PORTRAIT OF A WOMAN ART CRITIC IN PHOENIX, ARIZONA TERRITORY

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The woman in this photograph does not want to compete with the sculpture alongside her so she adeptly covered the top of the piece with her hand. Perhaps its not the competition she feared but instead she wanted to protect the viewers of her portrait from seeing the “bad art” beside her. Most likely the real reason why she’s holding the statue is that she didn’t know what else to do with her hand. This is where the photographer is supposed to play a role by posing his subject. However, Mr Hartwell seems to have been asleep at the camera and didn’t notice the posing faux pas. Mr Hartwell operated his studio in Phoenix, Arizona. The city of Phoenix was no booming metropolis. It’s population in 1880 was only 2,453. At the time of this photograph, Arizona was a US territory and would not become a state until 1912. The subject of this portrait is unidentified. She is dressed well and is wearing a wide bracelet. Her nice figure is likely accentuated by a corset. The photographer of this cabinet card, Frank A. Hartwell, became a US citizen in 1882 while living in Arizona. He formerly was a citizen of England. He is listed in the Phoenix City Directory (1903) as a photographer. He placed an advertisement for his studio in The Native American (1908). The Pacific Coast Photographer (1894) includes a human interest story pertaining to Mr. Hartwell. The article reports that upon the birth of  his daughter, Hartwell, thinking like the creative photographer that he was, decided to formulate a list of all the baby girls born on the same day as his daughter and gather them all together for a group photograph. Due to the absence of today’s HIPA’s privacy laws, his research produced a list of six baby girls. I do not know if Hartwell ever photographed these six infants, but I certainly would love to have that photograph, if it exists, to exhibit in the Cabinet Card Gallery.

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