One of my favorite overlooked photographers of the Civil War period is Antoine Sonrel, a lithographer, artist, and and one-time associate of the noted scientist Louis Agassiz.
Sonrel operated a studio in Boston, but rarely do I find examples of his work.
The carte de visite pictured here came up for auction on eBay recently, and I’m happy to have it in my collection. The unidentified gentleman sits sideways on a chair, gazing off camera with hand to cheek in what appears to be a contemplative, thoughtful frame of mind. The use of the hand to cheek pose is less common in images of this period, but it does occur. It may have been used by Sonrel and other photographers who wanted to portray men and women who wanted to see themselves as more cerebral. They were perhaps artists, scientists, and writers by occupation, or individuals engaged in similar pursuits for personal enjoyment.