History of photography

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History of photography
Abbe James
Allen Albert
Bailey David

Beaton Cecil
Cunningham Imogen
Carroll Lewis
Drtikol Frantisek
Duhrkoop Rudolf
Eisenstaedt Alfred
Feininger  Andreas
Halsman Philippe
Heartfield John
Horst P. Horst
Kasebier Gertrude
Kirkland Douglas
Lartigue Jacques Henri
Laughlin Clarence John


Maar Dora
Man Ray

Miller Lee
Munkacsi Martin


Outerbridge Paul


Rodchenko Alexander
Skoglund Sandy
Smith William Eugene
Smith Rodney
Tabard Maurice
  Watson Albert
History of photography, stereoscope method of recording the image of an object through the action of light, or related radiation, on a light-sensitive material. The word, derived from the Greek photos (“light”) and graphein (“to draw”), was first used in the 1830s.

General considerations

As a means of visual communication and expression, photography has distinct aesthetic capabilities. In order to understand them, one must first understand the characteristics of the process itself. One of the most important characteristics is immediacy. Usually, but not necessarily, the image that is recorded is formed by a lens in a camera. Upon exposure to the light forming the image, the sensitive material undergoes changes in its structure, a latent (but reversed) image usually called a negative is formed, and the image becomes visible by development and permanent by fixing with sodium thiosulfate, called “hypo.” With modern materials, the processing may take place immediately or may be delayed for weeks or months.

The essential elements of the image are usually established immediately at the time of exposure. This characteristic is unique to photography and sets it apart from other ways of picture making. The seemingly automatic recording of an image by photography has given the process a sense of authenticity shared by no other picture-making technique. The photograph possesses, in the popular mind, such apparent accuracy that the adage “the camera does not lie” has become an accepted, if erroneous, cliché.

This understanding of photography’s supposed objectivity has dominated evaluations of its role in the arts. In the early part of its history, photography was sometimes belittled as a mechanical art because of its dependence on technology. In truth, however, photography is not the automatic process that is implied by the use of a camera. Although the camera usually limits the photographer to depicting existing objects rather than imaginary or interpretive views, the skilled photographer can introduce creativity into the mechanical reproduction process. The image can be modified by different lenses and filters. The type of sensitive material used to record the image is a further control, and the contrast between highlight and shadow can be changed by variations in development. In printing the negative, the photographer has a wide choice in the physical surface of the paper, the tonal contrast, and the image colour. The photographer also may set up a completely artificial scene to photograph.

The most important control is, of course, the creative photographer’s vision. He or she chooses the vantage point and the exact moment of exposure. The photographer perceives the essential qualities of the subject and interprets it according to his or her judgment, taste, and involvement. An effective photograph can disseminate information about humanity and nature, record the visible world, and extend human knowledge and understanding. For all these reasons, photography has aptly been called the most important invention since the printing press.

George Eastman
George Eastman, (born July 12, 1854, Waterville, New York, U.S.—died March 14, 1932, Rochester, New York), American entrepreneur and inventor whose introduction of the first Kodak camera helped to promote amateur photography on a large scale.

After his education in the public schools of Rochester, New York, Eastman worked briefly for an insurance company and a bank. In 1880 he perfected a process of making dry plates for photography and organized the Eastman Dry Plate and Film Company for their manufacture. The first Kodak (a name he coined) camera was placed on the market in 1888. It was a simple handheld box camera containing a 100-exposure roll of film that used paper negatives. Consumers sent the entire camera back to the manufacturer for developing, printing, and reloading when the film was used up; the company’s slogan was “You press the button, we do the rest.” In 1889 Eastman introduced roll film on a transparent base, which has remained the standard for film. In 1892 he reorganized the business as the Eastman Kodak Company. Eight years later he introduced the Brownie camera, which was intended for use by children and sold for one dollar. By 1927 Eastman Kodak had a virtual monopoly of the photographic industry in the United States, and it has continued to be one of the largest American companies in its field.

Eastman gave away half his fortune in 1924. His gifts, which totaled more than $75 million, went to such beneficiaries as the University of Rochester (of which the Eastman School of Music is a part) and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was also one of the first business owners to introduce profit sharing as an employee incentive. Eastman took his own life at age 77, leaving a note that said, “My work is done. Why wait?” His home in Rochester, now known as George Eastman House, has become a renowned archive and museum of international photography as well as a popular tourist site.


Inventing the medium


The forerunner of the camera was the camera obscura, a dark chamber or room with a hole (later a lens) in one wall, through which images of objects outside the room were projected on the opposite wall. The principle was probably known to the Chinese and to ancient Greeks such as Aristotle more than 2,000 years ago. Late in the 16th century, the Italian scientist and writer Giambattista della Porta demonstrated and described in detail the use of a camera obscura with a lens. While artists in subsequent centuries commonly used variations on the camera obscura to create images they could trace, the results from these devices depended on the artist’s drawing skills, and so scientists continued to search for a method to reproduce images completely mechanically.

In 1727 the German professor of anatomy Johann Heinrich Schulze proved that the darkening of silver salts, a phenomenon known since the 16th century and possibly earlier, was caused by light and not heat. He demonstrated the fact by using sunlight to record words on the salts, but he made no attempt to preserve the images permanently. His discovery, in combination with the camera obscura, provided the basic technology necessary for photography. It was not until the early 19th century, however, that photography actually came into being.

Early experiments


Nicéphore Niépce, an amateur inventor living near Chalon-sur-Saône, a city 189 miles (304 km) southeast of Paris, was interested in lithography, a process in which drawings are copied or drawn by hand onto lithographic stone and then printed in ink. Not artistically trained, Niépce devised a method by which light could draw the pictures he needed. He oiled an engraving to make it transparent and then placed it on a plate coated with a light-sensitive solution of bitumen of Judea (a type of asphalt) and lavender oil and exposed the setup to sunlight. After a few hours, the solution under the light areas of the engraving hardened, while that under the dark areas remained soft and could be washed away, leaving a permanent, accurate copy of the engraving. Calling the process heliography (“sun drawing”), Niépce succeeded from 1822 onward in copying oiled engravings onto lithographic stone, glass, and zinc and from 1826 onto pewter plates.

