Described by a contemporary as "the apostle of individuality in an age of association and compromise," author Henry David Thoreau followed his own moral compass and lived a life largely unfettered by convention. In such works as Walden and "Civil Disobedience," Thoreau encouraged readers to question popular wisdom and to seek universal truths from simple facts. When an admirer wrote from Michigan in 1856 asking for Thoreau's daguerreotype and enclosing money to defray its cost, the author reluctantly obliged. A visit to Maxham's Daguerrean Palace yielded this 50-cent portrait, which Thoreau dutifully sent to the requestor along with $1.70 in change.


  • Title: Henry David Thoreau
  • Creator: Benjamin D. Maxham
  • Date Created: 1856
  • Physical Dimensions: w4.7 x h6.3 cm (Image)
  • Type: Ninth-plate daguerreotype
  • Rights: National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution; gift of anonymous donor
  • External Link: https://npg.si.edu/portraits
  • Classification: Photograph

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps