DAGUERRE, LOUIS JACQUES MANDÉ
French painter, decorator, printmaker, entrepreneur, inventor, and photographer
Daguerre was born on November 18, 1787, in Cor- meilles-en-Parisis to Louis Jacques Daguerre and Anne Hauterre. He later attended the public school of draw- ing, and perhaps apprenticed to an architect, in Orléans, where his father was a process-server in the bailiff’s court. Daguerre arrived around 1803 in Paris, where his godparents, the wine merchants Louis and Marie-Louise Fromont, most likely received him.
Daguerre spent the majority of his career seeking pop- ular support and official recognition as an artist during one of the most politically and socially complex periods in French history, living through the French Revolution, Empire, Bourbon Restoration, and July Monarchy. If his contributions to photography eventually overshadowed his work as a painter, the French government’s ultimate support for the daguerreotype in 1839 nevertheless dem- onstrates Daguerre’s ambition and entrepreneurial prow- ess, as well as his determination, resiliency, and political savvy. Perhaps his most significant legacy to modern art and photography was this ability to negotiate artistic and political viability with popular forms of visual art.
Although Daguerre’s early years remain somewhat obscure, he began his career in Paris around 1804, when he was one of the first students to enter the painting studio of the Paris Opéra, then under the direction of Ig- nazio-Eugenio-Maria Degotti. He may also have been a student of Jacques-Louis David, and early biographies of Pierre Prévost (who was hired by James Thayer to paint the panoramas for his two rotundas in the Boulevard Montmartre) state that Daguerre was one of Prévost’s assistants, even though extant documentation does not exist to support the claim.
Daguerre first appears in the records of the Opéra as a day laborer in December 1808 for the opera Al- exandre chez Apelle and again in November 1809 for Fernand Cortez. In 1810 Daguerre served as painter of ornaments for La Mort d’Abel, and the same year, he and Pierre-Luc Ciceri completed the decorations for the second act of Les Bayadères. In 1812, Jean Baptiste Isabey, who had assumed leadership of the Opera studio in 1810, recommended Daguerre as one of the studio’s four first painters. Daguerre held various posts in the painting studio through 1816, when he was named the chief decorator of the Ambigu-Comique theater. He returned briefly to the Opera studio as co-chief painter with Ciceri from 1820–22. Daguerre’s most prominent work with Ciceri were the decorations for Aladin, ou la lampe merveilleuse, which inaugurated gas lighting at the Opéra on the rue Peletier in February 1822.
Daguerre’s early paintings share much in common with the “troubadour” style exemplified by Pierre Révoil and Fleury-François Richard, the gothic interiors popularized by François-Marius Granet, and the work of various artists in the weekly salons of Ciceri, includ- ing Carle and Horace Vernet, Jean-Baptiste and Eugène Isabey, Charles-Marie Bouton, and Jean-Pierre Alaux. Despite the fact that Daguerre began his own career under the Empire, and associated with several artists in Ciceri’s salon known for their “bonapartist” tenden- cies, he nevertheless was favored by the newly restored Bourbon monarchy. Daguerre’s family was closely tied to the Bourbons through an aunt, Marguerite Dully de Chérix, who had raised his father. Upon her death in 1790, she left her fortune to Louis XVI, and Daguerre’s father was placed under house arrest and was almost incarcerated during the Reign of Terror because of this will. Louis XIII purchased Daguerre’s first entry into the official Parisian Salon, Intérieur d’une chapelle de l’église des Feuillants (1814). Daguerre remained skilled throughout his career for employing both his art and social connections to gauge changing public taste and to curry the favor of the current regime in power.
In 1810, Daguerre married Louise Georgi(en)ne Schmit(te) (called Arrowsmith or Smith), daughter of William Schmit (called Smith), who had immigrated to France from London in 1783, and eventually served as porter for the Orléans family. During the early days of the July Monarchy, and the return of the Orléans to power, Daguerre converted to the new spirit of re- publicanism. He was one of the first artists to become a member of the Société libre des beaux-arts, which professed a program of conservative liberalism. Op- posing both the outdated traditions of the Academy and the abandon of romanticism, this group of artists, founded by Charles Farcy of the Journal des artistes, supported Victor Cousin’s doctrine of beauty and utility in the arts. Cousin had energized the fashionable, liberal society of the Restoration with his philosophy classes at the Sorbonne, which were discontinued in 1822, and recommenced in 1828. Seen as threatening to the politics of Charles X, Cousin’s philosophy went hand-in-hand with the program of industrial progress of the July Monarchy. This program, along with the conservation of French national heritage responsible for François Guizot’s creation of the Commission des monuments historiques in 1830, later played an essential role in state support of the daguerreotype. During the Restoration, Daguerre catered to a slightly liberal public that came into power and prestige under the July Monarchy. In this way, he survived not only the change of political power, but personal bankruptcy as well.
Daguerre was also among the first French artists to experiment with lithography, registering two litho- graphs, printed by Charles Motte, on 20 June 1818: Souterrain exécuté pour l’Ambigu Comique 1817 and Citerne en ruine à Montmartre. In 1819, his lithograph L’Entrée de l’église du St. Sépulcre for Count Auguste de Forbin’s Voyage dans le Levant, was shown at the Salon. In 1820, Daguerre contributed to the first volume of Charles Nodier and Baron Isidore Taylor’s Voyages romantiques et pittoresques dans l’ancienne France. His lithograph Ruines de l’abbaye de Jumièges (Ancienne Normandie, t. I, pl. 12) was shown by the printer Godefroy Engelmann in the Salon of 1822. Between 1820-33, Daguerre contributed (preparatory drawings or lithographs) to a total of 11 plates for successive volumes of this publication, including An- cienne Normandie, t. II, 1825; Franche-Comté, 1825; and Auvergne, t. I, 1829 and t. II, 1833. His theater decorations for Victor Ducange’s Elodie, presented at the Ambigu-Comique in 1822, were popularized by the lithographer Jean-Philippe Schmit and shown in the Salon of 1824.
Daguerre was best known as the entrepreneur and creator of the Diorama, which he organized as a lim- ited stock company in 1821 with his partner Bouton. The society was registered under the name “Bouton, Daguerre et Cie” on January 3, 1822, with shareholders including Jean-Baptiste Isabey and the Count Charles de Clarac, the curator of antiquities at the Louvre. In 1823, Daguerre formed a second society with the printer James Smith to exploit the Diorama in London under the supervision of John Arrowsmith. Daguerre and Bou- ton jointly directed the Paris Diorama until September 1830, when Bouton left the society for declared health problems. Despite his declaration of bankruptcy in 1832, Daguerre continued as sole director of the Paris Diorama until it burned down on 8 March 1839.
The Diorama was a building designed by Daguerre that housed two large, semi-transparent paintings il- luminated by natural light. Inspired by the success of the panoramas, as well as the transparent paintings of Louis Carmontelle and Franz-Niklaus Kœnig, Daguerre and Bouton employed blinds and colored screens to represent natural effects of time, light, and movement in contrasting interior and exterior views. The public, seated in a central auditorium, was transported from one scene to the next by means of a rotating viewing plat- form. On rare occasions, Daguerre used the Diorama as a venue to capitalize on current political events in order to win political favor, as with the Vue de Porte Sainte- Marie (1824), which depicted the Duke d’Angoulême (son of the future Charles X) meeting Ferdinand VII in Spain during the French effort to restore the absolutist Spanish monarch to the throne. Shortly after the Duke d’Orléans assumed the throne as King Louis-Philippe, Daguerre depicted the taking of the Hôtel de Ville dur- ing the spontaneous insurrection of French citizens and the National Guard against the army on 28 July 1830. In 1834, Daguerre and his student Hippolyte Sébron developed the double-effect diorama. Like the earlier diorama pictures, the double-effect paintings featured temporal and climatic changes, but were also episodic; the paintings represented events or scenes that often included the appearance of figures, painted on the back of the canvas, which were only visible when lit from behind. In The Inauguration of the Temple of Solomon (1836), for instance, a nighttime scene of a deserted architectural setting was gradually transformed into a magnificent, candelabra-lit golden temple in which viewers eventually saw thousands of people celebrating the dedication of the temple.
Although Daguerre envisioned the Diorama as a permanent public display of his work, he exhibited at three other Paris Salons as part of his program to gain official, as well as public, recognition for his art. In 1824, he showed Chapelle d’Holyrood and an oil sketch, La Chapelle de Roslin. The same year he was awarded the cross of the Legion of Honor and Forbin, then director of the Louvre, described him as one of the most remark- able painters of the time. His 1827 Salon entry, Village d’Unterseen en Suisse (lost in 1848) was purchased by the Duke d’Orléans. All three of these works were also subjects of Daguerre’s Diorama. The repetition of di- orama subjects was not merely a commercial endeavor, but also represented Daguerre’s concern with establish- ing his reputation as a painter outside the realm of the ephemeral and popular pictures for the Diorama. His final Salon entry, in 1834, was an original landscape, Paysage, and is unique in Daguerre’s oeuvre for its heavily worked foreground, in which the impasto of the paint is apparent. The rugged terrain and foliage of the foreground reveal the influence of the new school of landscape represented by Théodore Rousseau and indicate the direction Daguerre’s Salon painting might have taken had he continued to exhibit.
By 1834, however, Daguerre was completely oc- cupied with experiments related to the Diorama and photography. For his diorama paintings, he had already studied different materials according to their reaction and sensitivity to light, in particular working with phosphorescent materials in a camera obscura in an attempt to produce incandescent colors. Daguerre’s talent for lighting effects and illusionism, along with his solid understanding of printmaking techniques, led to the invention of the daguerreotype, the first publicly announced and commercially successful photographic process. After five years of joint experimentation with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, Daguerre produced his first daguerreotypes as early as 1834 and announced the invention in the Journal des artistes on 27 September 1835. The daguerreotype is a photographic image with a mirror-like surface on a silver or silver-coated copper plate. A unique photograph, the daguerreotype is not produced from a negative, and the final image appears either positive or negative depending on the angle of reflected light.
Daguerre first contacted Niépce in January 1826, after hearing about his heliographic experimentation from the optician Vincent Chevalier. Niépce eventually visited Daguerre at the Diorama in August 1827, and the two men formed a company on 14 December 1829 in order to exploit both Niépce’s invention, based on the photosensitvity of bitumen of Judea, and Daguerre’s improvements to the camera obscura. After Niépce’s death (5 July 1833), Daguerre signed a new contract in 1835 with Niépce’s son, Isidore. The new contract changed the name of the partnership from “Niépce- Daguerre” to “Daguerre and Isidore Niépce,” in light of Daguerre’s recognition of the chemical bases of the daguerreotype, iodine and mercury. A final contract was
signed in 1837, naming Daguerre as the sole inventor of the new process, which was announced by the politician and scientist, François Arago, on 7 January 1839. Arago formally divulged the process to a joint meeting of the Académie des Sciences and Académie des beaux-arts on 19 August 1839, after King Louis-Philippe signed the law granting lifetime pensions to Daguerre and Isidore Niépce on 7 August 1839.
According to the terms of the law, Daguerre was required to publish details of the daguerreotype pro- cess and techniques for painting diorama pictures. In addition to Arago’s public explanation of the technical production of daguerreotypes, Daguerre produced an illustrated manual outlining the various steps of the process. Daguerre added his correspondence with Niépce, in which he suggests experimenting with the photosensitivity of silver and iodine, in order to dem- onstrate that the daguerreotype was indeed his own invention. The cited letters—which document the fact that Daguerre’s systematic experiments with silver ni- trate, and eventually mercury, led him to the discovery of his own photographic process—only revealed part of the picture. In fact, Niépce already had used iodine, but only as a kind of “developing agent,” to darken the shaded parts of his proofs. Daguerre’s claims in the manual angered Niépce’s son, Isidore, who responded with his own pamphlet, in which he asserted that his father invented the daguerreotype.
Following Arago’s announcement, Daguerre sent daguerreotypes to Ludwig I of Bavaria, Ferdinand I of Austria, Nikolaus I of Russia, Friedrich Wilhelm III of Prussia, the Austrian chancellor Klemens Metternich, and Austrian ambassador to France, A.G. Aponyi. Daguerre also offered daguerreotypes to Arago and Alphonse de Cailleux. These dedication plates, like many of the images the first generation of photographic artists produced, comprised views of Paris and still-life arrangements of plaster casts, architectural fragments, bas-reliefs, and copies of sculpture. Daguerre’s earliest extant daguerreotype is generally considered to be the still life presented to Cailleux, which includes a bas- relief after Jean Goujon. Georges Potonniée, who first exhibited the plate in 1920, dated it to 1837 based on an inscription that is no longer visible. The image itself is now almost completely faded, as is the case with many of Daguerre’s earliest daguerreotypes. The state of many of these early plates, along with lack of documentation, accurate provenance, and conservation studies, renders precise dating, as well as firm attribution, difficult at best. For these reasons, the date and identification of Daguerre’s earliest portrait daguerreotype remains a debated topic.
After Arago’s disclosure of the daguerreotype pro- cess, Daguerre gave a series of public demonstrations in September of 1839, in addition to weekly consultations to daguerreotypists at the Conservatoire des Arts et Métiers. He also supervised daguerreotype production at the shop of Alphonse Gustave Giroux, the son of his art dealer and the first manufacturer of daguerreotype equipment. In 1840, Daguerre retired to the village of Bry-sur-Marne. While he continued to work on the daguerreotype, periodically sending news of improve- ments to Arago, photography was no longer his affair. He painted his last diorama for the church of St. Gervais-St. Protais at Bry in 1842. In 1848, he constructed a natural grotto in the park at Bry, returning to the source of his original inspiration, the landscape. He died on 10 July 1851, the same year he was planning another religious diorama painting, a cavalry, for the church at Perreux, in the neighboring town of Nogent-sur-Marne.
Louis Daguerre was born 18 November 1787 in Cor- meilles-en-Parisis, France and attended public school in Orléans before moving to Paris around 1803. In 1808, he appears in the official records of the painting studio of the Opéra, where he held various posts through 1816, when he was named the chief decorator of the Ambigu-Comique theater. He returned briefly to the Opera studio as co-chief painter with Pierre-Luc Ciceri from 1820–22. Daguerre also exhibited five paintings in the official Parisian Salon, was among the first French artists to experiment with lithography, and was the entre- preneur of the popular spectacle known as the Diorama, which opened in Paris in 1822. On 14 December 1829, Daguerre formed a company with Nicéphore Niépce in order to exploit Niépce’s invention of heliography, and Daguerre’s improvements to the camera obscura. After Niépce’s death (5 July 1833), Daguerre signed a new contract on 9 May 1835 with Niépce’s son, Isidore. The new contract changed the name of the partnership from “Niépce-Daguerre” to “Daguerre and Isidore Niépce,” in light of Daguerre’s recognition of the chemical bases of the daguerreotype, iodine and mercury. A final contract was signed on 13 June 1837, naming Daguerre as the sole inventor of the new process, which was announced by the politician and scientist, François Arago, on 7 January 1839. Arago formally divulged the process to a joint meeting of the Académie des Sciences and Académie des beaux-arts on 19 August 1839, after the purchase of the process by the French government. In 1840, Daguerre retired to Bry-sur-Marne, where he painted his last diorama for the church of St. Gervais-St. Protais in 1842 and died on 10 July 1851.
DAGUERREIAN JOURNAL (1850)
When the first issue of The Daguerrean Journal ap- peared on November 1st 1850, American photographers experienced their first specialist journal devoted to the new art, and the world welcomed the first commercially produced photographic magazine. It was not, strictly speaking, the first journal to promote the daguerreo- type—that goes to John Plumbe’s short-lived publication The Plumbean in the late 1840s, but in terms of a widely published and distributed periodical, The Daguerrean Journal was an undoubted first.
The editor and publisher was Samuel Dwight Hum- phrey, born in Hartland Connecticut, himself a daguerre- otypist in New York with several years experience, and already by that time, co-author with M. Finley of the 1849 manual on the process, A System of Photography Containing an Explicit Detail of the Whole Process of Daguerreotype.
The publication’s full title—The Daguerreian Jour- nal: Devoted to the Daguerreian and Photographic Art. Also embraces the Sciences, Arts and Literature—made Humphrey’s intention explicit.
The first issue had, as its frontispiece, a portrait of Daguerre, and while a year’s subscription of the twice-monthly publication was set at ‘three dollars in advance’ single issues could be purchased for twenty- five cents.
Initial reaction to the journal was highly positive and, at the end of its first year of publication, Jeremiah Gurney, in a letter to the editor published in May 1851, noted that “a journal, therefore, devoted as yours has been to affording so many valuable hints in the operative department of the new artist, is a most invaluable aid... ...We have at once in our power the means of union and advancement. We have a medium through which, no matter how distant we may be placed, we may intercommunicate and establish that good fellowship which should exist between all exercising a common calling... ...The only hope in raising our calling is in publication and communication; the opportunity is within our grasp; and I trust when the current volume terminates its career, and that we have all been weighed in the balance, we shall not be found wanting.”
