PORTRAIT OF SUPREME COURT JUSTICE RUFUS WILLIAM PECKHAM BY CELEBRATED PHOTOGRAPHER C. M. BELL

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bell 1 This cabinet card photograph features a distinguished and handsome gentleman. The man is well dressed. Is he wearing a judge’s robe? My hypotheses was that the gentleman was a judge or a politician. There is a name written on the reverse of the photograph. I could not decipher the name. Fortunately, a visitor to this blog, who I am most grateful to, was able to identify the name and provide some interesting information about the subject. The gentleman in this photo is Rufus William Peckham (1838-1909). Peckham served on the US Supreme Court between 1895 and 1909. Peckham’s legacy on the court included his support of big business practices (he was no friend of labor) and his lack of support for the civil rights of African Americans.   The photographer of this cabinet card is C. M. Bell. Charles Milton Bell (1848-1893) was an accomplished man. He was the youngest member of a family of photographers that operated a studio in Washington DC from around 1860 until 1874. He established his own studio on Pennsylvania Avenue in 1873. He quickly became one of the most successful photographers in the city. He was noted for his portraits of Native Americans as well as political figures and celebrities. His subjects included President Chester Arthur, Chief Yellow Bull, and Helen Keller. His photographs can be found in many prestigious institutions including The Library of Congress, Harvard University, Dartmouth University, and the Smithsonian. Bell is also known for his photographs of President Garfield’s assassin, Charles J. Guiteau. He was the only photographer authorized by Guiteau and the Government to take photographs of Guiteau and other people playing roles in his trial. Bell also took medical photographs relating to the assassination and assassin. To view other photographs in the cabinet card gallery by C. M. Bell, place his name in the search box.  (SOLD)

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Published in: on December 2, 2019 at 12:00 pm  Comments (2)  
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