In 1826/27, using a camera obscura fitted with a pewter plate, Niépce produced the first successful photograph from nature, a view of the courtyard of his country estate, Gras, from an upper window of the house. The exposure time was about eight hours, during which the sun moved from east to west so that it appears to shine on both sides of the building.

Niépce produced his most successful copy of an engraving, a portrait of Cardinal d’Amboise, in 1826. It was exposed in about three hours, and in February 1827 he had the pewter plate etched to form a printing plate and had two prints pulled. Paper prints were the final aim of Niépce’s heliographic process, yet all his other attempts, whether made by using a camera or by means of engravings, were underexposed and too weak to be etched. Nevertheless, Niépce’s discoveries showed the path that others were to follow with more success.

Nicephore Niepce
Nicephore Niepce, in full Joseph-Nicéphore Niépce (born March 7, 1765, Chalon-sur-Saône, France—died July 5, 1833, Chalon-sur-Saône), French inventor who was the first to make a permanent photographic image.

The son of a wealthy family suspected of royalist sympathies, Niépce fled the French Revolution but returned to serve in the French army under Napoleon Bonaparte. Dismissed because of ill health, he settled near his native town of Chalon-sur-Saône, where he remained engaged in research for the rest of his life.

In 1807 Niépce and his brother Claude invented an internal-combustion engine, which they called the Pyréolophore, explaining that the word was derived from a combination of the Greek words for “fire,” “wind,” and “I produce.” Working on a piston-and-cylinder system similar to 20th-century gasoline-powered engines, the Pyréolophore initially used lycopodium powder for fuel, and Niépce claimed to have used it to power a boat.

When lithography became a fashionable hobby in France in 1813, Niépce began to experiment with the then-novel printing technique. Unskilled in drawing, and unable to obtain proper lithographic stone locally, he sought a way to provide images automatically. He coated pewter with various light-sensitive substances in an effort to copy superimposed engravings in sunlight. From this he progressed in April 1816 to attempts at photography, which he called heliography (sundrawing), with a camera. He recorded a view from his workroom window on paper sensitized with silver chloride but was only partially able to fix the image. Next he tried various types of supports for the light-sensitive material bitumen of Judea, a kind of asphalt, which hardens on exposure to light. Using this material he succeeded in 1822 in obtaining a photographic copy of an engraving superimposed on glass. In 1826/27, using a camera, he made a view from his workroom on a pewter plate, this being the first permanently fixed image from nature. Metal had the advantage of being unbreakable and was better suited to the subsequent etching process to produce a printing plate, which was Niépce’s final aim. In 1826, he had produced another heliograph, a reproduction of an engraved portrait, which was etched by the Parisian engraver Augustin-François Lemaître, who pulled two prints. Thus Niépce not only solved the problem of reproducing nature by light, but he invented the first photomechanical reproduction process. While on a visit to England in 1827, Niépce addressed a memorandum on his invention to the Royal Society, London, but his insistence on keeping the method secret prevented the matter from being investigated.

Unable to reduce the very long exposure times by either chemical or optical means, Niépce in 1829 finally gave in to the repeated overtures of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, a Parisian painter, for a partnership to perfect and exploit heliography. Niépce died without seeing any further advance, but, building on his knowledge, and working with his materials, Daguerre eventually succeeded in greatly reducing the exposure time through his discovery of a chemical process for development of (making visible) the latent (invisible) image formed upon brief exposure.

Joseph Nicephore Niepce. View from His Window at Le Gras, c. 1827. Heliograph.
Gernsheim Collection.
Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.


Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre was a professional scene painter for the theatre. Between 1822 and 1839 he was coproprietor of the Diorama in Paris, an auditorium in which he and his partner Charles-Marie Bouton displayed immense paintings, 45.5 by 71.5 feet (14 by 22 metres) in size, of famous places and historical events. The partners painted the scenes on translucent paper or muslin and, by the careful use of changing lighting effects, were able to present vividly realistic tableaux. The views provided grand, illusionistic entertainment, and the amazing trompe l’oeil effect was purposely heightened by the accompaniment of appropriate music and the positioning of real objects, animals, or people in front of the painted scenery.

Like many other artists of his time, Daguerre made preliminary sketches by tracing the images produced by both the camera obscura and the camera lucida, a prism-fitted instrument that was invented in 1807. His attempt to retain the duplication of nature he perceived in the camera obscura’s ground glass led in 1829 to a partnership with Niépce, with whom he worked in person and by correspondence for the next four years. However, Daguerre’s interest was in shortening the exposure time necessary to obtain an image of the real world, while Niépce remained interested in producing reproducible plates. It appears that by 1835, three years after Niépce’s death, Daguerre had discovered that a latent image forms on a plate of iodized silver and that it can be “developed” and made visible by exposure to mercury vapour, which settles on the exposed parts of the image. Exposure times could thus be reduced from eight hours to 30 minutes. The results were not permanent, however; when the developed picture was exposed to light, the unexposed areas of silver darkened until the image was no longer visible. By 1837 Daguerre was able to fix the image permanently by using a solution of table salt to dissolve the unexposed silver iodide. That year he produced a photograph of his studio on a silvered copper plate, a photograph that was remarkable for its fidelity and detail. Also that year, Niépce’s son Isidore signed an agreement with Daguerre affirming Daguerre as the inventor of a new process, “the daguerreotype.”

In 1839 Niépce’s son and Daguerre sold full rights to the daguerreotype and the heliograph to the French government, in return for annuities for life. On August 19 full working details were published. Daguerre wrote a booklet describing the process, An Historical and Descriptive Account of the Various Processes of the Daguerreotype and the Diorama, which at once became a best seller; 29 editions and translations appeared before the end of 1839.


Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre

Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, (born Nov. 18, 1787, Cormeilles, near Paris, France—died July 10, 1851, Bry-sur-Marne), French painter and physicist who invented the first practical process of photography, known as the daguerreotype. Though the first permanent photograph from nature was made in 1826/27 by Nicéphore Niépce of France, it was of poor quality and required about eight hours’ exposure time. The process that Daguerre developed required only 20 to 30 minutes.

Daguerre was at first an inland revenue officer and then a scene painter for the opera. In 1822 at Paris he opened the Diorama, an exhibition of pictorial views, with various effects induced by changes in the lighting. A similar establishment that he opened in Regent’s Park, London, was destroyed by fire in 1839. Niépce, who since 1814 had been attempting to obtain permanent pictures by the action of sunlight, learned in 1826 of Daguerre’s efforts in the same field. The two became partners in the development of Niépce’s heliographic process from 1829 until the death of Niépce in 1833. Daguerre continued his experiments, and it was he who discovered that exposing an iodized silver plate in a camera would result in a lasting image if the latent image on the plate was developed by exposure to fumes of mercury and then fixed (made permanent) by a solution of common salt. On Jan. 9, 1839, a full description of his daguerreotype process was announced at a meeting of the Academy of Sciences by the eminent astronomer and physicist François Arago. Daguerre was appointed an officer of the Legion of Honour. In 1839 Daguerre and the heir of Niépce were assigned annuities of 6,000 francs and 4,000 francs, respectively, in return for their photographic process.

Louis JACQUES MANDE DAGUERRE. Boulevard du Temple, Paris, c. 1838.
Daguerreotype. Bayerisches NationaJmuscum, Munich.


The antecedents of photogenic drawing can be traced back to 1802, when Thomas Wedgwood, son of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, reported his experiments in recording images on paper or leather sensitized with silver nitrate. He could record silhouettes of objects placed on the paper, but he was not able to make them permanent. Sir Humphry Davy published a paper in the Journal of the Royal Institution, London, in June 1802, on the experiments of his friend Wedgwood; this was the first account of an attempt to produce photographs.

In 1833 the French-born photographer Hercules Florence worked with paper sensitized with silver salts to produce prints of drawings; he called this process “photography.” However, since he conducted his experiments in Brazil, apart from the major scientific centres of the time, his contributions were lost to history until 1973, when they were rediscovered. Others in Europe, including one woman, claimed to have discovered similar photographic processes, but no verifiable proof has come to light.

William Henry Fox Talbot, trained as a scientist at the University of Cambridge, could not draw his scientific observations, even with the aid of a camera lucida; this deficiency inspired him to invent a photographic process. He decided to try to record by chemical means the images he observed, and by 1835 he had a workable technique. He made paper light-sensitive by soaking it alternately in solutions of common salt (sodium chloride) and silver nitrate. Silver chloride was thus produced in the fibres of the paper. Upon exposure to light, the silver chloride became finely divided silver, dark in tone. Theoretically, the resulting negative, in which tonal and spatial values were reversed, could be used to make any number of positives simply by putting fresh sensitized paper in contact with the negative and exposing it to light. Talbot’s method of fixing the print by washing it in a strong solution of sodium chloride was inadequate, however, and the process was not successful until February 1839, when his astronomer friend Sir John Herschel suggested fixing the negatives with sodium hyposulphite (now called sodium thiosulfate) and waxing them before printing, which reduced the grain of the paper.

When news of Daguerre’s process reached England in January 1839, Talbot rushed publication of his “photogenic drawing” process and subsequently explained his technique in complete detail to the members of the Royal Society—six months before the French government divulged working directions for the daguerreotype.


William Henry Fox Talbot

William Henry Fox Talbot, (born Feb. 11, 1800, Melbury Sampford, Dorset, Eng.—died Sept. 17, 1877, Lacock Abbey, near Chippenham, Wiltshire), English chemist, linguist, archaeologist, and pioneer photographer. He is best known for his development of the calotype, an early photographic process that was an improvement over the daguerreotype of the French inventor L.-J.-M. Daguerre. Talbot’s calotypes involved the use of a photographic negative, from which multiple prints could be made; had his method been announced but a few weeks earlier, he and not Daguerre would probably have been known as the founder of photography.

Talbot was educated at Harrow and at Trinity College, Cambridge, and published many articles in the fields of mathematics, astronomy, and physics. He briefly served in Parliament (1833–34) and in 1835 published his first article documenting a photographic discovery, that of the paper negative. These so-called photogenic drawings were basically contact prints on light-sensitive paper, which unfortunately produced dark and spotty images. In 1840 he modified and improved this process and called it the calotype (later the talbotype). Unlike the original process, it used a much shorter exposure time and a development process following exposure. Talbot patented the process in 1841 and was reluctant to share his knowledge with others, which lost him many friends and much information. In 1842 Talbot received a medal from the British Royal Society for his experiments with the calotype.

Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature (1844–46), published in six installments, was the first book with photographic illustrations. Its 24 (of a proposed 50) plates document the beginnings of photography primarily through studies of art objects and architecture. In 1851 Talbot discovered a way of taking instantaneous photographs, and his “photolyphic engraving” (patented in 1852 and 1858), a method of using printable steel plates and muslin screens to achieve quality middle tones of photographs on printing plates, was the precursor to the development in the 1880s of the more successful halftone plates.


William Henry Fox Talbot. Cloisters, Lacock Abbey. 1843

William Henry Fox Talbot. Pantheon. 1843

William Henry Fox Talbot. Courtyard Scene. c. 1844

William Henry Fox Talbot. Ships at Low Tide. c. 1844

William Henry Fox Talbot. The Haystack. 1844-45

William Henry Fox Talbot. The Ladder. 1845

William Henry Fox Talbot. Henrietta Horatia Maria Feilding. c. 1845

Early views of the medium’s potential

Photography’s remarkable ability to record a seemingly inexhaustible amount of detail was marveled at again and again. Still, from its beginnings, photography was compared—often unfavourably—with painting and drawing, largely because no other standards of picture making existed. Many were disappointed by the inability of the first processes to record colours and by the harshness of the tonal scale. Critics also pointed out that moving objects were not recorded or were rendered blurry and indistinct because of the great length of time required for an exposure.