Before the end of the first volume of publication, Levi Hill had made the first announcement of his achievement at producing daguerreotypes in what he stated were natural colours. So impressed was Hum- phrey by Hill’s claims that he invited him to become co-editor of the Daguerreian Journal, an offer which he quickly regretted. Hill’s reluctance to detail his pro- cess brought widespread opprobrium from within the photographic community, despite his assertions that he was withholding publication until he had the process in a more perfect state. The daguerreian community, and Samuel Humphrey, quickly lost faith in Hill’s claims. He was accused of trying to swindle the purchasers of his manuals, and his co-editorship of The Daguerre- ian Journal was terminated before the completion of volume two.
The journal attracted readers and contributors from Europe as well as America, including such luminaries as the leading British writer on photography, Robert Hunt, whose writings on ‘Researches on Light,’ ‘Helichrome’ and ‘On the Application of Science to the Fine and Use- ful Arts’ were all included in 1851, as was a review of his book ‘Photography—a Treatise.’
After two years of successful publication, and three volumes, the The Daguerrean Journal name was changed to Humphrey’s Journal of the Daguerreotype and Photographic Arts—usually thereafter referred to as Humphrey’s Journal—a title it retained until the end of volume 13. With the exception of a brief cessation between January and march 1852, publication under this name continued until late 1863.
For volume 14 only, a further name change was in- troduced—to Humphrey’s Journal of Photography and the Heliographic Arts and Sciences.
Renamed again in 1864 as Humphrey’s Journal of Photography and the Allied Arts & Sciences, the maga- zine continued to enjoy success until 1870 (the end of volume 21) under the editorship of John Towler.
The daguerreotype process—the first practical means of capturing a lasting image by a photochemical reac- tion—was developed in France in the 1820s and ’30s by Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce and by Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, after whom it is named. In this process, a copper plate that has been coated with silver, polished, and sensitized is exposed to light and then chemically treated to produce and fix a single positive photographic image. The finely detailed picture that results from the process alternately appears to its viewer as a positive or a negative, depending on the angle of light in which the cased mirror-like plate is held. The first daguerre- ian cameras reversed the image from right to left from the original perspective; by 1840, the introduction of mirrors in place of, or in addition to, lenses allowed for right-reading images. Initially, the long exposure time required to produce a daguerreotype inhibited its use for portraiture, but by the early 1840s, important chemical additions to the process and improvements in camera- and lens-making allowed daguerreotypy to be used for imaging human subjects. Its accuracy, rela- tive rapidity, and affordability made daguerreotypy the dominant form of photography until the 1850s, when it was supplanted by negative-to-positive processes that produced and reproduced images more easily and inexpensively.
Daguerre’s original process involved several compli- cated steps that exceeded the capacities of most curious amateurs. First, a sheet of copper was carefully coated with a thin layer of silver, then cleaned and polished. The characteristic reflectivity of the daguerreian plate’s mir- ror-like surface was achieved using an abrasive mixture of pumice and oil that was washed from the plate with nitric acid and water.
In a darkened room, the polished plate next was sen- sitized through exposure to iodine flakes in a specially designed box until a chemical reaction introduced a thin layer of silver iodide on the silvered surface, turning it a bright golden color. Once placed in a plate holder and covered with an opaque protective slide, the plate was ready for exposure in a camera. These early cameras were relatively simple: they consisted of a lightproof wooden box within another box that had been fitted with a ground glass, a mirror, and a brass tube containing a lens. Daguerre’s original camera used a meniscus, or simple convex-concave, lens.
In preparation for taking the picture, the camera’s lens was focused and capped and the plate holder inserted into the camera. In place of a shutter, the protective opaque slide was pulled away from the plate and out of the camera and the lens cap removed to begin the exposure. The first daguerreotypes could require twenty minutes or longer of exposure, depending on light condi- tions. Once the estimated exposure time was reached, the lens cap and protective slide were replaced and the plate holder removed from the camera and returned to a darkroom for development.
In the darkroom, the plate was suspended face-down in a box containing a small amount of mercury that had been heated to 120 to 180 degrees Fahrenheit by means of a spirit lamp to distribute it evenly across the bottom of the box. Mercury vapors chemically reacted with ar- eas of the silvered plate that were exposed to light. The daguerreotypist examined the plate at intervals to check the progress of the developing latent image.
Once the picture was visible and the contrast in its light and dark tones deemed satisfactory, it was bathed in a heated solution of salt or “fixed” in a bath of sodium thiosulfate, or “hypo,” for approximately thirty seconds to remove the sensitized chemicals that remained on the plate. The hyposulfite was then rinsed off with water and the plate carefully dried to avoid spotting. The finished plate was then enclosed behind glass in a protective frame.
Development of the Daguerreotype Process
In the early nineteenth century, a number of artists, scientists, and amateurs simultaneously were experi- menting with various chemicals, surfaces, cameras, and lenses to fix a permanent image that was gener- ated by light instead of by an artist’s hand. In England, Thomas Wedgwood, Sir Humphry Davy, and William Henry Fox Talbot were working to print such images on paper, and in France, Nicéphore Niépce and Daguerre each were searching for a means of capturing pictures on metal plates. Daguerre had turned to photographic experimentation after the popular and profitable exhi- bition of his diorama paintings in Paris. These large- scale, semi-translucent canvases featured trompe l’œil paintings illuminated with various lighting effects to give the illusion of passing time. Having used a cam- era obscura to create his paintings, Daguerre became interested in devising a method to capture the camera’s projections. In 1826, he learned from the Parisian op- ticians Charles and Vincent Chevalier that another of their clients, Niépce, had been using bitumen of Judea to print images on pewter. Daguerre wrote to Niépce
to inquire about his process, which Niépce had named heliography. The two began a tentative correspon- dence, with each reluctant to divulge the extent of his progress to a rival. In late 1829, after concluding that their independent work could advance more quickly in collaboration, Niépce and Daguerre became partners. When Niépce died three and a half years later, his son Isidore succeeded him in the partnership; Daguerre continued experimenting.
By 1837, Daguerre’s progress in stabilizing the photographic process was such that he revised the original terms of the partnership that had designated Niépce as the inventor of the process and Daguerre as its improver to give himself the primary role. He had happened upon a combination of common salt, silver, iodine, and mercury that finally succeeded in devel- oping a latent photographic image and permanently fixing its subtle shades on a copper plate. Seeing the potential profit in the improved process, Isidore Niépce acquiesced to Daguerre’s terms. In attempting to sell his findings to subscribers in France and abroad, Da- guerre approached François Jean Dominique Arago, director of the Paris Observatory, permanent secretary of the French Academy of Science, and a member of the French Parliament’s Chamber of Deputies. Having experimented himself with light-sensitive materials and with means of measuring the effects of light’s in- tensity, Arago immediately recognized the commercial, scientific, and artistic potential of Daguerre’s process. At the 7 January 1839 meeting of the Academy, Arago proposed that “the Government should compensate M. Daguerre direct, and that France should then nobly give to the whole world this discovery which could contribute so much to the progress of art and science” (qtd. in Gernsheim, 1968, 84). In July 1839, the French government passed bills awarding Daguerre and Niépce an annual pension of six thousand and four thousand francs, respectively, in exchange for a detailed history and description of the promising daguerreotype process. For the additional two thousand francs, Daguerre also was asked to reveal the secrets behind the realistic ef- fects of his diorama paintings.
The Public Introduction and Adoption of Daguerreotype
In keeping with Arago’s hopes and with Daguerre’s and Niépce’s agreement with the French Government, the daguerreotype process was introduced to the public at a joint open meeting of the Academies of Science and of the Fine Arts on 19 August 1839. In front of a rapt crowd that filled the Academy’s halls and courtyard, Arago detailed, but did not demonstrate, the necessary equipment and procedures on Daguerre’s behalf. The response to the announcement was overwhelming. According to one account, only an hour after Arago’s lecture, all the opticians’ shops were besieged, but could not rake together enough instruments to satisfy the onrushing army of would-be daguerreotypists; a few days later you could see in all the squares of Paris three-legged dark-boxes planted in front of churches and palaces. All the physicists, chemists, and learned men of the capital were polishing silvered plates, and even the better-class grocers found it impossible to deny themselves the pleasure of sacrificing some of their means on the altar of progress, evaporating it in iodine and consuming it in mercury vapor” (qtd. in Gernsheim, 1968, 101).
Ford, James. Portrait of a Boy with Gold-Mining Toys. The J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles © The J. Paul Getty Museum.
Théodore Maurisset’s “La Daguerreotypomanie,” published in December 1839, offers a humorous depic- tion of the French public’s tremendous enthusiasm for the new discovery. In the lithograph, a smiling sun shines down on a carnivalesque scene of endless multitudes seeking, posing for, purchasing, taking, and manufactur- ing equipment for making daguerreotypes.
