Modern albumen print from wet plate collodion negative
Image: 9.5 × 5.8 cm (3 3/4 × 2 5/16")
Sheet: 12.3 × 9.7 cm (4 13/16 × 3 13/16")
Mat: 35.6 × 28 cm (14 × 11")
National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; Frederick Hill Meserve Collection
A winsome actress who counted Abraham Lincoln, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow among her many admirers, Maggie Mitchell parlayed a single role into the mainstay of her career. After building a popular following during the 1850s with performances in regional theaters, she created a sensation in New Orleans in 1861 as the title character in Fanchon, the Cricket. A light, sentimental comedy adapted from a story by George Sand, the play showcased Mitchell, whose sprightly performance as an elf-like girl suspected of witchcraft captivated audiences and critics alike. When the production's southern tour was cut short by the outbreak of the Civil War, Mitchell returned to the North, where performances of Fanchon established her as a star. For the next twenty-five years, popular demand compelled her to return repeatedly to this signature role.