Charles Wilson

1856                Rooms over Mr. McCarty’s Store, Shreveport, Louisiana.

1856                Address Unknown, Little Rock, Arkansas.

1857                Rooms at Hebert’s Hall, Plaquemine, Louisiana.

1857                Address Unknown, Grosse Tete, Louisiana.

1858                Address Unknown, Shreveport, Louisiana.

Charles Wilson was recorded in fourteen announcements and five advertisements in three different newspapers.  The first announcement appeared on March 26, 1856 in The South-Western (Shreveport, Louisiana).  We take pleasure in calling the attention of our readers to Mr. Wilson’s advertisement, in another column.  His pictures are among the finest we have ever seen, and we would advise all who wish to obtain a superior likeness to call on this able artist ere his departure.

The first advertisement ran from March 26 to April 9, 1856 in The South-Western.  Ambrotypes.  The undersigned begs leave to inform the public that he has rooms over Mr. McCarty’s store, where he is ready at all times to take his beautiful and unparalleled new style of pictures.  For brilliancy and fineness they surpass Daguerreotypes, and unlike them, they are not reversed.  They can also be produced instantaneously, which is a great advantage in taking children and persons who cannot bear strong light.  They can never fade nor change as they are hermetically sealed and rendered impervious to air or dampness.  Chas. Wilson.  Shreveport, March 26, 1856.

The second announcement appeared on July 22, 1856 in The True Democrat (Little Rock, Arkansas.)  Ambrotype Pictures.—Prof. Wilson arrived here a few days since, and is prepared to execute pictures by this new and beautiful process which will combine that relief, distinction and life-like appearance that is truly wonderful.—His advertisement will be found in another column.

The second advertisement ran from July 22 to August 12, 1856 in The True Democrat.  Ambrotype Pictures.  The undersigned begs leave to inform the public that he has secured a gallery, in Little Rock, for a short time only, for the purpose of introducing Ambrotype Likenesses.

These likenesses have many advantages over the daguerreotype, among which are the following: they are more beautiful—they are more finely delineated—the faces have a softer tone, having greater relief and Can Never Fade!  They can be seen in any light, as they have none of the glare of the daguerreotype.  Their superiority above the latter is beyond all comparison, so much so that daguerreotypes are entirely abandoned wherever the ambrotype has been introduced.  Ladies and gentleman are respectfully invited to call and judge for themselves.

Persons residing in the country would do well to spend a day in Little Rock for the purpose of securing one of these never fading impressions.

Young men of enterprise should embrace this opportunity for learning the art—amount of capital required for a fair start, only $250, which with good management will be replaced in 15 or 20 days.  Chas. Wilson.

The third announcement appeared on January 10, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel (Plaquemine, Louisiana). 

Ambrotyping.  See the card of Messrs. Wilson & Steele, who have just arrived amongst us with a large and complete stock of materials, for practicing their art to the fullest extent.  Their pictures speak for themselves, making any remarks from us almost superfluous. Our citizens would be well pleased by visiting their rooms at Hebert’s Hall.

The third advertisement ran from January 10 to 24, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  A Card.  The undersigned respectfully informs the citizens of Bayou Plaquemine and vicinity that they have taken rooms at Hebert’s Hall, for the purpose of taking Ambrotype pictures.  They respectfully invite ladies and gentlemen to call and examine their specimens.  To those wishing pictures, they would say that they need not fear getting any inferior pictures palmed off on them, (a too common practice by men calling themselves artists, who, in reality, neither know or care anything about the art or its progress, further than to suit their own selfish purposes.)  Persons having pictures taken in the Eastern States or Europe are respectfully requested to produce them in our rooms for comparison.  We are prepared to challenge (superior pictures,) competition with any artist on either continent, as one of the party has experimented in the art from its earliest infancy, having operated with great success in the principal cities in Europe and America.  The patronage of those wishing Superior pictures is most respectfully solicited.  Call without delay as our stay is limited.  Wilson & Steele

The fourth announcement appeared on January 17, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  Ambrotypes.  Our readers are referred to the Card of Prof. Wilson, in our advertising columns.

It will be seen that he promises a great deal, but we are prepared to endorse it all, and will guarantee perfect satisfaction to the most fastidious.

We have examined his specimens, and can truly say that we have never yet seen any thing to equal, much less excel them.  They are beyond description, and must be seen to be fully appreciated.

Prof. Wilson is justly celebrated in his Art—has given universal satisfaction wherever he has been—and, as he will remain here but a few weeks, we bespeak for him the liberal patronage of our citizens, so eminently due to his merits.