Despite these deficiencies, many saw the technique of photography as a shortcut to art. No longer was it necessary to spend years in art school drawing from sculpture and from life, mastering the laws of linear perspective and chiaroscuro. Others saw these realizations as threatening. For example, upon first seeing the daguerreotype process demonstrated, the academic painter Paul Delaroche declared, “From today, painting is dead”; although he would later realize that the invention could actually aid artists, Delaroche’s initial reaction was indicative of that of many of his contemporaries. Such artists at first feared what Daguerre boasted in a 1838 broadsheet: “With this technique, without any knowledge of chemistry or physics, one will be able to make in a few minutes the most detailed views.”

The revolution of technique


Daguerre’s process rapidly spread throughout the world. Before the end of 1839, travelers were buying daguerreotypes of famous monuments in Egypt, Israel, Greece, and Spain; engravings of these works were made and then published in two volumes as Excursions daguerriennes between 1841 and 1843. Although Daguerre’s process was published “free to the world” by the French government, he took out a patent for it in England; the first licensee was Antoine-François-Jean Claudet. The first daguerreotypes in the United States were made on September 16, 1839, just four weeks after the announcement of the process. Exposures were at first of excessive length, sometimes up to an hour. At such lengthy exposures, moving objects could not be recorded, and portraiture was impractical.

Experiments were begun in Europe and the United States to improve the optical, chemical, and practical aspects of the daguerreotype process to make it more feasible for portraiture, the most desired application. The earliest known photography studio anywhere opened in New York City in March 1840, when Alexander Wolcott opened a “Daguerrean Parlor” for tiny portraits, using a camera with a mirror substituted for the lens. During this same period, József Petzval and Friedrich Voigtländer, both of Vienna, worked on better lens and camera design. Petzval produced an achromatic portrait lens that was about 20 times faster than the simple meniscus lens the Parisian opticians Charles Chevalier and N.M.P. Lerebours had made for Daguerre’s cameras. Meanwhile, Voigtländer reduced Daguerre’s clumsy wooden box to easily transportable proportions for the traveler. These valuable improvements were introduced by Voigtländer in January 1841. That same month another Viennese, Franz Kratochwila, freely published a chemical acceleration process in which the combined vapours of chlorine and bromine increased the sensitivity of the plate by five times.

The first studio in Europe was opened by Richard Beard in a glasshouse on the roof of the Royal Polytechnic Institution in London on March 23, 1841. Unlike the many daguerreotypists who were originally scientists or miniature painters, Beard had been a coal merchant and patent speculator. Having acquired the exclusive British license for the American mirror camera (he later also purchased the exclusive rights to Daguerre’s invention in England, Wales, and the colonies), Beard employed the chemist John Frederick Goddard to try to improve and accelerate the exposure process. Among the techniques Goddard studied were two that Wolcott had tried: increasing the light sensitivity of the silver iodide with bromine vapours and filtering the blindingly bright daylight necessary for exposure through blue glass to ease the portrait sitter’s eye strain. By December 1840 Goddard had succeeded well enough to produce tiny portraits ranging in size from 0.4 inch (1 cm) in diameter to 1.5 by 2.5 inches (4 by 6 cm). By the time Beard opened his studio, exposure times were said to vary between one and three minutes according to weather and time of day. His daguerreotype portraits became immensely popular, and the studio made considerable profits the first few years, but competition soon appeared, and Beard lost his fortune in several lawsuits against infringers of his licenses.

The finest daguerreotypes in Britain were produced by Claudet, who opened a studio on the roof of the Royal Adelaide Gallery in June 1841. He was responsible for numerous improvements in photography, including the discovery that red light did not affect sensitive plates and could therefore be used safely in the darkroom. The improvements that had been made in lenses and sensitizing techniques reduced exposure times to approximately 20 to 40 seconds.

Daguerreotyping became a flourishing industry. Practitioners such as Hermann Biow and Carl Ferdinand Stelzner worked in Germany, and William Horn opened a studio in Bohemia in 1841. It was the United States, however, that led the world in the production of daguerreotypes. Portraiture became the most popular genre in the United States, and within this genre, standards of presentation began to develop. Certain parts of the daguerreotype portrait, usually the lips, eyes, jewelry, and occasionally the clothing, were hand-coloured, a job often done by women. Because of their fragile nature, daguerreotype images always were covered with glass and encased in a frame or casing made of leather-covered wood or gutta-percha, a plasticlike substance made from rubber.

In the late 1840s every city in the United States had its own “daguerrean artist,” and villages and towns were served by traveling photographers who had fitted up wagons as studios. In New York City alone there were 77 galleries in 1850. Of these, the most celebrated was that of Mathew B. Brady, who began in 1844 to form a “Gallery of Illustrious Americans,” a collection of portraits of notables taken by his own and other cameramen. Several of these portraits, including those of Daniel Webster and Edgar Allan Poe, were published by lithography in a folio volume.

In Boston, Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes opened a studio in 1843 that was advertised as “The Artists’ Daguerreotype Rooms”; here they produced the finest portraits ever made by the daguerreotype process. The partners avoided the stereotyped lighting and stiff posing formulas of the average daguerreotypist and did not hesitate to portray their sitters unprettified and “as they were.” For example, in his portrait Lemuel Shaw, a judge of the Supreme Court of Massachusetts, stands with a crumpled coat and unruly locks of hair under a glare of sunshine; in her portrait Lola Montez—adventurer, dancer, actress—lolls over the back of a chair, a cigarette between her gloved fingers.

Cities and towns, as well as their inhabitants, were also photographed by American daguerreotypists: the rapid growth of San Francisco was documented month by month, and the first history of the city, published in 1855, was illustrated with engravings made from daguerreotypes.

