Antoine Sonrel

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Antoine Sonrel (died 1879) was an illustrator, engraver, and photographer in Switzerland and Boston, Massachusetts, in the 19th century. He moved from Neuchâtel to the United States around the late 1840s, and was affiliated with Louis Agassiz throughout his career.[nb 1] As a photographer he created numerous carte de visite portraits in the 1860s and 1870s; subjects included his friend Agassiz, Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Abbott Lawrence Rotch, and sculptor Anne Whitney.[nb 2]

Biography[edit]

Around the 1830s in Neuchâtel, Sonrel began creating scientific illustrations for Louis Agassiz. "Draftsmen of superior talent, trained ... to the greatest accuracy — Weber, Dinkel, and Sonrel — were constantly in [Agassiz's] employ at a regular salary. ... At the suggestion of Agassiz an extensive lithographic establishment was created in Neuchatel."[4] Agassiz wrote in 1857: "I esteem myself happy to have been able to secure the continued assistance of my old friend, Mr. A. Sonrel, in drawing the zoological figures of my work. More than twenty years ago, he began to make illustrations for my European works ; and ever since he has been engaged, with short interruptions, in executing drawings for me."[5]

Portrait by Sonrel of C. K. Dillaway with Hanabusa Kotaro, Hiraga Isasaburo, Tsuge Zengo, and Aoki Yoshihira, 19th century (Smithsonian)[nb 3]
Portrait by Sonrel of C. K. Dillaway with Hanabusa Kotaro, Hiraga Isasaburo, Tsuge Zengo, and Aoki Yoshihira, 19th century (Museum of Fine Arts, Boston)

In the United States, Sonrel lived in Boston on Acorn Street in Beacon Hill (c. 1850),[6] Tremont Street (c. 1873),[7] and in Woburn, Massachusetts (c. 1852-1874). He kept a studio in Boston on School Street (c. 1860s)[8][9] and Washington Street (c. 1871-1874).[7][10][11] Sonrel exhibited lithographs in the 1851 World's Fair in London[1][12] and in the 1853 exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association.[13]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Sometimes Sonrel's name appears (incorrectly) as "Antoine Sourel",[1] "August Sonrel,"[2] "Auguste Sonrel" or "Antoine Sowrel."[3]
  2. ^ Photos by Sonrel reside in the collections of the Massachusetts Historical Society, Smithsonian, Boston Athenaeum, and Harvard University.
  3. ^ For more information on Dillaway, see: "Dillaway, Charles K. (Charles Knapp) 1804-1889", WorldCat 

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b "Great Industrial Exhibition", Pittsfield Sun (Massachusetts), April 10, 1851 
  2. ^ David Starr Jordan (August 1923), "Spencer Fullerton Baird and the United States Fish Commission", Scientific Monthly 17 (2) 
  3. ^ Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations, 1851: Official Descriptive and Illustrated Catalogue 3. London. 1851. p. 1463. 
  4. ^ Guyot (1878, 1886), "Memoir of Louis Agassiz, 1807-1873", Biographical Memoirs (National Academy of Sciences) 
  5. ^ Louis Agassiz (1862). Contributions to the Natural Nistory of the United States of America. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 
  6. ^ Boston Directory. 1850. 
  7. ^ a b Boston Directory. 1873. 
  8. ^ Boston Commercial Directory. 1869. 
  9. ^ Illuminated and Illustrated Business Directory of Boston for 1870. 
  10. ^ Boston Almanac. 1871. 
  11. ^ Woburn Directory. Massachusetts. 1874. 
  12. ^ Official Catalogue of the Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All Nations. London. 1851. p. 191. 
  13. ^ 7th Exhibition of the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association. Boston: Damrell & Moore. 1853. 

Further reading[edit]

Works illustrated by Sonrel[edit]

  • Natural History Illustrations, Smithsonian Publications (671), Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1889, "Prepared under the direction of Louis Agassiz. 1849. The anatomy of Astrangia danae. Six lithographs from drawings by A. Sonrel. Explanation of plates by J. Walter Fewkes" 
  • Natural History Illustrations, Smithsonian Publications (672), Washington: Smithsonian Institution, 1889, "Prepared under the direction of Louis Agassiz and Spencer F. Baird. 1849. Six species of North American fresh-water fishes. Six lithographs from drawings by A. Sonrel" 
  • Louis Agassiz; James Elliot Cabot (1850), Lake Superior, Boston: Gould, Kendall and Lincoln  ("Elegantly illustrated" with images by Cabot and Sonrel. "The Landscape Illustrations are taken from sketches made on the spot, by Mr. Cabot. Those of the Second Part were drawn and lithographed by Mr. Sonrel, a Swiss artist of much distinction in this branch, and formerly employed by Prof. Agassiz at Neuchatel, but now resident in this country.")
  • Boston Journal of Natural History, 1850s.
  • Louis Agassiz (1857). Contributions to the Natural History of the United States of America. Boston: Little, Brown and Co. 
  • Thaddeus William Harris (1862). A Treatise on Some of the Insects Injurious to Vegetation. New York: Orange Judd and Company. 

About Sonrel[edit]

  • Jules Marcou (1895). Life, Letters, and Works of Louis Agassiz. NY: Macmillan and Co. 
  • David Karel (1992). Dictionnaire des artistes de langue française en Amérique du Nord: peintres, sculpteurs, dessinateurs, graveurs, photographes, et orfèvres (in French). Quebec: Presses Université Laval. ISBN 2763772358. 
  • Christoph Irmscher (2009). "Wonderful Entanglements: Louis Agassiz, Antoine Sonrel, and the Challenge of the Medusa". A Keener Perception: Ecocritical Studies in American Art History. Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press. ISBN 9780817316686. 

External links[edit]

Image gallery[edit]

Works by Sonrel