Jewels in Her Crown: Treasures of Columbia University Libraries Special Collections

Exhibition Themes > History of Science, Mathematics, Technology > 169. Martin M. Lawrence

169.  Martin M. Lawrence (1808-1859).  Portrait of John Watson Webb. Daguerreotype, (27.9 x 23 cm., sight size); (47.8 x 43 cm., with frame), 1850-1851. Office of Art Properties, Chandler Chemical Museum Collection

The Chandler Chemical Museum was established by Professor Charles F. Chandler in order to illustrate the things he discussed in his many lectures. He began to collect material for the museum almost immediately on his arrival at Columbia in the 1860s. For half a century, he bought rare and interesting exhibits of chemicals and of products of various chemical industries. Many times these were paid for out of his own pocket, and other materials were donated by the chemical industries. First located in Columbia's campus on 49th Street, the museum was eventually moved to the East End of Havemeyer Hall when the university was relocated to Morningside Heights. When the museum was dismantled in 1987, some of its collections were transferred to Art Properties. Chandler's papers are located in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library.

Daguerreotypes of this size, called mammoth plates, are rare. They were evidently difficult to make, and few are known to exist. John Watson Webb (1802-1884) was a journalist and diplomat. After an early career in the army, in 1827 he settled in New York City, where he became an editor and the owner of a number of newspapers. From 1861 to 1869, he was minister to Brazil.

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