Two Views of a Child
A pair of sixth and ninth plate daguerreotypes of an uneasy child, each with the same red-and-blue hand-colored cloth behind him. Anonymous American circa 1855. The sixth plate housed in a leather half-case, the ninth plate in full pressed-paper case.
Interesting questions arise as to these images, obviously taken one-after-the-other in a single photographic session. Is the ninth plate a cut-down sixth plate, and if so why was it cut down? If not, why did the photographer switch plate sizes in the middle of a photographic session? Probably not to save money, as both plates are richly colored in blue, red and gilt, and such coloring we'd suppose cost extra.
While the cloth behind child gives scope to coloring and enlivens the design, it is also possible that it was placed over baby's chair to allow a hidden minder to grasp or calm the child during the photo session. If so, it might provide a motive for the cut-down ninth plate, if the full plate had revealed protruding bits of the preferably hidden minder.
In any event the result is two very cute images.