PORTRAIT OF AN OLDER MAN WITH BRIGHT EYES AND A LONG WHITE BEARD (PITTSBURG, PENNSYLVANIA)

WHITE BEARD

This cabinet card portrait features a well dressed handsome older gentleman with a wonderful long white beard. The man has striking eyes. They are bright and soft and he projects a certain sweetness and friendliness.  This photograph was produced by the Dabbs gallery in Pittsburg, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Lomax Horsley Dabbs was born in London in 1839. He immigrated into the United States while still in his childhood. His father was a pioneer in the American photographic supply trade. Dabbs learned the photography field from his father, George Dabbs. Benjamin came to Pittsburgh in 1861 and opened a business selling photography supplies. That same year he also bought a gallery from a Mr. Rorah. He grew the business dramatically and in 1869 he sold his supply business to concentrate on being a photographer. During his tenure as a photographer in Pennsylvania, he was considered by many to be the best photographer in the state. In 1868 Dabbs married Sadie Dickson and the couple ultimately had nine children. Dabbs was a close personal friend of Abraham Lincoln and steel magnate Andrew Carnegie. Dabbs drew some attention for his stance on free resittings for customers who were not satisfied with the portraits taken by his studio. Unlike many other photographers, he refused free resittings because “the public do not value what they can get for nothing”. In his later years, Dabbs was debilitated by rheumatism and other illness. He died at age sixty in 1899. His celebrated portrait of Andrew Carnegie can be viewed today at Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum of Art.

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