Forgotten Marriage:
The Painted Tintype & The Decorative Frame
A Lost Chapter in American Portraiture


ONCE IN AWHILE, an historian takes up a neglected aspect of the field, blows off the dust, and makes it gleam with the light of insight. In Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype & The Decorative Frame, 1860-1910… Stanley B. Bums, M.D. turns what might appear to be a remote corner of photographic history into a rich mother lode of inquiry. This study provides the first comprehensive look at the distinctively North American pictures that represent the transition between the traditional painted portrait and the formal studio photographic portraiture of this century. Dr. Bums … supports a number of important points in his well-organized and highly readable text. First, these are significant artifacts, from which we can learn much about U.S. history, photography's impact on U.S. culture, and photography's effect on the economy of patron art during that period. Second, these works were invariably conceived and sold as framed images. To fully understand their nature as both visual images and crafted objects, they must be studied in conjunction with their frames. Third, these are noteworthy mixed-media works, meriting attention in their own right as early experiments in combining photographic seeing with the drawn or painted representation of people, places and things and the assemblage effects that various styles of framing allowed. In addition to his provocative arguments and sensible conclusions, Dr. Bums presents a wealth of information invaluable to other historians, as well as to collectors, curators and dealers… this desktop-published volume is… of the highest quality. An exemplary project.

A.D. Coleman, Photography in New York

FOUND! SO Years of American Folk Art Portraits In Forgotten Marriage: The Painted Tintype & The Decorative Frame, 1860-1910, is the proof that the "lost chapter in American art" has been found. "The Lost Final Stage" Says Burns: "This is the lost final stage of American folk portraiture - the extension of folk portraiture to the working class." In his foreword to the book, Gerard C. Wertkin, Director of the Museum of American Folk Art adds: "American vernacular portraits may have had its beginnings in the work of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century journeyman painters, but it had its fullest expression in workrooms and studios of the photographers whose stories are told for the first time in this book."


Carefully researched and beautifully designed by Burns… this work is a most welcome addition to the literature. Highly recommended for photography and American history collections in public and academic libraries.

Library Journal
, June 1995

THE LATEST photo-historical topic from Dr. Stanley B. Burns is, according to the text, a "culmination of fourteen years of research into the relationship of folk art and photography." Always enthusiastic in his desire to open up "the uncharted regions of photographic history," Dr. Burns applies his skills as a scientist and researcher to focus on what he feels is a significant and heretofore unaddressed section of photographic history: the ensemble of the painted tintype and its frame.

Grant Dinsmore, The Daguerreian Society Newsletter

"Forgotten Marriage… is said to be the first comprehensive overview of painted tintypes and their frames in America, which must make it the first in the world as tintypes were never very popular anywhere else… These tintype portraits… sport frames of great complexity… most were designed specifically for photographs rather than paintings, which makes them a virtually unstudied branch of the decorative arts."

Vicki Goldberg, The New York Times

In the tradition of other collector/scholars before him, Dr. Burns has enlivened the debate about the nature of folk and vernacular culture, while contributing new insights and new information to the filed. Even more importantly, through the pages of this book and the exhibition it is intended to document, he has reclaimed a forgotten aspect of our history and restored another lost part of the American heritage to its rightful place in our shared consciousness. For that surely, he deserves our thanks.

Gerard C. Wertkin Director, Museum of American Folk Art