“It’s interesting to look at photographs of Emma after Joseph’s death (there are none before). As she ages, one of her eyes becomes more and more droopy. Some have speculated that she had a stroke, but we have no record of that. I think she dealt with post-traumatic stress, and it was manifesting physically.”Emma Smith: Who Was Joseph Smith’s Wife? – FromtheDesk.org
The discussion here is not an attempt to use smoke and mirrors for the purpose of deception. First of all, no smoke obscures any images here! However, the mirror issue is a problem. In fact, A.S. Wolcott’s earliest American-made Daguerreotype camera employed a mirror instead of a lens. See: Laser-cut Wolcott camera (guyjbrown.com), but all early Daguerrean cameras, whether designed with a mirror or a lens, produced a mirror image of the subject on an exposed silvered copper plate. An image of Emma Hale Smith that is widely accepted as authentic is a carte-de-visite said to depict Emma and her last-born child David Hyrum Smith Emma Hale Smith – Biography (josephsmithpapers.org). But is that CDV a copy of a Daguerreotype?
Here are some difficulties. The image of Emma cradling a child in the Joseph Smith Papers Collection is cropped from a carte-de-visite purportedly made by copying a Daguerreotype made in ca1845 (David Hyrum Smith was born November 17, 1844). That uncropped but trimmed CDV shows a faint oval around the subjects suggesting it could have been in an oval brass surround typical of a Daguerreotype case. Daguerreotype images are chemically very stable but are highly susceptible to scratches, few of which are seen on the CDV in question. The trimming at the bottom of the CDV may have been done to fit in a frame with oval matting. A CDV of a Daguerreotype reproduces the original mirroring. However, CDV prints are made from a negative, and negatives can be easily flipped over to create a mirror image. A Daguerreotype, of course, is simultaneously a positive and a negative.
Two similar dual images are below. The first depicts the mirror image of the CDV on the left, and on the right depicts a cropped image from the original Daguerreotype 1368 in the Library of Congress proposed by the author to depict Emma Hale Smith in 1844 with her husband Joseph (see final image below).
Three features are noteworthy when comparing the paired image directly below: 1) The woman in the left image appears much older than the woman in the right image; 2) Both images show the hair parted slightly off center; 3) Both images demonstrate the same asymmetry of the eyes. The author (RBN) suggests that the child in the left image is Don Alvin Smith (May 17, 1871- September 9, 1904), the son of Alexander Hale Smith, who himself once was a partner in a photographic studio. Don Alvin Smith was the grandson of Joseph and Emma Hale Smith. The author postulates that the CDV image was captured from life in ca1871 by Emma and Joseph Smith’s son Alexander Hale Smith in Nauvoo. See: Romig, Ronald E. Alexander: Joseph & Emma Smith’s Far West Son. United States: John Whitmer Books, 2009. p22. Two versions of the CDV exist – were there more?
However, further below, you will see a triple image of Emma Smith that best fits together the eyes of the three. This suggests that the CDV is a “flipped” image, so it may have been taken originally as a Daguerreotype! But the negative of the CDV may have been flipped, which seems more likely. Daguerreotype images are increasingly rare after the mid-1850s. Among Alexander Smith’s many varied pursuits was photography.
For the Bayesian reader, the prior probability that a baby is being held on the left is said to be 66.3%. See: The Psychological Reason 2/3 of People Cradle Babies On The Left – FamilyEducation