Daguerreotyping spread throughout the world during the 1850s as photographers from England, France, and the United States followed colonialist troops and administrators to the Middle East, Asia, and South America. Army personnel and commercial photographers portrayed foreign dignitaries, landscape, architecture, and monuments in order to show Westerners seemingly exotic cultures. Particularly notable were daguerreotypes made in Japan by the American photographer Eliphalet Brown, Jr., who accompanied the 1853–54 mission led by Matthew C. Perry to open Japan to Western interests.

While most of the initial photographic work in these places was by Westerners, by the 1860s local practitioners had begun to open studios and commercial establishments. Marc Ferrez in Brazil, Kusakabe Kimbei in Japan, the (French-born) Bonfils family in Lebanon, and Kassian Céphas in Indonesia were among the international photographers who set up studios to supply portraits and views during this period.

Southworth & Hawes,
Roebling, John Augustus: suspension bridge at Niagara Falls, New York [Credit: Southworth & Hawes—George Eastman House/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]firm established by two American photographers who collaborated to produce some of the finest daguerreotypes of the first half of the 19th century. Albert Sands Southworth (b. March 12, 1811, West Fairlee, Vt., U.S.—d. March 3, 1894, Charlestown, Mass.) and Josiah Johnson Hawes (b. Feb. 20, 1808, East Sudbury [now Wayland], Mass., U.S.—d. Aug. 7, 1901, Crawford’s Notch, N.H.) were especially known for portraits that captured the character of the sitter.

Southworth, Albert Sands [Credit: Southworth & Hawes—George Eastman House/Hulton Archive/Getty Images]Southworth was moderately wealthy and had attended Phillips Academy in Andover, Mass., before beginning a career as a pharmacist, whereas Hawes was an apprentice carpenter and amateur painter. Both men decided to become daguerreotypists when, in 1840, they independently viewed the first daguerreotype brought to the United States. They learned the process from François Gouraud, the U.S. agent of the French inventor Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, and in 1843 they opened a portrait studio together in Boston.

Unlike most portrait daguerreotypists of the mid-19th century—who were often more concerned with the quantity of their sales than with the quality of their portraits—Southworth and Hawes avoided contrived poses and painted backdrops. Instead, they gave each customer personal attention, making spontaneous portraits that revealed the personality of the sitter. For example, Lemuel Shaw, then chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court, was captured under a shaft of light that brought out rugged features that gave some sense of his dominant character. Southworth and Hawes were known for such creative use of light, which was in marked contrast to the bright, unflattering light then prevalent among daguerreotypists. They also developed methods that reduced exposure time, so as to avoid the stiff poses seen in most portraits of the time. The high quality of the work of Southworth and Hawes attracted many of the most prominent Americans of the day to their studio, including Senators Daniel Webster and Henry Clay and the writer Harriet Beecher Stowe. The two men also made daguerreotypes of landscapes, cityscapes, and scenes that were not then accepted as proper subjects of photography, such as hospital operating rooms.

In 1849 Southworth went to California in a futile attempt to find gold. When he returned to Boston, his failing health prevented him from working actively. In 1861 he ended his partnership with Hawes, who continued to photograph independently until his death.

IN THE YEAR 1839, two remarkable processes that would revolutionize our perceptions of reality were announced separately in London and Paris; both represented responses to the challenge of permanently capturing the fleeting images reflected into the camera obscura. The two systems involved the application of long-recognized optical and chemical principles, but aside from this they were only superficially related. The outcome of one process was a unique, unduplicatable, laterally reversed monochrome picture on a metal plate that was called a daguerreotype after one of its inventors, Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre. The other system produced an image on paper that was also monochromatic and tonally as well as laterally reversed—a negative. When placed in contact with another chemically treated surface and exposed to sunlight, the negative image was transferred in reverse, resulting in a picture with normal spatial and tonal values. The result of this procedure was called photogenic drawing and evolved into the calotype, or Talbotype, named after its inventor, William Henry Fox Talbot. For reasons to be examined later in the chapter, Talbot's negative-positive process initially was less popular than Daguerre's unique picture on metal, but it was Talbot's system that provided the basis for all substantive developments in photography.

JEAN BAPTISTE SABATIER-BLOT. Portrait of Louis Jacques Monde Daguerre, 1844. Daguerreotype. International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House. Rochester, N.Y.

Portrait of William Henry Fox Talbot, c. 1844.
Daguerreotype. Fox Talbot Museum, Lacock, England.
By the time it was announced in 1839, Western industrialized society was ready for photography. The camera's images appeared and remained viable because they filled cultural and sociological needs that were not being met by pictures created by hand. The photograph was the ultimate response to a social and cultural appetite for a more accurate and real-looking representation of reality, a need that had its origins in the Renaissance. When the idealized representations of the spiritual universe that inspired the medieval mind no longer served the purposes of increasingly secular societies, their places were taken by paintings and graphic works that portrayed actuality with greater verisimilitude. To render buildings, topography, and figures accurately and in correct proportion, and to suggest objects and figures in spatial relationships as seen by the eye rather than the mind, 15th-century painters devised a system of perspective drawing as well as an optical device called the camera obscura that projected distant scenes onto a flat surface—both means remained in use until well into the 19th century. Realistic depiction in the visual arts was stimulated and assisted also by the climate of scientific inquiry that had emerged in the 16th century and was supported by the middle class during the Enlightenment and the Industrial Revolution of the late 18th century. Investigations into plant and animal life on the part of anatomists, botanists, and physiologists resulted in a body of knowledge concerning the internal structure as well as superficial appearance of living things, improving artists' capacity to portray organisms credibly. As physical scientists explored aspects of heat, light, and the solar spectrum, painters became increasingly aware of the visual effects of weather conditions, sunlight and moonlight, atmosphere, and, eventually, the nature of color itself.

