A CDV of C.T. Parsloe Jr., a 19th century American comic actor. The pencil script on the bottom says “Important if true”.
I love this image because it shows the power of photography to capture a fleeting moment of expression. This almost feels like it could be a still frame from a movie, unlike so much mid-19th century portrait photography where people are formally posed in elegant albeit highly conventional poses. It’s an image like this that shows Brady’s genius as a photographer – he was able, with 19th century wet-plate technology, to capture the essence of physical comedy. And you can still see the clamp stand behind Mr. Parsloe, which is a real testament to his power of posing, that he could do something so seemingly spontaneous while being physically restrained by the clamp!
I can’t find a lot of bio data on Mr. Parsloe, but he was born in 1836 in New York, and died in 1898, according to this page on the University of Washington’s digital collections archive – U.Wash. Digital Archive
I just discovered the University of Washington’s archive of photos of 19th century actors – it’s a resource I will be returning to to look up more CDV images as I keep collecting.