Those who have old Daguerreotype pictures, had better destroy them at once, and get Ambrotypes, if they wish to “preserve the shadow ere the substance fade.”  Go and examine for yourselves.—Little Rock Gazette and Democrat.

We heartily endorse the above.  The Ambrotypes of Messrs. Wilson & Steele are unsurpassed in point of beauty and correctness of delineation.  Our citizens could not fail to spend a half hour delightfully at their rooms at Hebert’s Hall, admiring their numerous specimens; and once witnessing the faithful resemblance impressed upon the glass, we feel quite sure they would also feel inclined, as did their acquaintance, to transmit their features to posterity, for the benefit of the loved ones left behind, when the substance has faded away.  The above gentlemen will remain here but a short time, and the present opportunity should not be neglected.

The fifth announcement appeared on January 24, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  The Ambrotype Art.  A writer in the Journal of Commerce gives some interesting facts concerning the art of photography, from which it appears that but a short time ago there were one hundred and fifty daguerreotype rooms in New York city, employing on an average five persons; but now, by the introduction of new processes not easily attainable, many of the old operators are irretrievable ruined.  The finer texture and subdued coloring of the plate-glass ambrotype led to the relinquishment of the metallic plate, so that the unnatural glare of the latter was avoided, the effect produced being more like that of a fine engraving; nor is the image reversed, as in the daguerreotype.  Another advantage is that the impression is taken instantaneously, so that the features are not disturbed by fatigue or impatience.  The photograph is another process much in use, which approaches more to the old style of miniature painting, the pencil being employed to a considerable extent, though the lineament and general expression an conveyed by optical apparatus, as in the ambrotype, except that paper is substituted for plate glass.

The above beautiful art of Ambrotyping is now being practiced in our town, in the highest grade of its perfection, by Messrs. Wilson & Steele.  Their stay among us cannot be of much longer duration, we learn, and those who have not yet caused their features to be made imperishable, by sitting a few seconds before the camera of these gentlemen, should not lose the opportunity; for it may be years before another chance like this occurs for procuring portraits of such faithfulness and durability, and finished with such skill and beauty by the artist’s brush.

The sixth announcement appeared on January 31, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  Read the card of Wilson & Steel, Ambrotypists; their stay in Plaquemine is limited to but a few days longer.  Lose not this, probably, the last opportunity that will occur for a long time.

The fourth advertisement ran from January 31 to February 14 in the Southern Sentinel.  A Card.  For the liberal patronage extended to us—by the flattering manner in which our Pictures have been received in Plaquemine—we return our sincere acknowledgments, and would say, that whatever good reputation we may have had, has been the result of a constant endeavor to please our patrons, and the persevering study of our art for years.  With our extensive facilities and long experience in the business, we are prepared to warrant satisfaction.

Our stay will be limited to a few days longer, during which time we invite all who have not had Portraits taken by our never-fading Ambrotypic process, to call and procure at once so valuable a memento, upon which time can effect no change; and which, for beauty, correctness of delineation, and perfectibility in coloring, we challenge the world to produce superior pictures! Wilson & Steel.

The seventh announcement appeared on February 7, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  The Ambrotype Room of Messrs. Wilson & Steel seems to have been the most popular and fashionable resort for the past week, and to all appearances, likely to continue so for some time.  Their portraits appear to give universal satisfaction.  The gentlemen artists are very courteous and accommodating, and allow none to leave who extend their patronage without being wholly and entirely satisfied with their work.  Their stay here cannot extend to but a few days more, from what we understand, and we again advise procrastinators to hold back no longer.

The eighth announcement appeared on February 14, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  “What would I give to have her Portrait now!”—How many have made this exclamation! —made it, when unexpected Death has stepped in to deprive him or her who was the light of his life.  The expression is equally applicable to the female as to the male sex.—This reflection was brought to our mind while on a visit a day or two since to the Ambrotype Room of Prof. Wilson, who was engaged at the time in taking copies of Daguerreotypes of a young couple, by a sudden terrible disaster, had passed from earth to eternity.  As the Professor was showing the life-like copy to his visitors, we heard on exclaim, as a reply to a remark of a friend, “Alas! It is too late now—it is too late now!”  meaning, no doubt, some dear one who had left this earth without leaving a resemblance of her features behind.  Lose not the present opportunity, then, Prof. Wilson will probably leave after he has got through with his present engagements.

The ninth announcement appeared on February 21,1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  The Last Week.  It will be seen by advertisement of Prof. Wilson that in one more week his stay here will end, and those who have procrastinated thus far had better take advantage of the few days remaining, if they would secure a portrait of such perfectness and beauty as they will not have an opportunity to do, probably, for a long length of time.  Prof. Wilson has taken several hundred portraits of all sizes since he has been here, and has given universal satisfaction.