Soon after Arago’s lecture, Daguerre wrote a pam- phlet entitled Historique et description des procédés du Daguerréotype et du Diorama, par Daguerre [A History and Description of the Process of the Daguerreotype and of the Diorama, by Daguerre], published by Alphonse Giroux in Paris, to meet the intense public demand for more information about the process. Daguerre also com- missioned lenses from Charles Chevalier to be used in cameras manufactured to his specifications and to be sold by Giroux. As word of the daguerreotype spread beyond France, Daguerre’s instructions were quickly translated and republished throughout the world. Yet early attempts to replicate Daguerre’s success by follow- ing his procedure often resulted in disappointment, as novices found the process difficult to master. In response to these frustrations, Daguerre agreed to offer demon- strations of his process and his advice to the public.
At the first demonstration, held on 7 September 1839, an audience of nearly one hundred and twenty people observed each step of the procedure and applauded Daguerre’s results after an hour and a half.
When the process was successfully carried out, the results were incomparable. As Samuel Finley Breese Morse, the American painter and inventor, marveled after viewing several of Daguerre’s examples before their public release,
[n]o painting or engraving ever approached it. For example: In a view up the street, a distant sign would be perceived, and the eye could just discern that there were lines of letters upon it, but so minute as not to be read with the naked eye. By the assistance of a powerful lens...every letter was clearly and distinctly legible, and so also were the minutest breaks and lines in the walls of the buildings, and the pavements of the streets. (qtd. in Taft, 1964, 12)
Yet as Morse noted, these first daguerreotypes were incapable of capturing any moving objects. Due to the lengthy time of exposure, the pedestrians and carriages traveling on the streets in Daguerre’s 1838 picture of the Boulevard du Temple in Paris were rendered invisible, with the exception of a man having his boots polished by a bootblack. Because both men remained stationary for the duration of the exposure, they are the only traces of any human presence in the otherwise desolate scene.
This initial shortcoming and the difficulty of the process, however, did not hinder the documentary po- tential of the daguerreotype. In the same year that the process was revealed to the public, Noël Marie Paymal Lerebours, an optician and publisher, solicited and commissioned over a thousand scenic daguerreotypes of important historical sites around the world. His Ex- cursions Daguerriennes, published between 1840 and 1844, featured one hundred and fourteen copperplate engravings taken from daguerreotypes of locations ranging from Paris to Moscow and Algeria to Niagara Falls.
In detailing the range of potential uses for the da- guerreotype, Arago also predicted that it would “procure for [the artist] an increase in work” conducted “less in the open air, and more in his studio” and would “provide physicists and astronomers with very valuable methods of investigation,” thus benefiting art and science alike (qtd. in Gernsheim, 1968, 83). By mid-century, the ac- curacy and detail of the daguerreotype led to the word’s broadened popular use as a metaphor for a precise and vivid description, whether of objects, people, or memories.
As knowledge and the practice of daguerreotypy spread throughout the world, an important potential rival to the process emerged in England. Upon hearing of Daguerre’s research in early 1839, Talbot presented examples of his efforts to capture photographic im-
ages on paper to the Royal Society in London in an effort to protect the integrity of his own discoveries. Significantly, Talbot’s initial “photogenic” process and its successor, the calotype, or talbotype, produced a negative image from which multiple positives could be printed—a distinct advantage over the necessarily singular daguerreotype, and a first glimpse of a pho- tographic process that would come to dominate from the mid-nineteenth through the late-twentieth century. But because Talbot was printing on paper rather than on metal plates, his process yielded less precise images that did not differ as drastically as did Daguerre’s from lithography and other manual forms of printing. As Sir John Herschel complained of Talbot’s process to Arago, “compared to the masterful daguerreotype, Talbot pro- duces nothing but mistiness” (qtd. in Newhall, 1964, 33). What is more, Talbot’s efforts to enforce a patent on his process significantly restricted its initial use. For these reasons, the finely detailed surface of the daguerreotype and the publicly available details of its manufacture be- came more significant than its comparative limitations, leading to its wider adoption and dominance until the rise of the wet collodion process in the 1850s.
Innovations in the Daguerreotype Process
The desire to put the daguerreotype to use for making portraits led to international experiments with, and sig- nificant improvements in, Daguerre’s original process and equipment. Cameras featuring double lenses with a larger aperture and a shorter focal length, designed by Josef Petzval and built by Peter Voightländer in Vienna, offered reduced exposure times better suited to portrait photography. In America, Alexander S. Wolcott and John Johnson introduced a camera in 1840 that used mirrors instead of lenses to focus light on a small da- guerreian plate, also shortening exposure times, with the added benefit of avoiding the reversed image of early lens cameras. By the mid-1840s, various manufactur- ers in Europe and America were selling cameras that were more compact and more portable than Daguerre’s original camera.
While daguerreotype plates initially were coated with silver and sized by individual daguerreotypists, newly formed supply companies in France and America began offering pre-prepared plates and other materials specific to the emerging trade. A full sheet, or a “whole plate”— the largest size that fit in a standardized daguerreotype camera—measures approximately six and a half by eight and a half inches. Whole plates were divided into smaller sizes and offered to customers at lower prices, resulting in the typical half-, quarter-, sixth-, ninth- and sixteenth-plate options. In the mid-1840s, American da- guerreotypists began adding to the layer of silver on their purchased plates with electroplating, or “galvanizing,” in which the daguerreotype plate and a block of silver were attached to two separate wires and suspended in a container of potassium cyanide. When the wires were then connected to a wet battery, molecules of silver were transferred to the plate through electrolysis. This procedure became known as the “American process” and was adopted by French plate manufacturers in the 1850s as the new standard for the preparation of daguerreotype plates.
Newly developed tools and methods for polishing the silver-coated plates were introduced into the revised process as well. Abrasive powders such as iron oxide and decomposed limestone, fine pumice stones, buck- skin- and silk-covered buffing blocks and wheels, and jeweler’s rouge were used to bring plates to a mirror- like shine. Careful polishing with such materials was essential to ensuring that the silver coating was entirely smooth and that the appearance of lines any other visible imperfections was minimized.
Further experiments with the chemical sensitiza- tion of the polished plate resulted in the introduction of additional steps into Daguerre’s original process. In late 1839 in Philadelphia, Robert Cornelius, the son of a plated goods manufacturer, and Dr. Paul Beck God- dard, a chemist, first used bromine as an accelerator in the sensitization process. Other innovators, like John Frederick Goddard (an Englishman of no relation to the American Goddard) and Franz Kratochwila (a Pol- ish civil servant), experimented with bromine as well. Antoine Claudet (a Frenchman working in London) developed a technique for using bromine and chlorine as accelerated sensitizing agents. This multi-phase sensitization of the daguerreotype plate, in combination with the larger aperture lenses used in cameras, reduced exposure times from minutes to as little as three sec- onds, depending on light conditions. These significantly reduced exposure times made daguerreotypy a practical medium for portraiture.
Word of these innovations spread quickly, and da- guerreotypists began exposing their iodine-sensitized plates to bromine in the second of what was now three steps in the sensitization process. Suspended face-down in a box containing a mixture of bromine and quicklime, the iodine-treated, gold-colored surface of the plate turned a silvery blue. Subsequently, the plate was briefly re-exposed to iodine and its sensitization completed. During each step, the progress of the plate’s sensitization could be examined by viewing its tones through glass windows in the different coating boxes.
Additional experiments in the chemistry of da- guerreotypy also improved the durability of the image on the daguerreian plate’s surface. In 1840, the French physicist Louis Armand Hippolyte Fizeau discovered that washing the fixed plate with a weak solution of gold chloride that had been heated and spread over the image
would enhance its tones as well as stabilize and preserve it against further chemical reactions. Daguerreotypists employed this gilding technique from its introduction to the end of the daguerreian era.
Even when gilded, daguerreotypes remained fragile and needed to be enclosed in a protective case behind glass. Mass-produced cases made of leather and, later, of an early type of plastic made from gum shellac were sold to daguerreotypists. Brass mats of different shapes and case linings of silk or velvet were added to the case to enhance the appearance of the finished daguerreotype. Customers could choose among the options in each to embellish their portraits, while daguerreotypists used stamped cases and mats to advertise their work.
A general desire for images that were both realistic and aesthetically appealing drove much of the continu- ing experimentation with the daguerreian process. In 1851, a daguerreotypist named Levi L. Hill in upstate New York announced that he had discovered a process for capturing vivid reds, greens, blues, and browns on the silver daguerreian plate, resulting in images that appeared even more lifelike and beautiful than the da- guerreotype. There was good deal of popular excitement about the advance, and Hill advertised manuals describ- ing his process for three dollars. Yet when Hill delayed displaying examples of his achievement in an effort to perfect and patent his process, suspicions of a hoax were raised. Upon applying for a patent, Hill testified about his process and finally displayed examples of his “hillo- types,” as he termed them, to a Senate committee that concluded that he could not patent a “strictly chemical” process (qtd. in Barger and White, 41). Late-twentieth century examinations of Hill’s process, as he detailed it in his 1856 Treatise on Heliochromy and as it can be studied through sixty-two hillotypes held by the Muse- um of American History of the Smithsonian Institution, have concluded that it differs significantly enough from daguerreotypy, despite Hill’s use of daguerreian plates, to be considered a separate photographic process.