This evolution toward naturalism in representation can be seen clearly in artists' treatment of landscape. Considered a necessary but not very important clement in the painting of religious and classical themes in the 16th and 17th centuries, landscape had become valued for itself by the beginning of the 19th. This interest derived initially from a romantic view of the wonders of the universe and became more scientific as painters began to regard clouds, trees, rocks, and topography as worthy of close study, as exemplified in a pencil drawing of tree growth by Daguerre himself. When the English landscapist John Constable observed that "Painting is a science and should be pursued as an inquiry' into the laws of nature," he voiced a respect for truth that brought into conjunction the aims of art and science and helped prepare the way for photography. For if nature was to be studied dispassionately, if it was to be presented truthfully, what better means than the accurate and disinterested "eye" of the camera?

The aims of graphic art and the need for photography converged in yet another respect in the 19th century. In accord with the charge of French Realist painter Gustave Courbet that it was necessary "to be of one's time," many artists rejected the old historical themes for new subjects dealing with mundane events in contemporary life. In addition to renouncing traditional subject matter, they also sought new ways to depict figures in natural and lifelike poses, to capture ephemeral facial and gestural expression, and to represent effects of actual conditions of illumination—information that the camera image was able to record for them soon after the middle of the century.

Another circumstance that prepared the way for photography's acceptance was the change in art patronage and the emergence of a large new audience for pictorial images. As the church and noble families diminished in power and influence, their place as patrons of the arts was taken by the growing middle class. Less schooled in aesthetic matters than the aristocrats, this group preferred immediately comprehensible images of a variety of diverting subjects. To supply the popular demand for such works, engravings and (after 1820) lithographs portraying anecdotal scenes, landscapes, familiar structures, and exotic monuments were published as illustrations in inexpensive periodicals and made available in portfolios and individually without texts. When the photograph arrived on the scene, it slipped comfortably into place, both literally and figuratively, among these graphic images designed to satisfy middle-class cravings for instructive and entertaining pictures.

Though the birth of photography was accompanied by incertitude about scientific and technical matters and was plagued by political and social rivalries between the French and the British, the new pictorial technology appealed enormously to the public imagination from the first. As photographs increasingly came to depict the same kinds of imagery as engravings and lithographs, they superseded the handmade product because they were more accurate in the transcription of detail and less expensive to produce and therefore to purchase. The eagerness with which photography was accepted and the recognition of its importance in providing factual information insured unremitting efforts during the remainder of the century to improve its procedures and expand its functions.

The Daguerreotype

The invention of the daguerreotype was revealed in an announcement published in January, 1839, in the official bulletin of the French Academy of Sciences, after Daguerre had succeeded in interesting several scientist-politicians, among them Francois Arago, in the new process of making pictures. Arago was an eminent astronomer, concerned with the scientific aspects of light, who also was a member of the French Chamber of Deputies. As spokesman for an enlightened group convinced that researches in physics and chemistry were steppingstones to national economic supremacy, Arago engineered the purchase by France of the process that Daguerre had perfected on his own after the death of his original partner, Joseph Nicephore Niepce. Then on August 19, 1839, with the inventor at his side, Arago presented the invention to a joint meeting of the Academies of Sciences and of Fine Arts; the process was later demonstrated to gatherings of artists, intellectuals, and politicians at weekly meetings at the Conservatoire desArts et Metiers.


LEONARD-FRANCOIS BERGER. Portrait of Joseph Sktphore NUpce, 1854. Oil on Canvas. Musee Nicephore Nicpce,
Ville de Chalon-sur-Saone, France.
The marvel being unveiled was the result of years of experimentation that had begun in the 1820s when Niepce had endeavored to produce an image by exposing to light a treated metal plate that he subsequently hoped to etch and print on a press. He succeeded in making an image of a dovecote in an exposure that took more than eight hours, which accounts for the strange disposition of shadows on this now barely discernible first extant photo-graph. When his researches into heliography, as he called it, reached a standstill, he formed a partnership with the painter Daguerre, who, independently, had become obsessed with the idea of making the image seen in the camera obscura permanent. Daguerre's fascination with this prob-lem, and with the effects of light in general, is under-standable in view of his activities as a painter of stage sets and illusionistic scenery for The Diorama, a popular visual entertainment in Paris. Evolved from the panorama, a circular painted scene surrounding the viewers, The Diorama contrived to suggest three-dimensionality and atmospheric effects through the action of light on a scries of realistically painted flat scrims. The everyday world was effectively transcended as the public, seated in a darkened room, focused on a painted scene that genuinely appeared to be animated by storms and sunsets.

In promoting The Diorama into one of Europe's most popular entertainments, Daguerre had shown himself to be a shrewd entrepreneur, able to gauge public taste and balance technical, financial, and artistic considerations, and he continued this role with respect to the new invention. He understood, as his partner Niepce had not, that its progress and acceptance would be influenced as much by promotional skill as by intrinsic merit. After the death of Niepce in 1833, Daguerre continued working on the technical problems of creating images with light, finally achieving a practicable process that he offered to sell in 1838, first for a lump sum and then by subscription. When these attempts failed, he altered his course to a more politically inspired one, a move that culminated in the acquisition of the process by the French government and led to the painter's presence beside Arago at the gathering of notables in the Palace of the Institute in August, 1839.

In an electric atmosphere, Arago outlined Daguerre's methods of obtaining pictures (basically, by "exposing" a silver-coated copper plate sensitized in iodine vapor and "developing" its latent image by fuming in mercurv vapor), enumerated potential uses, and prophetically emphasized unforeseen developments to be expected. The making of inexpensive portraits was one possibility keenly desired, but in 1839 the length of time required to obtain a daguerreotype image ranged from five to 60 minutes, depending on the coloring of the subject and the strength of the light—a factor making it impossible to capture true human appearance, expression, or movement. For instance, in one of two views from his window of the Boulevard du Temple that Daguerre made in 1838, the only human visible is the immobile figure of a man with a foot resting on a pump, all other figures having departed the scene too quickly to have left an imprint during the relatively long exposure. Therefore, efforts to make the process practicable for portraiture were undertaken immediately.

