John Barritt Melson (1811-1898), after 1850
Unknown (British - mid-19th century)
30.6 x 25.5 cm
Gift of William John Melson, Barbara Elizabeth Melson Estes and families in memory of Alfred John Wallace Melson, 2004
National Gallery of Canada (no. 41548)
portrait, single, male; bust portrait, leaning head on arm
John Barritt Melson was a highly esteemed citizen of Birmingham known for his intellect, eloquence, and compassion. A physician, lecturer, city magistrate, and preacher, Melson took an early interest in photography through encounters with William Henry Fox Talbot and an enigmatic French photographer, M. de Ste Croix, who came to Birmingham to demonstrate the daguerreotype. This exquisite, unusually large half-length portrait of Melson, known as a mammoth daguerreotype, was donated to the National Gallery by Melson's Canadian descendents. The handsome frame, which had been badly damaged over time, has been meticulously restored.