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Found a new version of a Polk-pic

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  • Evelyn Radecke
    complete with hands and spectacles. It is the full version of the oval picture which I show in my collection of faces. The folks at the Polk Ancestral Home
    Message 1 of 1 , Jul 2, 2007
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      complete with hands and spectacles. It is the full version of the oval
      picture which I show in my collection of faces. The folks at the Polk
      Ancestral Home told me that the man on the oval pic is most probably
      not Polk, but when I examined the case again I came to believe that it
      is probably Polk after all - just mirror-inverted.

      I came to wonder which of the daguerrotypes show dear Jimmy in the
      sense of the paintings from life. My theory is that Brady's and Healy's
      photographic portraits show Polk in the sense of the "official" Healy
      portrait from 1846 (title picture of this group), while the two other
      daguerrotypes are inverted. As for the oval picture I'm quite sure, as
      for the picture of the two Polks I've still some doubts.

      I'm still guessing when the picture with the spectacles was taken. Was
      it 1847 as one source stated or shortly before his retirement as
      another one says? Or was it taken on Polk's journey home?

      The odd thing about the picture is that Polk looks so dishevelled,
      while he looks quite tidy on all other likenesses. I guess that it was
      taken while Sarah was absent. I cannot imagine that she would have
      allowed anyone to picture Jimmy with a shifted collar and unkempt hair.

      So I thought that it was taken on his journey home, when he was often
      parted from Sarah. The hot weather would explain the look of hair and
      collar and the stress of travels and countless exhausting ceremonies
      would explain the air of "hardly looking like oneself for exhaustion".

      But whence the spectacles if he was asked to let himself daguerrotype
      when he attended some kind of party in his honour? Was there anything
      to read? Was it just a conventional pose that the daguerrotyper
      suggested? Did he in fact hold something else and the spectacles were
      drawn by the daguerrotypist, as the hands and spectacles look somewhat
      retouched?

      So I wondered whether the picture was perhaps taken when Polk visited
      the University of North Carolina at the End of May in 1847. There Sarah
      was also often separated from him and the presentation of spectacles
      explains with more ease. Else there is a brief account of his visit
      that fits the picture quite closely:

      President Polk was applauded for his total absence of ostentation, his
      sincere and unassuming courtesy. The contrast of the thoughtful,
      tranquil expression of his classmate, Thomas J. Green, of Virginia,
      looking twenty years younger, with the President's anxious countenance,
      his silvered hair and careworn features, denoting incessant toil and
      perhaps suffering, was observed. ... The President's Lady, as his wife
      was called, was pronounced by all classes to be peculiarly fascinating.
      (peculiarly fascinating, how polite. The Missus had struggled through a
      serious fit of malaria in the beginning of May. So she might have still
      looked a bit frail and pale while she wore a gorgeous outfit and
      displayed all her innate and acquired charms. I can imagine certain
      Ladies speaking of her as darn ugly, but soooo enchanting - poor dear,
      look at her bleary uneven eyes, her beak of a nose, and her overbite,
      he must be very fond of her, though, dressing her in Parisian gowns ...
      chuckle ...) Could not suppress this excursion, but now back to Jimmy.

      The style of the neckwear and collar and the cut of the hair also
      suggests that the pic is from 1847, but then Polk looks much older than
      on the Brady portrait of 1849. Though Brady certainly glossed over the
      deep lines on the forehead the lower part seems to be untouched and
      does not show such an air of being troubled as the oval pic.

      I cannot make up my mind. Perhaps one of you got an idea.

      Else you might enjoy the results of my passion for blending Polk pics
      and give your opinion on "which way round?".
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