Shortly after the public announcement, Daguerre published a manual on daguerreotyping, which proved to many of his readers that the process was more easily written about than executed. Nevertheless, despite the additional difficulty of transporting unwieldly cameras and equipment to suitable locales—not to mention the expenditure of considerable time and money—the process immediately attracted devotees among the well-to-do, who rushed to purchase newly invented cameras, plates, chemicals, and especially the manual—about 9,000 of which were sold within the first three months. Interest was so keen that within two years a variety of cameras, in addition to the model designed by Daguerre and produced by Alphonse Giroux in Paris, were manufactured in France, Germany, Austria, and the United States. Several knowledgeable opticians quickly designed achromatic (non-distorting) lenses for the new cameras, including the Chevalier brothers in Paris and Andrew Ross in London, all of whom had been providing optical glass for a wide range of other needs, as well as the Austrian scientist Josef Max Petzval, a newcomer. Focusing on monuments and scenery, daguerreotype enthusiasts were soon to be seen in such numbers in Paris, the countryside, and abroad that by December, 1839, the French press already characterized the phenomenon as a craze or "daguerreotypomanie".

One of the more accomplished of the gentlemen amateurs who were intrigued by daguerreotyping was Baron Jean Baptiste Louis Gros, who made the first daguerreotype images of the Parthenon while on a diplomatic mission to Greece in 1840. After returning to Paris, he was fascinated by his realization that, unlike hand-drawn pictures, camera images on close inspection yielded minute details of which the observer may not have been aware when the exposure was made; far removed from the Acropolis, he found that he could identify sculptural elements from the Parthenon by examining his daguerreotypes with a magnifying glass. The surpassing clarity of detail, which in fact still is the daguerreotype's most appealing feature, led Gros to concentrate on interior views and landscapes whose special distinction lies in their exquisite attention to details.

JEAN BAPTISTE LOUIS GROS. Bridge and Boats on the Thames, 1851.
Daguerreotype. Bibliotheque Nationak, Paris

At the August meeting of the Academies, Arago had announced that the new process would be donated to the world—the seemingly generous gift of the government of Louis Philippe, the Citizen King. However, it soon became apparent that before British subjects could use the process they would have to purchase a franchise from Daguerre's agent. Much has been written about the chauvinism of Daguerre and the French in making this stipulation, but it should be seen in the context of the unrelenting competition between the French and British ruling-classes for scientific and economic supremacy. The licensing provision reflected, also, an awareness among the French that across the Channel the eminent scientist Talbot had come up with another method of producing pictures by the interaction of light and chemicals.

Regularly scheduled demonstrations of Daguerre's process and an exhibition of his plates took place in London in October, 1839, at the Adelaide Gallery and the Royal Institution, the two forums devoted to popularizing new discoveries in science. Daguerre's manual, which had appeared in translation in September (one of 40 versions published within the first year), was in great demand, but other than portraitists, whose activities will be discussed in the next chapter, few individuals in England and Scotland clamored to make daguerreotypes for amusement. Talbot, aware since January of Daguerre's invention from reports in the French and British press and from correspondence, visited the exhibition at the Adelaide Gallery and purchased the equipment necessary for making daguerreo-types; however, even though he praised it as a "splendid" discovery, he does not appear to have tried out the process.

Reaction to the daguerreotype in German-speaking cities was both official and affirmative, with decided interest expressed by the ruling monarchs of Austria and Prussia. Returning from a visit to Paris in April, 1839, Louis Sachse, owner of a lithographic firm, arranged for French cameras, plates, and daguerreotype images to be sent to Berlin by mid-year; a few months later, views taken with locally constructed apparatus also were being shown. However, even though urban scenes in a number of cities were recorded quite early, among them an 1851 view of Berlin by Wilhelm Halffter, daguerreotyping for personal enjoyment was less prevalent in Central Europe because the bourgeoisie were neither as affluent nor as industrially advanced as their French counterparts. As in all countries, German interest in the daguerreotype centered on expectations for a simple way to make portraits.

WILHELM HALFFTER. Statue of Frederick the Great, Berlin, May 31, 1851.
Daguerreotype. Agfa-Gcvacrt Foto-Historama, Cologne, Germany.

Avid interest in the new picture-making process, a description of which had appeared in scientific journals following the January announcement in Paris, motivated Anton Martin, librarian of the Vienna Polytechnic Institute, to attempt daguerreotype images in the summer of 1839, even before Daguerre had fully disclosed his procedures or had his plates exhibited in Vienna that fall. Winter Landscape, a view made two years later by Martin, is mundane in subject matter and artlessly organized. But by the 1830s this kind of scene already had begun to appeal to artists, and it is possible that the documentary camera image, exemplified by this work, hastened the renunciation of romantic themes and bravura treatment of topographical scenes in the graphic arts.

ANTON MARTIN. Winter Landscape, Vienna, c. 1841.
Daguerreotype. Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg

One of the earliest Europeans to embrace and extend the possibilities of the daguerreotype was the Swiss engraver Johann Baptist Isenring who, between 1840 and 1843, exhibited plates of native scenery, colored by hand, in Augsburg, Munich, Stuttgart, and Vienna. He also was among the first to publish aquatint views based on daguerreotypes, signaling the form in which the unique image would begin to reach a larger public. His subject matter, too, anticipated the attraction that Continental landscape was to have for a great many photographers working between 1850 and 1880, many of whom continued the tradition begun in the late 18th century of publishing landscape views.

Curiosity about the new picture processes was pronounced among scientists, artists, and travelers in Italy. In addition to translations of French manuals, which started to appear in 1840, visitors from the north brought along that own equipment for bytli the daguerreotype and Talbot's negative-positive process. Among the early Italian daguerrconpists. Lorenzo Suscipj was commissioned to make views of the Roman mini for English philologist Alexander John Ellis. Indeed, the presence of classical ruins and die interesting mb, of French, British, German, and American nationals living and traveling in Rome and Florence during mid-century gave Italian photography in all processes a unique character in that the rapid com-mercialization of scenic views and genre subjects became possible. For example, within ten years of the introduction of photography, camera images had taken the place of the etchings engravings and lithographs of ruins that tourist traditionally had purchased.

