For the wealthy Swiss amateur Jean-Gabriel Eynard, photography was a source of personal and familial amusement. He learned the daguerreotype process in Paris in the early 1840s and, aided by his gardener, Jean Rion, went on to create one of the most significant bodies of daguerreian work to survive. His engagement with photography would span more than twenty years.

In a series of more than one hundred daguerreotypes, Eynard, with Rion's assistance, sensitively recorded the multiple aspects of his daily existence at the Chateau Eynard in Geneva. The daguerreotype was the slowest and most tedious of the pioneer processes, and group portraits were particularly difficult because the attention of the subjects tended to wander. This makes all the more remarkable the high artistic quality of the scenes he recorded, such as this formal family portrait and the domestic portrait of his household staff (84.XT.255.13).
Adapted from Weston Naef, The J. Paul Getty Museum Handbook of the Photographs Collection (Los Angeles: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1995), 36. © 1995 The J. Paul Getty Museum.


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