Brain-injury survivor Phineas Gage (1823–1860):
discovered a portrait of the younger Gage?
Are these portraits of the same person? At a first look you might not think so. But at a second sight, considering several matching characteristics between the two photographs, your impression might change: there is a striking similarity!
The nose of the 'younger' man appears longer. Hypothesis: The severe injuries may have changed the skull structure and consequently the face proportions. "In the past there were encountered late posttraumatic vertical contracture of the middle face", in particular a foreshortening of the nose.
(Mund-Kiefer-Gesichtschirurgie / hrsg. von Hans-Henning Horch. - 4., vollst. überarb. Aufl.- München : Urban & Fischer, 2007)
|Figure A: Laterally reversed photograph of daguerreotype
from the collection of Jack and Beverly Wilgus
This portrait is believed to be the only known image of Phineas Gage
Figure B: Unreversed photograph of daguerreotype of unknown man
by William Bell (1830-1910)
"Daguerreotype of unidentified man with ptosis (drooping of an eyelid) by William Bell, taken in 1852. Bell was the Army Medical Museum's main photographer during the Civil War".
Note: Hand-colored and retouched daguerreotype. - The medical diagnosis "ptosis" attributed to this 1852 portrait explains nothing about the cause (Phineas' physician, J.M. Harlow, relates in April 1849 the same diagnosis: ""Ptosis [drooping] of the left eyelid..."). - W. Bell became the Army Medical Museum's main photographer not before 1861, where he took many photographs of wounded soldiers. Therefore his 1852 portrait has nothing to do with is later activity as the Army Medical Museum's main photographer (Bell's activity as a daguerreotypist began in 1848. He was listed in Philadelphia, Pa., 1852-1860. In fact this daguerreotype is signed on the red fabric "W. Bell Jenny Lind Gallery 86 N. Second St. Phila").
If the year 1852 is correct, the fig. B could have been taken eight years before fig. A., which may show Gage in his later years. This would explain the younger aspect. After the accident Gage continued to work in various places like New England, Chile and California as a long-distance stagecoach driver or a farmer. Working in all-weather conditions has inevitably matured his face in a few years.
|fig. A + B overlaid|
"The mind sees what he wants to see...".
Indeed, Harvard hasn't officially confirmed the daguerreotype's authenticity.
Anyway, the main purpose of this small 'study' is to indicate whether the two portraits represent the same or different individuals. Now it's on you to decide if figure B may be attributed to the younger Phineas Gage.
Your opinion is important.
Please e-mail to Roberto Casagrande, Lugano (Switzerland)
Wikipedia - Phineas Gage
Phineas Gage Information Page
"Meet Phineas Gage"
See also my unique American daguerreotype
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