Elite daguerreotype studios were outfitted with colorful velvet tapestry, frescoed ceilings, six-light chandeliers, and, of course, impressive daguerreotype portraits of kings and queens, politicians, and even Native American chiefs (2005.100.82) displayed on the walls, dressed up in fine frames. Nevertheless, the medium’s success in America was built upon the patronage of the average worker who desired a simple likeness to keep for himself, or more likely, to send to a loved one as the era’s most enduring pledge of friendship. Among the many momentous social transformations generated by photography’s invention was the possibility of self-representation by a large variety of groups previously excluded from official portraiture. Seamstresses, carpenters, actors (1999.481.1), goldminers, and even the recently deceased all sat for their official portraits, leaving behind an extremely valuable record of their anonymous, if not invisible, lives.
I just received this daguerreotype that I purchased on OnlineAuction.com! I enhanced her a bit. Thanks for reading my blog!
The daguerreotype, the first photographic process, was invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) and spread rapidly around the world after its presentation to the public in Paris in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silvered copper plate is a unique photograph that, when viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality. Although born in Europe, the daguerreotype was extremely popular in the United States—especially in New York City, where in the late 1850s hundreds of daguerreotypists vied for clients. The most successful artists built lavish portrait studios on the upper floors of buildings on and just off Broadway, and in other major American cities from Boston to San Francisco.