The Popularity and Demise of the Daguerreotype
By the mid-1840s, daguerreotype studios had been established in most of the world’s major cities. The profitability of making portraits for an eager public led many people from all walks of life to take up the practice of daguerreotypy. Itinerant daguerreotypists went so far as to improvise horse-drawn and shipboard studios and in doing so, extended the practice of daguerreotypy to the far reaches of the world. In 1840 in Rio de Janeiro, the fourteen- year-old Brazilian emperor Don Pedro II was so taken with a visiting priest’s demonstration of the daguerreian process that he purchased a camera and became Brazil’s first photographer. In Australia, the first daguerreian studio was opened in late 1842 on the roof of the Royal Hotel in Sydney. The first professional daguerreotypists also arrived in Mexico in the early 1840s, capturing the likenesses of wealthy families in Mexico City, of landowners in the provinces, and of traders on the coasts, despite the limited availability of the necessary chemicals and the challenging climate. By 1845, Russian daguerreotypists had succeeded in adapting the process to capture images on brass and copper instead of more expensive silver. The Canadian daguerreotypists Eli J. Palmer and Thomas Coffin Do- ane submitted samples of their high-quality work to the Paris Exhibition of 1855, where they were awarded honorable mention against the tough competition of the best daguerreian artists working in France and the United States.
As the ranks of daguerreotypists throughout the world swelled, some sought a commercial advantage by outfitting their studios with luxurious interiors and flattering portraits of prominent clients. Although the daguerreotype initially had been promoted as an art form made without an artist’s intervention, as competi- tion among daguerreotypists increased and prices for a portrait dropped, those who charged more for their im- ages increasingly separated themselves from less-skilled daguerreian “operators” by designating themselves as daguerreian “artists.”
In America, the studios of such noted artists as Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes in Boston and Mathew B. Brady in New York and Washington, D.C., became destinations for the nation’s most eminent citizens to be daguerreotyped. At the tonier studios, a full-plate portrait could cost more than five dollars and a “mammoth” plate, measuring as much as fifteen by seventeen inches, sold for the extravagant sum of fifty dollars; however, most daguerreotypists charged a dollar or less for a sixth-plate or smaller cased picture. By the 1850s, prices had dropped to as little as twelve- and-a-half cents for two portraits taken by an ordinary daguerreotypist. The largest American studios, capable of taking as many as a thousand pictures a day, typically divided the labor of the process among several people, including a plate preparer, a camera operator, and painter who could add color tinting to the image for an addi- tional charge. By 1849, the daguerreotypist had become such a familiar figure in American society that an article in the popular magazine Godey’s Lady’s Book declared, “In our great cities, a daguerreotypist is to be found in almost every square; and there is scarcely a county in any state that has not one or more of these industrious individuals busy at work in catching ‘the shadow’ ere the ‘substance fade’” (qtd. in Rudisill, 1971, 199).
Even as daguerreian portraiture became a common- place of mid-nineteenth century life, first-time visitors to a daguerreotypist’s studio often were disappointed
with both the experience and the result of being photo- graphed. Comical stories of the frustrating experience of seeing oneself in a daguerreotype abound in European and American periodicals from the 1840s and ’50s. Discomfited by the use of restraining head braces, by the obligation of sitting still for the time of exposure, and by the limitations on colors and patterns that one could wear while being daguerreotyped, sitters frequently com- plained that they appeared uncomfortable and unnatural in their portraits. Others were displeased with the detail with which the less-flattering aspects of their appear- ance were too-faithfully imaged. To discuss strategies for dealing with unsatisfied customers, and to publicize the latest advances in daguerreian technology, trade journals such as La Lumière, The Daguerreian Journal, and The Photographic Art Journal were established. Articles recommending techniques for redirecting light and for posing sitters in positions that highlighted their best features, and diminished their worst, appeared regularly in such publications alongside discussions of new equipment and processing techniques.
In England, however, daguerreotypy was less widely practiced, due to Daguerre and Niépce having patented the process there. They also authorized their patent agent to sue anyone who made, displayed, or sold daguerreotypes without permission. In 1846, only four daguerreian studios were operating in all of London. Such restrictions, along with Talbot’s continuing work on negative-to-positive photography, contributed to the English development of the wet collodion process. Once photographers learned this method of producing high-quality photographic images much more quickly, easily, cheaply than the most refined daguerreian pro- cess would permit, the daguerreotype effectively was outmoded. Although it continued to be practiced with some obstinacy in the United States into the 1860s, the rest of the world largely had abandoned the daguerreian process by the mid-1850s.
DAINTREE, RICHARD (1832–1878)
Englishman Richard Daintree was born in 1832 and came to Australia for health reasons and to prospect for gold. He joined the Geological Survey of Victoria as an assistant and undertook further training at the Royal School of Mines Laboratory in England in 1856 and around this time he took up photography. Back in Melbourne in 1857 however, Daintree set up as a pho- tographer in partnership with the flamboyant French journalist Antoine Fauchery. The pair produced, in parts, one of the first albums in Australia showing views of Victoria including images of Aboriginal people in
1858. Employed by the Geological Survey Victoria from 1859–1864 Daintree used of photography in geological reporting also having them hand coloured for effect. From the start Daintree’s use of a range of processes and strategies and his understanding of the promotional value of photography was inspired. He also supplied images for publication as stereographs and made transparencies.
In 1864, Daintree took up pastoral leases in North Queensland but was appointed northern Queensland Government Geologist in 1867. He was commissioned to prepare photographs and mineral samples for the London International Exhibition of 1870. and he had his photographs enlarged and coloured as more effective displays. He produced a Queensland album in autotype in 1872 as well as folios of views of bush life. In 1872, Daintree became the Queensland Government Agent- General in London where he promoted immigration using his Australian photographs.
Daintree exhibited at the Imperial Exhibition (1872), the Vienna Exhibition (1873), and the Philadelphia Cen- tennial Exhibition (1876). Ill health forced his resigna- tion in 1876 and he died in England in 1878.
D’ALESSANDRI, FRATELLI (1818–1893)
Consisting of Antonio D’Alessandri & Paolo Francesco D’Alessandri (1827–1889) Fratelli D’Alessandri be- came one of the foremost studios in Europe, known for their elegant approach to portraiture. Father Antonio Alessandri was granted financial and social success overnight when he became the first official photogra- pher, fotografico pontifico, to the Pope and the Vatican court with world-wide distribution of Papal imagery. In 1858 he was awarded a ‘grand medal of gold of His Holiness Pius IX.’ These were troubled times, not least that Rome, led by the Pope, was to continue its decline as the cultural capital of Europe, to be eclipsed by Paris. Pope Pius IX (1792–1878) became pope in 1846 but if he did appear to have liberal leanings, these were all destroyed in the short lived revolution of 1848 when he fled Rome and sought the help of French troops. By July 1849 the rebellion was over. While the rest of the Kingdoms of Italy joined in the idea of the Unification, but not without difficulty, Pius resolutely refused to acknowledge the possibility. Thus Rome filled up with the French, along with many destitute priests who had fled from the other provinces as they were no longer required to be the civil service. It is strange for us today to conceive of a Pope running a country, complete with an army, (largely made up of Catholics from outside Italy together with a foreign army), and a Pontifical state police. In effect it was a priest state, (priests were the only industry) with many public executions by guil- lotine. D’Alessandri was used therefore to project the image of a different society, one of affluence, stability: propagating the establishment’s culture, by demonstrat- ing through photography these perceived virtues. When the Bourbons fled from Naples in 1862 their court added itself to Rome’s glamorous society, along with Roman aristocracy and the rich and famous who were still on the Grand Tour, all became the clients of the photog- rapher-priest, such as: ‘Alessandro Torlonia and his daughter,’ 1872, (Torlonia was the richest man in Rome in the 19th Century) or that of ‘HRH Prince of Wales. the future King of England,’ 1859. The Pope continued to demonstrate his control by public displays using his photographer: ‘Pope Pius IX blessing the Column of the Immaculate Conception,’ 1857, which commemorated his 1854 dogma. In 1864, he set his face against science with his ‘Syllabus of Errors’ that ruled that scientific theory must always be subservient to church teaching. Just as the photographic topographers, for technical reasons, displayed the cityscape as an empty, barely populated, peaceful sanctuary of aesthetic splendour, of ruin and palace, these organised political photo- graphs, along with the portraiture of Rome’s ‘nobility,’ hid the real world that was taking place in the street. D’Alessandri does not portray the field labourers who lived out their lives, just beyond the boundary of Rome, in grass huts, or demonstrate a Rome of street beggars, rampant malaria, unsanitary conditions, poverty, where the education system, also ran by the church, produced a country with 78% illiteracy. The mask slips, albeit unintentionally, only a few times: D’Alessandri took
perhaps the first examples of Italian photojournalism: the Papal troops at Anzio, 1862, and the battlefields of Mentana and Monterotondo in 1867 which were repro- duced in the L’Illustration, Journal Universal (Paris), no doubt to much French enthusiasm. At Mentana, north east of Rome, Garibaldi’s ragged 4,700 red shirts’ march on Rome were wiped out by 12,000 French and Papal troops. D’Allesandri depicts the empty battle- field littered with corpses, not with intended sadness but presumably as a warning to the citizens. Just as the photograph of ‘Pius IX blessing the troops at Campi di Annibale,’ 1868, is meant to signify virtue. But in 1870, with the French once more changing sides, the breach in the city walls of the 20th September, marked the end of the Pope’s temporal power after 14 centuries of rule. His introduction of the ‘Dogma of Infallibility’ in the same year, and his declaration that he was now a prisoner in the Vatican, did nothing to stop the Unifica- tion. It also marked the end of D’Alessandri’s Pontifical contract: ‘Padri del Concilio Ecumenico,’ 1870, being one of the last of such photography commissions. But the great and the good continued to be his clients and, presumably in defiance of the Pope, D’Alessandri went on to photograph the new rulers.
