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New York University held a commemoration to celebrate the centenary of Dr. John William Draper (an Englishman by birth), who, when Professor of Chemistry in the university's early days, took the first photographic likeness ever made of the human face, when Daguerre failed to do it.

Some of Draper's advice for portrait sittings include: “The hands should never rest upon the chest, for the motion of respiration disturbs them so much as to make them have a thick, clumsy appearance, destroying also the representation of the veins on the back, which, if they are held motionless, are copied with surprising beauty.”

“It has already been stated that pictorial advantages attend an arrangement in which the light is thrown upon the face at a small angle. This also allows us to get rid entirely of the shadow on the background or to compose it more gracefully in the picture. For this it is well that the chair should be brought forward from the background from three to six feet.

“Those who undertake daguerreotype portraiture will, of course, arrange the background of their pictures according to their own tastes. When one that is quite uniform is desired, a blanket or a cloth of drab color, properly suspended, will be found to answer very well.”

You can read a copy of the news article as it first appeared on 30th April 1911 below:



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