S. Rea

1850                23 4th Street, Cincinnati, Ohio.

1851                Rooms in Sharpe & Yandee’s Building, Indianapolis, Indiana.

1852                Address Unknown, Indianapolis, Indiana.

S. Rea (probably Sampson Rea) was recorded in one advertisement and five announcements.  The advertisement ran from January 15 to February 14, 1850 in the  Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Cincinnati, Ohio).  Rea’s National Daguerreotype Gallery, No. 23 4th st., between Main and Sycamore.  Mr. Rea respectfully informs his patrons and the public generally, that he has recently at a very heavy expense, remodeled and re-fitted his splendid suit of Daguerreotype rooms; in doing which he has ad an eye specially to the comfort and accommodation of the ladies, and he pledges himself that neither pains nor expense shall be spared on his part to render his gallery one of the most fashionable and genteel resorts in the city.

Those calling on Mr. R. for pictures, either single or in groups, are positively assured that they shall have entire satisfaction in every sense of the word, or no charge.

Pictures taken of all sizes, and at all prices, the price ranging according to size and put up in every variety of style.

Hours for operating from 9 o’clock A. M., to 4 o’clock P. M., without regard to weather.

The five announcements were recorded in the Indiana State Sentinel (Indianapolis, Indiana).  The first appeared on February 6.  Mr. Rae’s Portrait Gallery of members of the convention is rapidly filling up.  Amongst the portraits already taken, we observe those of many of the most prominent members of the convention.  These likenesses are perfect, and we have never seen them equaled as works of art.  When completed, the picture will be a beautiful and enduring specimen of the perfection to which the delicate art of Daguerreotyping has been brought by an Indiana artist, and will be alike creditable to the State and honorable Mr. Rae.

Mr. Rea proposes to get up a similar picture of the members of the Senate, to be deposited with this one in the State Library as the property of the State.  If the Senators will call at his rooms and examine his pictures, we are sure they will all willingly do their part towards getting up the picture.

The second announcement appeared on June 12, 1851.  Mr. Rea, the Daguerrean Artist, has removed to the State Library his portraits of fifty members of the Convention.  Taken altogether they are the best specimens we ever witnessed of the perfection to which the beautiful art, originated by Daguerre, has arrived.  Each portrait is a perfect likeness, and shows the features of the face, the hair on the head and each freckle or mole, which marked the original, with a distinctness and truth to nature which could be attained by no other process, and which we never saw before, even in a Daguerreotype.  The gift is an enduring monument of Mr. Rea’s skill and proficiency as an artist.

The following are the names of the gentlemen whose portraits are embraced in Mr. Rea’s Collection: 

T. W. Gibson, Robert Dale Owen, W. F. Sherrod, A. P. Hovey, Geo. W. Carr, W. H. English, Secretary, Daniel Kelso, H. P. Biddle, H. Allen, W. M. Dunn, W. S. Holman, W. R. Haddon, J. B. Foley, Smith Jones, S. P. Mooney, B. F. Brookbank, J. S. Newman, T. A. Hendricks, Jonathan Harbolt, J. P. Chapman, D. Reed, James Lockhart, J. E. Blythe, H. Prather, James Elliott, Jefferson Helm, H. E. Carter, Allen Hamilton, T. I. Bourne, J. F. Carr, W. March, J. B. Niles, R. H. Milroy, C. W. Barbour, M. G. Bright, H. P. Thornton, J. W. Borden, C. C. Nave, J. L. Spann, J. G. Read, J. Rariden, P. M. Kent, D. Kilgore, E. D. Taylor, N. B. Hawkins, O. P. Badger, S. Hall, M. A. Duzan, J. P. Dunn.  **Only 49 names appeared in the article.

The third announcement appeared on October 9, 1851.  “Here Life Seems Speaking From A Hundred Frames.”—The new and beautiful Daguerreotype Rooms of Mr. S. Rea are completed, and are now open for the reception of visitors.  The quality of Mr. Rea’s pictures has always been greatly admired, but since he has introduced the improvement of his new sky-light, and side-lights, he is enabled to give a much better finish to Daguerreotypes, and to produce a more perfect picture than heretofore.  By his new arrangement of light, the difficulty heretofore experienced in taking the likenesses of children, aged persons, and those with light-colored or weak eyes, has been removed, and an impression is taken on the plate in a very short space of time.  We have seen several of his pictures taken by the new light, and for beautiful gradation of light and shade, clearness in the image, and the softness of tone, we have never seen them equaled.

The Metropolitan Gallery consists of two large rooms, in Sharpe & Yandee’s building.  One is used for operating, and the other as the gallery and reception room.  The latter is tastefully and splendidly furnished, the pictures being arranged on each side of the room, and also in the frame-work of a circular moveable case, placed on a pedestal in the centre of the room.  His beautiful assortment of fine gold lockets and breastpins for miniatures, occupy a portion of this case.

Mr. Rea has secured the services of Mr. Charles W. Purcell, of Baltimore, an experienced operator, and he pledges himself that not a picture shall leave his establishment that does not give entire satisfaction.

The fourth announcement appeared on October 28, 1852.  The State Fair.  It is supposed that fifty thousand persons visited the Fair yesterday….

S. Rea, of this city, exhibited in two large frames, Daguerreotypes of the members of the last Senate and House, of this State.  Also, likenesses of many of the young ladies of this city—beautiful, of course, or they would not have been likenesses.  These Daguerreotypes were executed in Rea’s best style, which is equivalent to saying that they cannot be excelled in the world.

Mr. Weibling, from Connersville, also exhibits some excellent Daguerreotypes.  Many of his pictures very nearly, if not quite, equaled Rea’s, and were highly creditable productions.

The fifth announcement appeared on November 4, 1852.  Premiums Awarded at the First Annual State Fair of Indiana, 1852, as Reported by the Several Committees….Manufactured Articles….

Daguerrean Art, four frames, from the studio of S. Rea, Indianapolis.  The crowd of admiring spectators who constantly surrounded these pictures, attested the approbation of the public.  They were justly regarded as admirable specimens of the art, in style of finish, posture, coloring, and design.  They are worthy the general commendation they received.  Premium $10 and diploma.

Daguerreotypes, a case from W. Weibling, of Connersville, containing several creditable portraits, and exhibiting a good degree of taste and skill in the artist.  $2 and diploma.

Fancy Label, attached to Rea’s Daguerrean collection, from the same.  The committee pronounce them creditable specimens of the art.

S. (Sampson) Rea is recorded in other photographic directories (Ohio Photographers 1839-1900 and Craig’s Daguerreian Registry.)  Further research is needed on Rea, I have only scratched the surface of the Ohio and Indiana newspapers, but preliminary research suggests that they are the same person.  

Several questions remain unanswered, does Rea have a connection with the Plumbe Gallery in Cincinnati?  Recorded in the Cincinnati newspaper the gallery is referred to as “Rea’s National Daguerreotype Gallery”  the similarity to “Plumbe National Daguerreian Gallery” comes to mind.

In the same advertisement dated January 15, 1850 he refers to his patrons and the public generally.  This suggest that he may have been operating earlier than January 15, 1850.

In the third announcement dated October 9, 1851 states that “Mr. Rea has secured the services of Mr. Charles W. Purcell, of Baltimore” to work with/for him.  While in Baltimore he did work for Plumbe.  Is this another connection to Plumbe, or just is it just coincidence?

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