It is most unusual for a priest to become interested in photography and very rare, if not unique, for one to run a successful business, even in the Papal States where all businesses had to obtain a Vatican licence. To date, there is no understanding of how his interest came about. As he had no artistic training, this might explain his gravitation to portraiture, as distinct from landscape and architecture, but it does not explain his concentration on producing expensive photographs for a rich clientele. In that he obtained the fotografico pontifico then he would have had full approval for all his endeavours by the Vatican who no doubt could see the importance of photography, not least as a means of communicating propaganda to its citizens: what better than to have a trained priest to run it? Since he remained unmarried, one could assume he did not forgo his call- ing. It is the much more likely therefore that the poli- tics of the Vatican had a role to play in D’Allesandri’s business from the very beginning and much control throughout, for it was always strong on censorship of all the arts, including what its citizens were reading and viewing. One incident brought his name momentarily into scandal when a fake (montage) nude photograph of Mario Sofia, the former Queen of Naples, who fled to Rome in 1862, was circulated and ‘a priest’ was ac- cused. During the investigation, another priest, Filippo Bottoni, was sent to jail when he was found to have a hoard of pornographic photographs which he had been supplying for sale.
Father Antonio D’Alessandri, born L’Aquila, took up an interest in photography while at l’Università Romana in 1852 when he also appears to have made frequent visits to the nearby photographic studio of the Luswergh family (Angelo 1793–1858, father and sons Giacomo 1819–1891 and Thommaso 1823–1907), the first Italian studio to produce a catalogue in 1855 (of 131 entries of views and portraits). With the coming of the prospects of much money to be made on the arrival of the albumen and glass plate negative, post 1851, D’Alessandri joined the many and opened a studio in Rome in 1856 in Via del Babuino 65 (until 1865), then at Via del Corso 10–12, and, after his death, the family business moved to 61–63, with his nephew Tito in charge and where they could boast a terrace where group portraits of up to 200 people could be taken. Antonio worked with his brother, Paolo Francesco, who was an excellent photographer in his own right (and is often overlooked). Eventually Paolo’s children, Alessandro (1862–1941), Tito (1864–1942), Cesere (1871–1933), and Mario (1874–1943) also worked in the company with Tito becoming an especially able photographer and main director. Such was the success of the enterprise that Fratelli D’Alessandri, in collabo- ration with Giacomo Arena, opened in Naples at Via della Pace 7, and had distribution facilities in Paris and Vienna. Antonio became an honoured member of the Société Française de Photographie in 1859 and a friend of Nadar. Between 1860–1880, when they were at their most successful, the company employed over 20, in- cluding all family members, male and female. Fratelli D’Alessandri exhibited in the major international ex- hibitions of industry and photography mostly portraits of the great and the good but also with some Vedute di
Roma: Florence 1861, Rome 1870 (gold medal) with 40 photographs depicting living bishops along with a portrait of the Pope, Paris 1878 (gold medal) with views of Rome, Milan 1881 (bronze medal) with a series of hand coloured portraits for which they had become well known, Turin 1884 exhibited interior shots of the Palazzo del Quirinale, and Rome 1890 (gold medal). Paolo’s children all died in 1942/1943 but the firm managed to last until 1950.
DALLEMAGNE, ADOLPHE JEAN
FRANÇOIS MARIN (B. 1811)
Adolphe Jean François Marin Dallemagne was first a painter and then a photographer. Born in 1811, near Paris, he learned how to paint from Ingres (1780–1867), Léon Cogniet (1794–1880) and Raimond Quinsac Mon- voisin (1794–1870), all in the neoclassical style. Ac- cording to Nadar, in his autobiography, “Quand j’étais photographe,” he began his practice under the influence of his friend, another painter, Hippolyte Lazerges (1817– 1887). Dallemagne’s studio was located at 9 avenue de Ségur and in this studio, Dallemagne created his main piece which was the Galerie des artistes contemporains. This consisted of photographs of better known artists of the day like the writer Henri Monnier, the painter Frédéric O’Connel, and of Edouard Manet too.
Dallemagne worked with models as well which were photographed with items making obvious Dallemagne’s allusions to certain occupations. These images appeared in different painting frames from the time periods and styles of Louis XIV, Louis XV or Louis XVI’s, complete with a theatrical velvet curtain.
During this time, photography copied paintings and often looked for acknowledgment in it. Dallemagne also displayed his photographs during several exhibitions of the Société française de Photographie in the years 1863, 1864, 1865, and 1870. Later, the images appearing in these shows were distributed by Nadar’s studio. The painter kept his photographic studio until 1872, after which little is known including the year in whichhe passed.
DALLMEYER, JOHN HENRY (1830–1883)
& THOMAS ROSS (1859–1906)
J. H. Dallmeyer Limited was founded in 1859 at 19 Bloomsbury Street, London.
About 1888 the company moved to 25 Newman Street, London, and from about 1907 kept a sales office at 31 Mortimer Street, London, and a works in Willesden, in north west London.
A naturalised British subject, John Henry Dallmeyer (1830–1883) was born in Loxten, in Westphalia and, having shown a talent for science and mathematics, was apprenticed to an optician. He came to England in 1851 and joined the optical firm of Andrew Ross, sub- sequently marrying a daughter of his employer. Ross, on his death in 1859, left Dallmeyer a third of his private fortune and a substantial part of the company’s machin- ery and equipment, thus allowing Dallmeyer to set up his own company, supplying initially the astronomical telescopes for which Ross had gained a high reputation and which had been made by Dallmeyer during the six years prior to Ross’s death.
As a company, J. H. Dallmeyer produced lenses and other optical and photographic equipment, includ- ing lenses for microscopes. Dallmeyer was a skilled and inventive lens designer, fully aware of the latest scientific developments and maintaining close contact with prominent scientists of the day, notably Sir John Herschel. In 1861 he was elected a fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society. From the early 1860s he began to design and manufacture camera lenses, to the same high quality as his telescopes. He gradually relinquished to his employees, whom he had trained, the manufac- ture of many of the company’s products, and devoted his time to improvements in photographic optics and associated equipment. Notable early designs included the Triple Achromatic lens and the Patent Portrait, the latter being a modification of the well-known Petzval formula, and with a further modification that allowed a variable diffusion of focus. This lens was extensively used by portrait photographers during the second half of the nineteenth century.
Dallmeyer also designed lenses at this time that worked at very large relative apertures, including a por- trait lens of the Petzval type with a maximum aperture of f/2.2—much used for photographing children, due to the shorter exposures that it allowed—and, for a small camera called the Pistolgraph, a Petzval-type lens of approximately f/1. During the 1860s he also produced lenses designed for astronomical photography. In 1866 the Wide Angle Rectilinear and Rapid Rectilinear were produced. The latter, for which Dallmeyer made use of a special type of glass made by Chance Brothers of Birmingham, was a long-lived design that lasted well into the following century.
