Frederick August Wenderoth

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Biography of Frederick August Wenderoth ( 1819-1884 )

Frederick August Wenderoth was born in 1819 in Kassel, Germany. The son of painter Carl Wenderoth, he received an artistic education at an early age and became an accomplished sketch artist. He continued his formal instruction under the tutelage of Professor Frederick Mueller at Hesse Kassel's Academy of Fine Arts. By age 18, the young man was a popular art teacher of young maidens at the court of Hesse Kassel, where his mother had long served as a lady-in- waiting. In 1846, Wenderoth began studying in Paris with renowned portrait painter Leon Cogniet until the French Revolution intervened two years' later. He resumed an old Kassel Academy acquaintanceship with painter Charles Christian Nahl and his family. When the Nahls relocated from Paris to New York, Wenderoth accompanied them. 

Settling in Brooklyn, Frederick Wenderoth exhibited paintings at the American Art Union, but in 1851, decided to travel to San Francisco for what turned out to be a futile search for gold. However, he became captivated by the miners, and sketched several drawings from which he made daguerreotypes. By year's end, he and his friend Nahl went into business in Sacramento, where they specialized in portraits, wood engravings, and lithography. After sailing to Australia, Wenderoth officially became a member of the Nahl family by marrying his friend Charles's half sister Laura. In 1857, the couple settled permanently in Philadelphia, but their happiness was short-lived when the young lady and her newborn baby died the following year. The grieving widower found solace in his work, finding lucrative and prestigious employment as a daguerreotypist and illustrator for Harper's Weekly. Many of his paintings, such as the "Battle of Gettysburg," became successful photographic reproductions. 

Mr. Wenderoth's first love was painting, but he also immersed himself in exhaustive photographic experimentation. He developed the ivorytype portraiture and is credited with inventing the photozincographic process, in which after capturing an image in ink, it would be transferred to zinc, from which a plate would be made. He also invented the 'Argento- picture,' which was an interesting marriage of daguerreotype and paper photograph, in which a printed carbon print is subsequently mounted on a metal plate, producing visually attractive effects. The process could be completed within a half hour and readied for immediate delivery as opposed to the conventional daguerreotype process, which could take a week or more to complete. Another attractive feature was that it could generate an infinite number of productions. 

Painter, daguerreotypist, and inventor Frederick Wenderoth died of tuberculosis in Philadelphia in 1884. 

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