Portrait of Sarah Taintor Waterman
The invention of photography made portraits affordable for most people for the first time in history. One of the first and most successful daguerreotypists to practice this early form of photography in Connecticut was Augustus Washington, who opened a studio in Hartford in 1846. Born a free African American who struggled to obtain an education, Washington was active in the anti-slavery movement and photographed radical abolitionist John Brown before emigrating to Liberia as part of the colonization movement in 1853.
Augustus Washington advertised prices ranging from 50¢ to $10 (depending on the photograph size and the case selected) and a ladies’ dressing room with a female attendant, marketing his services to a broad segment of the population, including Hartford’s elite. Sarah Taintor Waterman (pictured above), a niece of Aetna Insurance Company founder Eliphalet Bulkeley, married a sea captain and was shipwrecked with him off the coast of China, where they were likely murdered by pirates.