A high profile was maintained by advertising and also by exhibiting the company’s products. Dallmeyer lenses gained the highest awards in London in 1862, Dublin & Berlin in 1865, Paris in 1867 and 1878, and Philadelphia in 1876. J.H. Dallmeyer also wrote an informative pamphlet ‘Photographic Lenses: On Their Choice and Use,’ that ran to six editions and was a valuable addition to the company’s advertising. It was re-issued in 1892, with much additional material, by T.R. Dallmeyer. The company had a substantial export trade, supported by a reputation for high quality and consis- tency. Exports to the USA were especially important, the New York company E.& H.T. Anthony acting as Dallmeyer’s sole agents. Dallmeyer lenses also found their way to most parts of the British Empire, not least as part of that process of documentation of the empire undertaken by British photographers. In 1878 John Henry Dallmeyer was awarded the Legion of Honour by the French Government. He also received the Russian Order of St. Stanislaus.
From about 1880, as J.H. Dallmeyer’s health dete- riorated, his son Thomas Ross Dallmeyer (1859–1906) progressively took over management of the business, which he retained until 1892 when the firm became a limited company. T.R. Dallmeyer was, like his father, a prolific and talented lens designer, gaining his B.Sc. at King’s College, London. In the 1880s, at a time when other makers were attempting to take advantage of the company’s reputation by producing copies of Dallmeyer lenses, he maintained the commercial advantage by continuing to produce new lenses, notably the Rapid Long Focus Landscape Lens in 1884, and the Rectilinear Landscape Lens in 1888.
With the arrival of the new anastigmat lenses from Zeiss of Germany, using the latest types of glass devel- oped at Jena, and with a performance superior to the Rapid Rectilinears, it was imperative that Dallmeyer should produce a comparable lens. The new design was called the Stigmatic, designed by H.L. Aldis and announced by Dallmeyer in 1896. These lenses, with periodic modifications, continued in production into the 1920s.
Dallmeyer was also prominent in the development of the telephoto lens, being, in 1891, the first company to produce a practical lens of this type. T.R.Dallmeyer remained an active lens designer despite delegating much of the work to others. In 1890, at the request of his friend the photographer P.H. Emerson, he designed a lens that was intended to replicate the characteristics of the eye. In 1893 he designed, at the request of J.H. Bergheim, a soft-focus portrait lens, the Dallmeyer- Bergheim, that went into production in 1896.
The company’s Lens Books show that Dallmeyer lenses were purchased by many of the most prominent photographers of the mid- and late nineteenth century. Their publicity also claims Julia Margaret Cameron as among the users of their lenses.
Under J.H. Dallmeyer, the company also began to supply cameras, concerned that their lenses should be fit- ted to well-made and accurately-registered instruments. A range of studio and field cameras was made available, mainly manufactured by George Hare. Subsequently, folding hand cameras were also supplied.
After 1900 the company continued to design and produce lenses for still and cine use, including projec- tion and enlarging lenses. During both World Wars production was given over to gun-sights and other military equipment. The company was formally dis- solved in 1993.
DALLY, FREDERICK (1838–1914)
English architectural photographer
Frederick Dally professional portrait and landscape photographer (born Southwark, England 29 July 1838; died Wolverhampton, England 28 July 1914). Educated at Christ’s Hospital, London, Dally arrived in Victoria, Vancouver Island, in 1862 at the height of the Cariboo gold rush and began business as a general merchant. In June of 1866, he opened a photography gallery on Fort Street, where he produced carte-de-visites of prominent citizens, and sold albums and views of public buildings, local scenes, and special events. He documented the buildings of the colonial government in Victoria and New Westminster and of the Royal Navy at Esquimalt. As a keen observer and amateur anthropologist, he produced an extensive record of the native peoples of British Columbia and also collected native artifacts.
Best known are his 1867–68 photographs of the Cariboo Wagon Road and the goldfields. Many of these views were later used to produce engravings for publication.
In response to 1869 circulars Dally supplied photo- graphs of prominent buildings and scenery and of native peoples to the Colonial Office. In September 1870, he sold up and left Victoria to study at the Philadelphia Dental College, returning to England in 1872 where he
set up practice as a dental surgeon, briefly in London and subsequently in Wolverhampton. He maintained an interest in British Columbia, and eventually sent his photographs and papers to the Provincial Archives in Victoria just before his death.
DAMMANN, CARL VICTOR (1819–1874)
AND FRIEDRICH WILHELM (1834–1894)
Carl Victor Dammann was born at Muess, Schwerin, northern Germany; Friedrich Wilhelm Dammann, born at Ludwigslust, is described as his brother although they were half-brothers or possibly cousins. Carl trained ini- tially as an architect. It is not known when he took up photography or who taught him. However by January 1869 he is listed as having a photographic business at Grosse Johannisstrasse 4, Hamburg. He is remembered solely for one work, Anthropologisch-Ethnologiches Album in Photographien, a massive project undertaken in the 1870s with the Berliner Gesellschaft für Anthro- pologie, Ethnologie und Urgeschichte (BGAEU), and with which Friedrich also became involved.
How Dammann came to work in ethnological photog- raphy is not known. He appears to have been a portrait photographer, so the production of ethnological ‘types’ might be seen as a broadly related practice and aesthetic. As a major port, Hamburg offered ample opportunities. In 1870–1 Dammann made a series of photographs of African and Arab seamen from Zanzibar. Taken against a plain background, in full face and profile aspects, they were in the accepted scientific aesthetic. These photo- graphs were followed by a similar series of a group of Japanese acrobats. They received unanimous approval from members of the German anthropological establish- ment, the BGAEU—Adolf Bastian, Robert Hartmann and Rudolph Virchow. Recommended in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, they formed the basis of the collaboration between Dammann and the BGAEU from which the Album emerged.
Anthropologisch-Ethnologiches Album in Photog- raphien was published through 1873 and 1874 in ten sections of five folios each, containing 642 photographs in all. Edited by Dammann and published by Wiegandt, Hemel und Parey (Berlin), conceptually it is not dissimi- lar from Etienne Serres’ call in 1845 for a photographic ‘museum’ of the races of mankind for scientific purposes. Between 6 and 18 tipped-in albumen prints are grouped geographically and culturally, and arranged in a grid within a printed boarder on the folios measuring 48 x 64 cm. Ethnic group is given in a letterpress caption beneath each photograph and each folio carries a short ethnologi- cal caption and, in most cases, an acknowledgement of the donor of Berlin’s photographs. It was an expensive production, aimed at learned and scientific societies and universities. The first folios were awarded a silver medal at the 1873 Vienna World Exhibition.
The project gathered photographs from all over the world. The BGAEU appealed to the German expatriate community with anthropological interests to collect and submit photographs. These were sent to Berlin, and forwarded to Dammann by the BGAEU. Sources varied widely. Some donors were scientists, such as Gustav Fritsch whose photographs of south African groups comprise some nine folios of the Album. Some appear to have been submitted by the photographers themselves. Others were from the existing collections in Berlin or from the Museum Godeffroy in Hamburg. The majority were sent in by German traders and colo- nial officers, including many images from commercial photographers, the stock-in-trade of the ‘ethnic’ carte de visite market available locally. This resulted in a wide range of photographic styles, from the anthropometric to the naturalistic and ‘domestic,’ being absorbed into precisely scientific meanings. While the Album presents a racial classification and reflects German anthropologi- cal thinking of the period, it lacks taxonomic precision —a serendipitous element being determined by its simultaneous collection and publication.
Although some of the photographs were made from original negatives, many were from copy negatives made of prints submitted for the project. There is a clear qualitative difference. The method can be seen in surviving whole plate negatives made by Friedrich in 1874–6. Prints were laid out on newspaper and copy negatives made. These were printed and then trimmed, mostly to standard carte de visite or cabinet sizes. While donor- photographers or scientists presumably gave their permission, overall the Album demonstrated the level of unauthorised copying and lack of global copyright protection for photographers at this period, which, in part, made it possible. Some copy prints survive on Dammann’s studio card; printed, in red, in typical style of the period.
Friedrich Dammann, who lived in England, only appears to have got involved with the project after the death of Carl in April 1874 He liaised with the BGAEU and undertook some of the production. However as the last folios appeared by September 1874, it is not clear how much input he had to the Alum itself. Like Carl, it is not known how and where he learned photography but he appears to have been a competent operator.
While the heart of the project were the great Ger- man folios, there were other very different editions. An English popular edition, The Races of Man: Eth- nological Photographic Gallery of the Various Races, was published in London 1875 by Trübner. It comprised 24 plates, measuring 24 × 32 cm, and contained 167 photographs. There is a clearer evolutionary narrative starting with ‘Civilised’ Europeans and ending with
Australians, Melanesians and Micronesians. Although Carl’s name appears on the title page, it was produced by Friedrich and includes material not in the Album, added to the project after 1874. Friedrich was also responsible for a ‘schools’ edition’ Anthropologisches Schul-Album in Photographien (n.d. 1875/6?). Although the same format as The Races of Man, the 179 photographs used and its intellectual shape had more in common with the Album. It also includes material not published in the Album. Friedrich must also have been responsible for the realization of the 1876 Ethnologischer Atlas säm- mtlicher Menschen-Racen in photographien although it was published under Carl’s name by Meissner of Hamburg.
