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James Wallace (J. W.) Black

James Wallace Black was born to a carpenter and his wife in Francestown, New Hampshire on February 10, 1825. Orphaned while still in his teens, the boy took work wherever he could find it - in a tannery in Lowell, Massachusetts and then in a cotton mill - before becoming a daguerreotype apprentice at John A. Lerow's Boston studio during the 1840s. After spending a few years as an itinerant photographer, he became a machine operator and plate polisher at L.. Hale & Company in Boston. After a brief partnership with Loyal M. Ives, Mr. Black became John Adams Whipple's apprentice in 1850, and quickly established himself as an expert in the new crystalotype technique.

Mr. Whipple rewarded his talented pupil by making him a partner in his business, which operated as Whipple & Black from 1856 until 1859. During this period, Mr. Black honed his portrait skills, and while he was personally more interested in photographic composition and the manipulation of positive and negative space, he became professionally known for capturing the emotional essence of his subjects in natural poses. Utilizing the crystalotype process he perfected, Mr. Black received critical praise for his New Hampshire landscape photographs. According to art historian Sally Pierce, what sets these landscape views apart are their textural characteristics that mirror the rustic terrain of the region. Also at this time, Mr. Black began experimenting with astronomical photography at the Harvard Observatory.

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2014-04-27 08:15:03
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