Apotheosis

This image depicting George Washington and Abraham Lincoln is titled “Apotheosis.”

Definition:
1. the elevation or exaltation of a person to the rank of a god.

2. the ideal example; epitome; quintessence.

Based on the title, the image could be interpreted as a god like George Washington welcoming Abraham Lincoln to heaven. Copyrighted in 1865, the image was widely reproduced after Lincoln’s death. This copy from the Ohio Historical Society’s collection of Lincoln memorabilia was mounted on a carte de visite.

Cartes des visite originated in France. They are photographs mounted on cards usually measuring about 2 ¼ x 4 ¼ inches, the same size as calling cards that were commonly used in the 19th century. The name is the French phrase for calling card. Cartes des visite were introduced in the United States in 1859.

With the advent of the Civil War, they became a popular format for soldiers and family portraits because they were light weight and portable. Cartes des visite also became a popular format for photographers to sell photographs of well known people, such as military officers, politicians and entertainers. Albums were produced with pockets sized to slide in cartes des visite. It is not uncommon to find images like this one of Washington and Lincoln tucked in family albums.

Lisa Wood
Curator for Visual Resources

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2 Responses to Apotheosis

  1. D. Jeremy Butterfield says:

    Lisa Wood,
    I located an antique photo album in my Grandmother’s basement this month, December, 2012, and it contains several photos of Union Officers and the above mentioned photo (Apotheosis). There is writing in the album by a woman explaining “the album was purchased by my father, STEPHEN CRANE during the winter of 1863-1864, from an itinerant peddler, and included the military pictures in the front. It was given to me by my sister, Mary Fansler, Feb 18, 1935.” It is signed by Ellis W. Crane, without a date. Can you contact me to let me know if I have a rare album of original photos that have obvious historical value, or do I simply possess one of several reproductions? I would like to speak with you about this photo book. I live in Indianapolis, IN. My email address is dbutterf@me.com.

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