Overall the dissemination outside Germany was not extensive. Several copies of the Album and the other edi- tions survive. While some of the material was returned to Berlin in the 1880s, and is in the collections of the BGAEU and the Museum für Völkerkunde, the residue of carte de visite prints and copy negatives made in the latter stages of the project by Friedrich, were bought from his executors in 1901 by Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford. The project remains the most remarkable collaborative anthropological and photo- graphic endeavour of the nineteenth century.
DANCER, JOHN BENJAMIN (1812–1887)
English innovator and inventor of microphotography
Like many of his contemporaries in the early Victorian period John Benjamin Dancer used his enquiring mind over a broad spectrum of scientific endeavours to make inventions and develop innovations that have since become fundamental to our lives. While the invention of photography was clearly the province of Nicephore Niepce, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and William Henry Fox Talbot, Dancer falls into the second wave of innovators who developed the process on further, frequently with the minimum of information.
Dancer made known the results of his work through pa- pers to the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and the various Manchester and Liverpool photographic societies. The professional and personal relationships he subsequently expanded on provides the key to the rapid development and understanding of the photographic pro- cesses in the Manchester area. Dancer’s observations were regularly recorded in both the Memoirs and Proceedings of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society and in the Liverpool and Manchester Photographic Journal (later to become the British Journal of Photography). There is also a direct connection with the Edinburgh circle through constant correspondence and argument between Dancer and Sir David Brewster on the subject of stereoscopy. Similarly, Dancer was in correspondence with Frederick Scott Archer, who had himself spent his early life in Manchester.
In the year prior to his death he attempted to define his contribution to photography in a letter under the title “Early Photography in Liverpool and Manchester” published in the British Journal of Photography on 11 June 1886.
“Having many reasons for believing that I was one of the first to practice the Daguerreotype process in this country, and also to introduce camera photography into Liverpool and Manchester.... Unfortunately for my purpose, the early descriptions of Daguerre’s method of proceeding were crude and obscure. In consequence of this I had six weeks of hard work, numerous failures, and accidentally was nearly suffocated by the vapour of iodine, before I obtained satisfactory results. Being a practical optician, the camera used was one of my own construction, such as I had frequently supplied to artists for tracing the outline of views in the camera. An achromatic object-glass from a telescope gave fair definition. My photographs were objects of great curiosity to scientific friends and acquain- tances.... At the request of friends I publicly exhibited the Daguerreotype process to an audience of 1500 people. The object then photographed was a flea, magnified as large as a 7 x 5 (inch) silvered plate would permit, the instrument being a gas microscope of my own construc- tion. Many other microscope objects were enlarged, and some were reduced. One, a printed placard, was reduced to an eighth of an inch square, being perfectly legible under the microscope.”
The daguerreotype was not Dancer’s first excursion in photography. He observed that the “accounts given of the beautiful pictures (daguerreotypes).... induced me to abandon the photographic paper process.” We can assume from this that from 1839, or even earlier, Dancer had experimented with Talbot’s process. As with other individuals of this period Dancer would have been more impressed by the definition of the daguerreotype rather than the opportunity to make multiple prints offered by Talbot’s photogenic drawings. The links between Talbot and Dancer’s father are strong, with their mutual interest
in Arabic, Hebrew and cuneiform scripts. At the time of Dancer’s father’s death in 1835, a connection between Talbot and Dancer would have been established.
When in 1841 Dancer came to live in Manchester he realised that the daguerreotype process had not been practised in the city. He then sold daguerreotype ap- paratus and taught the process to John Dale, a chemist, and Joseph Sidebotham, a calico printer and dyer. From that time many Mancunians became amateur photog- raphers and “it soon became a popular amusement.” In November the same year, Richard Beard opened a Daguerreotype Portrait Gallery in rooms over the Manchester Exchange.
Dancer’s greatest claim to fame is his invention of microphotography. Dancer referred to his productions as microscopic photographs; the term microphotography was introduced following a public disagreement in the pages of the Liverpool and Manchester Photographic Journal over Dancer’s priority of the microphotograph between Joseph Sidebotham supporting Dancer and the Editor of the Journal, George Shadbolt. In 1839, only a few months after the introduction of the process, Dancer produced greatly reduced images on a Daguerreotype plate but these could only be usefully viewed at 20 diameters magnification. The image structure was too coarse and the reflectivity of the image may also have been too low for convenient examination at higher mag- nifications. Dancer’s earliest successful results date from February 1852, although there may be an argument for an earlier date, and were based on Scott Archer’s wet collodion process. This adequately fulfilled Dancer’s requirements and he soon produced minute images containing groups of portraits in a circle of 1/16 inch diameter. Dancer produced microphotographs com- mercially and sold the images mounted on a 3 inch × 1 inch microscope slide. Sir David Brewster exhibited Dancer’s microphotographs to the Academie des Sci- ences, Paris in 1857 and later in Paris and Rome. In Rome, Dancer’s microphotographs were shown to the Pope. Dancer also succeeded in producing graticule images by photographic means.
In 1852 Dancer invented a binocular stereoscopic camera. The idea had also been brought forward by Brewster in 1847. An instrument was actually made in 1849, the only known model of Dancer’s camera, but was destroyed in 1940. An improved version, an instanta- neous camera patented on 5 September 1856 (Patent No 2064), is better known. Its features included magazine loading, a spirit level and a double rotating shutter.
Dancer’s inventions and innovations were not lim- ited to photography. He was a passionate and talented inventor in many fields. He discovered the basis of electrotyping by depositing copper electrolytically on an engraved copper plate. In 1838 he introduced the porous pot for the Daniel cell, and these pots were later used in Leclanche cells. He crimped the plate of the Daniel cell to double its own area, and he produced ozone in 1838 but failed to recognise its significance. Also that year he invented the subdivision of secondary windings of an induction coil to produce choice output voltages, and he devised the magnetic circuit breaker. Among his other inventions is a shellac-coated card that could be used in place of glass in electrophorous and leyden jars. He invented a six-way tap to control the supply of gasses to dissolving lanterns, and introduced achro- matic projection lenses to magic lanterns. He supplied James Robertson with lanterns and gas equipment, and the Manchester Mechanics Institute with a dissolving limelight lantern.
He was the first person to supply achromatic micro- scopes for Boston, Optician of Liverpool, and he also made one for John Dalton. He introduced the Davies Shutter and constructed a binocular microscope for the Field Naturalist Society. Dancer is also known to have designed special lenses for his microscopes, and may have done so for camera lenses as well. He made im- provements to telescope mountings, rain gauges, speed indicators, surveyor’s levels and air pumps. He invented an apparatus for Sir Joseph Whitworth for checking the accuracy of rifle barrels. He developed an accurate ther- mometer for James Joule in 1843, and made apparatus for Joule’s determination of the mechanical equivalent by heat. He invented a fairy fountain; a multi-jet foun- tain illuminated from below with coloured lights and controlled by an electric keyboard.
Dancer’s most active years in terms of invention and innovation appear in the twenty years from 1837 to 1857. After this period his activities were devoted mostly to manufacture and refinement of earlier work. While he was well known and respected by his peers it is since his death in 1887 that he has disappeared into relative obscurity. In 1960 his great granddaughter received from the National Microfilm Association of America a posthumous Medal of Meritorious Service to the microfilm industry. Not only was John Benjamin Dancer the inventor of microphotography, in a very real sense he was the father of photography in the Greater Manchester area.
John Benjamin Dancer was born on 8 October 1812 in London, and died on 24 November 1887 in Manchester. He is buried in Brooklands Cemetery, Sale. His father Josiah Dancer was born in 1779, and had in turn worked under his father, Michael, who was a joiner. Josiah Dancer became an optician from 1817 and then moved to Liverpool where he died in 1835. Dancer joined the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society in
1842, being sponsored by John Dalton and was made an Honorary Member in 1884. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical Society in 1855 and appointed optician in Manchester to HRH the Prince of Wales in 1869. While, on occasions, he took photographs, Dancer never operated as a professional photographer. By trade he was a scientific and optical instrument maker taking over his father’s business in Liverpool in 1835 and moving to Manchester in 1841 to set up a similar business under the name of Abraham and Dancer. For the majority of his life in Manchester Dancer was in business on his own account at 43 Cross Street. In 1870 John Benjamin Dancer contracted diabetes, and his sight began to fail. After three operations for glaucoma, he gave up his business in 1878. The business transferred from Cross Street to Ardwick under his daughters, El- eanor Elizabeth and Catherine, and became E.E. Dancer & Company. On the 11th August 1896 it was sold to Richard Suter for £50.