Mystery Image - Civil War Lieutenant by a French Photographer

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Mild53

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This image has been a mystery for me for 20 years. It appears to be a Civil War era officer, but photographed by a French photographer!

Is this Civil War? And what is the insignia on the Kepi?

The image is in mat signed by a well-known French photographer - Arjalew from Dinard, France (North Coast across from Plymouth, England). Arjalew was active around the turn of the century in Dinard and Paris, and perhaps later. So this is most likely from the period 1890-1910.

The image is heavily retouched –almost painted. And based on the size (11" by 14" including the frame) it might be a CW image that was enlarged and enhanced later.

The uniform and Kepi look right for the Civil War and the young man has a Civil War style beard. The buttons appear to have rims and are not just domed – this might argue for post war.

The Kepi has a two row braiding which I have ben told might be for a captain. Of course the shoulder boards are for a Second Lieutenant. I haven’t a clue what the insignia on the cap is,

The frame is labeled with a Detroit, Michigan company that was in business from the Civil War through the turn of the century.

I have posted this to the Great War Forum and all suggest that its US Civil War, not French. One post suggested that it might be of a Frenchman serving as an officer in the US army. McClellan toured with the French Army before the CW and there were some French officers with him on the Peninsula campaign.

DSCN2273.jpg
 

Mild53

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Welcome to the forum Mild! Someone will be along to help you with the photo, which is lovely, by the way. If I may ask, how did you come by it?
I bought it more than 20 years ago at a flea market in Maine. I kept it all these years thinking that it was a nice composition - hoping that it was a CW officer. After researching the photographer and finding out he was French, the mystery grew.

Thanks for the welcome!
 
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TerryB

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An ancestor of mine spent time in Europe (Italy) after the war and either had a photo in uniform taken in Rome or had the artist reproduce one from the war. It was also retouched--something that came in during the 1870s. Your LT may also have taken the European tour and had his photo reproduced.
 

Mild53

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Best Answer

An ancestor of mine spent time in Europe (Italy) after the war and either had a photo in uniform taken in Rome or had the artist reproduce one from the war. It was also retouched--something that came in during the 1870s. Your LT may also have taken the European tour and had his photo reproduced.
Your response is very helpful. Its reasonable that he had a CDV with him on a trip to France and had it enlarged and retouched. It doesn't make sense that he would send an image to france to have it retouched when he could have had it done in the US. You say that retouching started in the 1870's? I've found an images from Arjalew from Paris from the time period 1910-1914 but nothing earlier. The image of the LT was done in Dinard - so perhaps this is an early work.

The insignia on the cap should provide a clue - But I've found nothing like it anywhere. Thanks for your suggestion.

-Curt
 
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TerryB

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Your response is very helpful. Its reasonable that he had a CDV with him on a trip to France and had it enlarged and retouched. It doesn't make sense that he would send an image to france to have it retouched when he could have had it done in the US. You say that retouching started in the 1870's? I've found an images from Arjalew from Paris from the time period 1910-1914 but nothing earlier. The image of the LT was done in Dinard - so perhaps this is an early work.

The insignia on the cap should provide a clue - But I've found nothing like it anywhere. Thanks for your suggestion.

-Curt
You'll come across the right info, so keep pluggin'. About the 1870s, yes I have several CDVs from the 1870s that show signs of retouching. I also have several with logos on the back that can be stylistically dated to the 1870s or later, but the age and clothing styles of the people in them lead me to believe that the CDVs were reproductions that these people had made in Memphis and other places a decade or two after they were taken. There are websites that get into the history of photography and it was on one of them that I read that retouching came in during the 1870s.
 

Mild53

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Well, I have done some research and I have reached a dead end for now. Here's what I am attaching to the back of the image.


"This is an image of a Civil War era officer, based on the shoulder bars a lieutenant in rank, probably reprinted after his death as a memorial. To create this kind of image an original image was copied photographically then heavily retouched, in this case by the French artist, Arjalew.

Arjalew was active in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s in Paris and Dinard, France, the location listed on the mat of this image. He was a commercial portrait photographer and also published outdoor views of Dinard in a book. Arjalew apparently also had quite a business selling postcards made from his artistically arranged photographs of children and women. How a Civil War era image came all the way to France for retouching is unknown.

The frame is labeled “Geo R. Angell Co, Fine Arts Detroit”. George Angel founded a fine arts business in 1863 and his son George, born in 1874 eventually took over. A biographical dictionary of Detroiters describes the younger George’s business as art and photography supplies. In 1905 the business was located in a new and prominent building, the Fine Arts Building, a six-story brick building facing Grand Circus Park designed by Louis Kamper, architect.

Based on the quality and the likely cost of the image and frame this officer was from a prominent family."
 

M E Wolf

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Wilber will be the best bet. He can blow up the image and do things to enhance it.

But, from my 15inch screen lap top -- the shoulder boards are early war "thicker" braiding--

The cap plate on the kepi is there--lacks detail due to my screen --and isn't blown up by Wilber, but it looks like cavalry sabers.

But, again - got to wait on Wilber to make up for my tiny screen. :wink:

M. E. Wolf
 
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