Fonsie Mealy Auctioneers

The Old Cinema,
Chatsworth Street,
Castlecomer,
Co. Killkenny,
R95 XV05,
Ireland.

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Lot 304/0309

SOLD Hammer price: €5600, Estimate: €7000-11000

Draper (Professor Henry) M.D., A very large and extremely rare early original Photograph of the Moon, approx. 53cms x 42cms (21″ x 16 1/2″) bearing a printed label “Photograph of the Moon, taken by Prof. Henry Draper, M.D., with a silvered glass Telescope, Fifteen and a Half Inches Aperture [With address] Hastings N.Y., September 3rd 1863”. The mount also bears a m/ss dedication “The Earl of Rosse, with Dr. Draper’s Respects, University of New York.The image has some centre tears (some with loss) the entire was folded and shows centre crease, while the outer chocolate coloured rim shows some loss, the main image of the Moon is very good. Recent frame, as a photograph, w.a.f. (1)Henry Draper (1837-1882), Professor of Medicine at New York University, was a prominent physician, amateur scientist, and pioneer of astronomical photography. He inherited his interests, skills and energy from his father, Lancashire-born John William Draper (1811-1882), professor of chemistry at NYU, who improved on Daguerre’s process to produce some of the earliest photographs of the human face, and in March 1840 made the first photograph of the face of the Moon. His mother, n‚e Antonia Gardner, was daughter of the personal physician to King John VI of Portugal, Emperor of Brazil.As a boy, Henry assisted his father in his chemical and astronomical work. Having completed his medical thesis in 1857, he was still too young to be awarded a degree, so he spent a year abroad, and his travels brought him to Birr Castle, where the 3rd Earl of Rosse had erected what was then the world’s largest telescope, the 72-inch “Leviathan” reflector. He must have been inspired by what he saw at Birr and learned of the Earl’s discoveries, for he returned home imbued with a determination to exploit photography for astronomical purposes, and even built his own observatory on his father’s estate at Hastings-on-Hudson. Meanwhile, he continued his medical career, becoming professor and dean of medicine at NYU.In 1873 he resigned his professorship in order to devote himself to original research. He received numerous awards for his discoveries. After his death from pleurisy at the early age of forty-five, his work was continued by his widow, who funded the Henry Draper Medal in his honour. His telescope is now in the Nicolas Copernicus University in Poland.This photograph is authenticated by the inscription from Draper to the Earl of Rosse and comes from the collection of Otto Boediker, who was the astronomer in charge of Rosse’s observatory at Birr Castle, c. 1887 – 1916.

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