The fifth advertisement ran from February 21 to 28, 1847 in the Southern Sentinel.  A Card.—The undersigned, grateful for, and flattered by, the patronage which has been extended him as an Ambrotypist by the citizens of Plaquemine and vicinity, respectfully informs the public that his stay here will not exceed seven or eight days longer, and those who desire portraits, but have been holding back, had better pay him an early visit, so he would have time to take an excellent portrait and finish it properly with the brush.  Chas. Wilson.

The tenth announcement appeared on February 28, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  Prof. Chas. Wilson.  It is seldom that our country towns are visited by any but mountebanks in the various sciences they pretend to practice, or in the exhibitions they pretend to exhibit.  It is, then, as much our duty as our pleasure to record the fact, when a deserving person visits our town and fully performs all that he professes, whether in art, science or amusement.  That Prof. Wilson has done this, in the practice of his beautiful art, hundreds of delighted patrons in this town and vicinity will testify.  He came here unheralded and unknown, but a few days only elapsed before his great skill as an Ambrotypist was fully understood and appreciated.  There is no doubt that his portraits are of the very first class, as to faithfulness, beauty, and life-like appearance—in position, shade, coloring, &c. &c.  In fact, the art of coloring (or indeed painting) in connection with his Ambrotyping, is a separate art of itself, which he acquired after studying it in Paris and other cities in Europe, and in examining and studying good paintings in the many galleries of the fine arts to be seen in that country.

We have heard competent judges pronounce Prof. Wilson’s Ambrotypes to be the best they had ever seen—indeed, equal to photographs.  To prove this assertion, we refer to one particular portrait among many others of his work, to be seen in his gallery: it is that of a little daughter of a respected clergyman of this town.   She is taken full length—her apron hoisted up with one hand, and roses falling out of it on the ground—a beautiful idea—the impression conveyed that she has just returned from the garden, where she had been gathering flowers.  We are sure that this beautiful picture cannot be excelled by a photograph, and it is alone sufficient in itself to establish his reputation.

Prof. Wilson is now about to leave us, and we commend him to the good graces of our cotemporaries every where.  In his contemplated return to Europe and visit to the Holly Land, in the enthusiastic pursuit of his profession—to take views of celebrated localities, for the purpose of embellishing a work he has in preparation—we wish him continued health and uninterrupted success in the accomplishment of his praiseworthy undertaking.

Since the above was in type we understand that Prof. Wilson will not be enabled to leave here the ensuing week, so much has his business increased.

The eleventh announcement appeared on March 7, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  This gentleman, although he fully expected to have left us a week since, is still here, and as busily engaged in practicing his beautiful art, as he was the first or second week of his visit.  Of course he cannot leave while such a flood of patrons flock in upon him as has been characteristic of the past week—yet, as the time is approaching, as we understand, when he has definitely fixed upon for his departure for Europe, he cannot, under any circumstance, considering his pre-engagements, allow himself to be detained here or anywhere else but a very short time longer; it would therefore be well, if there are any yet in this vicinity who have determined upon taking advantage of his present visit (and without doubt his last) to have their features portrayed upon the faithful and fadeless glass, they should not procrastinate a day longer, for he may leave before our paper again goes to press.

The twelfth announcement appeared on March 14, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel. Prof. Wilson.—We understand that our friend Prof. Wilson (who, per force, is here still, and whose success here as an Ambrotypist is unprecedented), anticipates visiting the beautiful region of Grosse Tete, where, we are sure, his talents will be equally as well appreciated as they have been here.  Our friends up there will no doubt be happy to see him and his cameras in that vicinity.        

The thirteenth announcement appeared on May 9, 1857 in the Southern Sentinel.  Ambrotypes.  If it is not already publicly known, it will be in a few days, that Capt. Verbois, having made himself thoroughly acquainted with the art of Ambrotyping, under the tuition of that celebrated artist, Mr. Chas. Wilson, will commence the practice of his art forthwith on the opposite side of the river.  His specimens that we have seen are in no way inferior to those of his tutor, and we feel sure that he can give the highest satisfaction.  The Thibodaux Minerva thus speaks of the captain:

The fourteenth announcement appeared on January 27, 1858 in the Southern Sentinel.  Mons. Adriene, who was so popular here, is performing in New Orleans, and Wilson, the Ambrotypist, is performing in Shreveport, both seemingly dealing in magic, in their separate arts.

Charles Wilson is recorded in Pioneer Photographers from the Mississippi to the Continental Divide A Biographical Dictionary 1839-1865 as being active in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1856.  It is unknown if he is the same person recorded in Craig’s Daguerreian Registry as being active in New York City in 1860.

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