copies of one's own writing. Peale feared that such scribes could not be trusted to faithfully replicate or transmit correspondence. Benjamin Henry Latrobe endorsed the polygraph in similar terms: "It never betrays the confidence it receives,--for though it repeats every thing entrusted to it,--it never publishes a hint of its Masters secrets, and in this respect sets an example not always followed by confidential Clerks"; Latrobe to Peale, 8 June 1805; in Selected Papers vol. II, part II, 848. In his autobiography, however, Peale noted that his efforts to market the polygraph to congressmen in Washington, D.C. failed largely because the latter worried that the polygraph could be used to deceitfully imitate another's writing: "Although many members of Congress see the exact copy made in the same moment and with great care that the original was written, yet not a single member purchased, some of them said that they thought it a dangerous instrument, as any name might be made by it so like that a man may be deceived, not being able to know a copy of his own name, therefore dangerous for its facility of counterfeiting"; The Collected Papers of Charles Willson Peale, 1735-1885 [microform] Lillian B. Miller, ed. (Millwood, N.Y.: published for the National Portrait Gallery, 1980): Series II-C/18, fr. F9. Peale's correspondence and other discussions of the polygraph are reprinted in Selected Papers, vol. II, part II. back

49.   The historical opposition of color and line has been discussed by numerous scholars. See especially Jacqueline Lichtenstein, The Eloquence of Color: Rhetoric and Painting in the French Classical Age, Emily McVarish, trans. (Berkeley, Los Angeles, Oxford: University of California Press, 1993), 138-195. back

50.   William Gilpin, Three Essays: On Picturesque Beauty; On Picturesque Travel; and On Sketching Landscape: to which is added a Poem, on Landscape Painting (London, 1794), 72. back

51.   Henry Fuseli, Lectures on Painting, in Ralph Wornum, ed., Lectures on Painting, by the Royal Academicians. Barry, Opie, and Fuseli (London: Henry G. Bohn, 1848), 385. back

52.   On Americans' anxieties about art as luxury, see Joseph J. Ellis, After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture (New York: W.W. Norton, 1979); and Kenneth Silverman, A Cultural History of the American Revolution, 1763-1789 (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1976). back

53.   "Facietrace," Boston Gazette (13, 20 September 1804); Selected Papers, 750-51. back

54.   Gordon Wood, "Representation in the American Revolution," (Charlottesville: Published for the Jamestown Foundation of the Commonwealth of Virginia by the University Press of Virginia, 1969), 1. back

55.   On virtual and actual models of political representation during revolutionary and post-revolutionary America, see Wood; also Jack R. Pole, Political representation in England and the origins of the American Republic (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1971). back

56.   Cited in Wood, 3. back

57.   My analysis of the structures of visual and political representation is indebted to Richard Bernheimer's fascinating discussion of this subject in The Nature of Representation: A Phenomenological Inquiry (New York: New York University Press, 1961). back



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