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67 2. Lutterodt Family Studios and the Changing Face of Early Portrait Photographs from the Gold Coast E R I N H A N E Y Photography’s particular histories in West Africa suggest that the medium has been profoundly shaped by subsequent viewers and owners who have altered and adapted photographs for personal use.1 My own research has been rooted in the frameworksoffamilycollectionsinAccraandCapeCoast,Ghana(formerlyGold Coast), where photography was taken up as a momentous form of portraiture during the mid-nineteenth century. Though historically photographers’ work on the African continent has encompassed a range of subjects, it is portraiture which is by far the most prevalent and enduring subject in these private and civic collections . Apparently, too, it is within portraiture that creative audiences have most often intervened. As is the case in many parts of West Africa, photographic portraiture here has from its inception been a technology of multiples layered with nonphotographic techniques in other media. Thus those I call this photography’s “creative audiences” include, among others, the generations of owners and viewers who have conserved, rephotographed, labeled, inscribed, painted, circulated, often secreted away, and occasionally destroyed portraits. These interventions amount to significant formal and conceptual interventions on the material support , and they bear out new questions as to what, and who, comprises a portrait photograph.So, photography’s useful reproducibility is aligned with the qualities of an image’s mutability and adjustability, and only part of the time were these adjustments made by photographers. Further, I suggest that this photography in Erin Haney 68 Ghana, as is probably true in many other places, has long been a performative and a socially expansive category. Performances unfolded in the setting-up of a portrait , and continued as a series of viewings and interventions made by subsequent audiences and owners. Each act of making and remaking a photograph is a generation , and a photograph’s configuration entails the scope of past and presumed future audiences. This essay considers, through a series of vignettes, the material existence of the nineteenth and early twentieth century photographic record in Ghana and elsewhere, and, as importantly, the absences and gaps of photographs as a crucial part of the larger story. I also trace the milieu of the Lutterodt family of Accra, one of the most prominent dynasties of photographers in West Africa. Today the Lutterodt family’s material photographic record is elusive and has been heavily impacted by audience use, by the circulation of their images, and by the very transience and mobility of their studios that once operated along the West African coastline. Yet the ubiquity and longevity of Lutterodt studios speaks to their power to conduct, transfer, and formulate portrait genres in different African cities ,partofalargerimagehistorythatscholarsarejustbeginningtopiecetogether. All of these concerns suggest a reconsideration of historical photography’s conventional identifications, thereby upsetting presumptions about historicity, notions about photographic iterations, and assumed demarcations between artists , subjects, owners, and audiences. Early Efforts along the Coast In West African cosmopolitan centers, portraiture was initially the prerogative of wealthy patrons. The earliest mention of photography on the Gold Coast dates to 1840, when the French captain Louis Édouard Bouët-Willaumez made a likeness of Elmina and its trading fort at the house of a local merchant.2 Seven years later, the daguerreotypist Heer Sorin was patronized by a number of Elmina residents while the Dutch governor observed his techniques so closely that he recorded exposure times for the skin tones of African, mixed-race, and European sitters.3 In 1857, Scottish missionary Daniel West seemed surprised at local demand. After a woman he photographed dropped the daguerreotype portrait he had given her, “she came to me, and said that she would give me any money Lutterodt Family Studios 69 if I would take another. So it appears I might do any amount of business in this line.”4 When West showed Quaccoe Attah, the King of Cape Coast, his likeness on glass, Attah declared that he would like an oil painting made from the image, which would have been better suited to display in his palace.5 A lithograph based on the daguerreotype is all that survives of Attah’s portrait. Despite growing evidence of early photographers’ intensive and wide-ranging travel, photographs in West Africa survive only rarely from the middle of the nineteenth century. Hendrik Bartel’s descendants in Ghana keep his portrait, a version that is probably a half-tone print which itself might have been based on an 1847 Sorin...


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