Daguerreotype in frame, group picture of four children.
Date Created: 1850
Subject: Portrait, Group portrait, Portrait of children
More Information: The daguerreotype was the first commercially successful photographic method and was launched by Louis Daguerre and Nicéphore Niepce in 1839. It was popular until the 1860s, when it was superseded by procedures that were less complex and costly.
The technique was based on a direct positive exposure on a silver-coated copper plate. The image could not be duplicated, and was only visible if viewed from an angle. Exposure times were long, although they grew shorter as camera technology improved. The plate was very sensitive to touch and it was therefore necessary to preserve daguerreotypes under glass in either a case or frame. The mercury fumes to which the photographer was exposed during developing could, at worst, cause brain and nerve damage.
Despite the obvious drawbacks, daguerreotypes, if the conditions were right, could reproduce details with a clarity and richness that subsequent techniques could not achieve. Even today, after more than 170 years, there are enthusiasts producing daguerreotypes, using only slightly modified methods.
This daguerreotype was acquired in 1938. Its provenance is unknown, but it is likely to be of foreign origin.