Francis Henry Grice’s Daguerrean Views

Reverend Augustus Hammond Conant and Betsey Kelsey Conant circa 1844
Left: cropped and reversed from [unidentified man and woman, three-quarters length portrait, seated]
• Creator(s): Grice, F. (Francis), photographer
• Date Created/Published: [ca. 1855] {But is it really 1844?}
• Medium: 1 photograph: quarter-plate daguerreotype.
• Reproduction Number: LC-USZC4-10721 (color film copy transparency)
• Rights Advisory: No known restrictions on publication.
• Access Advisory: Original served by appointment only.
• Call Number: DAG no. 1368
• Repository: Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540
USA

What began as an investigation into the uppermost image led to a search for further details about the creator of that image, F. Grice. The Grice and Conant families shared a cause: the abolition of slavery. Francis Henry Grice was a polymath whose path seemed to often cross that of the Mormons in Missouri, Illinois, and Utah. Image 1368 in the Grice Collection at the U.S. Library of Congress might depict one such intersection. The narrative here presented cannot pass for historiography. Still, few other forms of primary sources possess the fidelity of a daguerreotype, for such an original image is a true one of a kind. The right image above is likely a painting based upon the left daguerreotype taken by Francis Grice in Lucian Foster’s studio in mid-June 1844. “Proof” of the painting’s subject is provided by the fact that the man’s awkwardly depicted right hand is actually his wife’s left hand that was copied and “transplanted” from the same daguerreotype. A total of seventy-nine daguerreotypes reside in the LOC Grice Collection. Twenty-four of them have not been digitalized. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what Grice and Conant stories are yet to be told?

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2 thoughts on “Francis Henry Grice’s Daguerrean Views

  1. Hi Tom
    Circumstantial evidence suggests that Francis Grice may have accompanied Lucian Foster from NYC to Nauvoo in the Spring of 1844. Hezekiah Grice, the father of Francis, had connections in NYC and Philadelphia. Foster had been the President of the nascent NYC Mormon group. He arrived in Nauvoo with his DAG equipment and supplies on April 27, 1844. But he left 6-8 weeks later to return east to promote Joseph Smith’s Presidential campaign. Woodruff’s Diaries seem to confirm this. Smith was murdered on June 27, 1844. Grice had learned daguerreotyping from a Philadelphia artist cousin in Port-au-Prince, who had, in turn, studied with Daguerre in Paris. How long Grice remained in Nauvoo, I have not learned.
    Rod

    Like

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