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Thread: Earliest photograph of Richard Wagner?

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Default Earliest photograph of Richard Wagner?

    Apologies if this has been posted previously but I found this fascinating. An expert in the biometric computer-analysis of images posted this biometric comparison of a 1844 daguerrotype of RW with two later photographs. The fly in the ointment is the chin dimple. Still, he makes a very persuasive case for authentication.


    Last edited by Revenant; Oct-03-2013 at 00:32.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member Itullian's Avatar
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    great video. very interesting.
    thank you.
    When all else fails, listen to Thick as a Brick.

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    I thought this was the earliest known photo of the great man.
    BABY Wagner.jpg

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Could be! Quick, fire up that biometric app!
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    The young man in the picture has a vague resemblance to Wagner at best. It looks like Chevy Chase. The nose is too delicate and the bridge is too thin. The chin is not pronounced as much as Wagner's and has a definite dimple. I am also skeptical of the objectivity of the expert--all too often 'experts' have a stake in the verification of potentially valuable objects.

    Wagner expert Barry Millington on this photograph: "For the subject of an anonymous daguerreotype to be identified with Wagner, you would expect as a basic minimum that there would be a facial resemblance. Albert Kaplan's picture unfortunately bears no resemblance to any known portrait or photograph of Wagner. He's not deterred, however, even by the dimple, but is there even any history of attribution to Wagner? Apparently not. Mr Kaplan acquired the picture and decided immediately that it was Wagner. What can one say? "

    One might also be interested in this article: http://wagnermelb.org.au/xoops/modul....php?itemid=76

    The thought process of those involved seems to be--

    1. We have a picture of a young German man taken in the mid 19th century.

    2. Of all young German men around that time, Wagner became the most famous and a picture of him would bring the most money and attention.

    3. It must be Wagner.
    Last edited by Logos; Oct-04-2013 at 00:03.

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Logos View Post
    The young man in the picture has a vague resemblance to Wagner at best. It looks like Chevy Chase. The nose is too delicate and the bridge is too thin. The chin is not pronounced as much as Wagner's and has a definite dimple. I am also skeptical of the objectivity of the expert--all too often 'experts' have a stake in the verification of potentially valuable objects.

    Wagner expert Barry Millington on this photograph: "For the subject of an anonymous daguerreotype to be identified with Wagner, you would expect as a basic minimum that there would be a facial resemblance. Albert Kaplan's picture unfortunately bears no resemblance to any known portrait or photograph of Wagner. He's not deterred, however, even by the dimple, but is there even any history of attribution to Wagner? Apparently not. Mr Kaplan acquired the picture and decided immediately that it was Wagner. What can one say? "

    One might also be interested in this article: http://wagnermelb.org.au/xoops/modul....php?itemid=76

    The thought process of those involved seems to be--

    1. We have a picture of a young German man taken in the mid 19th century.

    2. Of all young German men around that time, Wagner became the most famous and a picture of him would bring the most money and attention.

    3. It must be Wagner.
    Thank you for this information. I too was thrown by the dimple, and Kaplan's explanation seems to gloss over it (no pun intended) by blaming the "vicissitudes of 19th Century photography." What struck me about the video in the link, however, are the many points of comparison between the inconnu in the 1844 daguerrotype and the two known photographs of Wagner. The broadening of the nose can be attributed to aging (a phenomenon with which I'm personally well-acquainted btw). Other factors, such as the bump on the left side of the nose just below the eye, and the eyebrows are, I must admit, intriguing. But I was not aware of the background information you've provided, and which I agree are excellent arguments against verification on the original grounds.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Has "biometrics" dispensed with that all telling feature of the ears and earlobes, which are as unique from one individual to the next as are fingerprints?

    Right there, ears and earlobes alone, that Daguerreotype in question is not Wagner.

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Good point. The biometrics bypassed that feature of the earlobes. And the stereopticon technique was not available or even invented in 1844, as noted in the link in an earlier post. All that is determinative. There seems to have been some curious ethics at play in the purported authentication bid.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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    What? Young Wagner? No way! Wagner never was a young man (or even a child). He was born with that old posture already! I can't imagine him other way. hehehe

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    Senior Member PetrB's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dionisio View Post
    What? Young Wagner? No way! Wagner never was a young man (or even a child). He was born with that old posture already! I can't imagine him other way. hehehe
    Oh, he was an innocent babe once like everyone else, but pity, if that being dropped on his head when he was one and a half hadn't have happened, we would have been spared some 36 hours or so of opera.

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    Senior Member Couchie's Avatar
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    Please don't post pictures of Wagner, pbuh. It's very offensive to Wagnerites. You must remove pictures of Wagner (pbuh) from the site immediately.
    Doch dieses Wörtlein: und, -wär' es zerstört,
    wie anders als mit Isoldes eignem Leben wär' Tristan der Tod gegeben?

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    Senior Member Revenant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Couchie View Post
    Please don't post pictures of Wagner, pbuh. It's very offensive to Wagnerites. You must remove pictures of Wagner (pbuh) from the site immediately.

    pbuh? huh? Are you sure it's not Lead(II) hydroxide, Pb(OH)2 instead? Well, I thought that baby picture was cute, but...

    bunny-pancake-head.jpg
    Last edited by Revenant; Oct-04-2013 at 18:43.
    "No preluding! Piano pianissimo -- then all will be well." (Posted in the orchestra pit on August 13, 1876)

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