As one moved farther east and north from Paris daguerreotyping activity became less common. News of the discovery, reprinted from the January notices in the French press, reached Croatia, Hungary Lidiuania. and Serbia in February, 1839, and Denmark. Estonia, Finland, and Po-land during the summit, with the result that a number of scientific papers on the process began to appear in these localities. In Russia experimentation succeeded in producing a less expensive method of obtaining images on nipper and brass rather dian silver., and by 1845 a Russian dague-rcotypist felt confident enough to exhibit landscape views of the Caucasus Mountains in in Paris show. Nevertheless, early photography in all these distant realms reflected the absence of a large and stable middle class. Only in the three primary industrial powers—England, France, and die United States—was this group able to sustain die investment of time and energy necessary to do clop the medium technically and in terms of significant use.


The Daguerreotype in America

As had been the case with other technologies originat-ing in Europe, Americans not only embraced the daguerreotype, but quickly proceeded to turn it to commercial advantage. The view that "the soft finish and delicate definition of a Daguerreotype has never yet been equalled by any other style of picture produced by actinic agency," which appeared in the photographic magazine Humphrey's Journal in 1859, was only one expression of an opinion held especially by the first generation of American photographers. Daguerreotyping remained the process of choice for 20 years—long beyond the time that Europeans had turned to the more flexible negative-positive technology. The reasons for this loyalty are not entirely clear, but a contributing factor must have been the excellent quality attained by American daguerreotypists. The sparkling North American light, envied by fogenshrouded Londoners, was said to have been partly responsible, but social and cultural factors undoubtedly were more significant. Considered a mirror of reality, the crisp, realistic detail of the daguerreotype accorded with the taste of a society that distrusted handmade art as hinting of luxuriousness and was enamored of almost everything related to practical science. With its mixture of mechanical tinkering and chemical cookery, the daguerreotype posed an appealing challenge to a popu-lace that was upwardly and spatially mobile despite periods of economic depression. As a means of livelihood, it combined easily with other manual occupations such as case-or watchmaking, and those who wished to follow a western star were to find it a practicable occupation while on the move.

Some Americans had higher aspirations for the daguerreotype. As an image produced by light, it appeared in their minds to conjoin the Emersonian concept of the "divine hand of nature" with the practicality of scientific positivism. Some hoped that the new medium might help define the unique aspects of American history and experience as expressed in the faces of the citizenry. Others believed that because it was a picture made by machine it would avoid too great artifice and, at the same time, would not demonstrate the obvious provinciality of outlook and training that often characterized native graphic art at mid-century.

The daguerreotype reached America after it had been seen and praised by Samuel F. B. Morse, a skillful painter who also invented the electromagnetic telegraph. His enthusiastic advocacy in letters to his brother in the spring of 1839 helped spur interest in the first manuals and descriptions that arrived in New York late in September by packet ship from England. By early October, details were available in the press, enabling Morse and others to attempt daguerreotyping, but although he worked with esteemed scientist John William Draper and taught others, including Mathew Brady, few images produced by Morse himself have survived.

PHOTOGRAPHER UNKNOWN. Portrait of Samuel F. B. Morse, c. 1845. Daguerreotype. Collection Mrs. Joseph Carson, Philadelphia.

Another factor that contributed to the rapid improvement of the daguerreotype in the United States was the arrival in November, 1839, of the French agent Francois Gouraud, with franchises for the sale of equipment. His demonstrations, along with exhibitions of Daguerre's images, evoked interest in the many cities where they were held, even though Americans did not consider it necessary to purchase rights or use authorized equipment in order to make daguerreotypes. As in Europe, technical progress was associated with portraiture, but improvement also was apparent in images of historical and contemporary monuments and structures. Owing to the primitive nature of his equipment and the experimental state of the technique, engraver Joseph Saxton's very early view of the Arsenal and Cupola of the Philadelphia Central High School, made in October, 1839, is not nearly as crisply defined as John Plumbe's Capitol Building of 1845/46 and William and Frederick Langenheim's 1844 View of the Girard Bank, occupied by the Philadelphia Militia.

JOSEPH SAXTON. Arsenal and Cupola, Philadelphia Central High School, October 16, 1839.
Daguerreotype. Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia.

JOHN PLUMBE. Capitol Building, Washington, D.C., 1845-46.
Daguerreotype. Library' of Congress, Washington, D.C.

ILLIAM and FREDERICK LANGENHEIM. Gtrard Bank, May, 1844.
Daguerreotype. Library Company of Philadelphia.

Plumbe, a visionary businessman who built and then lost a small daguerrcotyping empire, was interested mainly in portraits, but the Langenheim brothers, of German extraction, hoped to improve American photographic technology by introducing German daguerreotype cameras, the calotype, and photography on glass. John Adams Whipple, of Boston, was similarly concerned with expanding the frontiers of the medium. In addition to a partnership in a fine portrait practice, Whipple attempted to make daguerreotypes by artificial light and to experiment with images on albumencoated glass. His special interest was astrophotography; in March, 1851, after three years of experimentation, he produced successful daguerreotypes of the moon. The Langenheims and Whipple were among the small group of Americans who realized the drawbacks of the daguerreotype; the populace, however, was too engrossed by the seeming fidelity of "the mirror with a memory" to deplore its limitations.

Daguerreotype. Science Museum, London.



The popularity of the daguerreotype surpassed that of the photogenic drawing, but Talbot, convinced of the value of duplicability, continued to work to improve his process. On September 21–23, 1840, while experimenting with gallic acid, a chemical he was informed would increase the sensitivity of his prepared paper, Talbot discovered that the acid could be used to develop a latent image. This discovery revolutionized photography on paper as it had revolutionized photography on metal in 1835. Whereas previously Talbot had needed a camera exposure of one hour to produce a 6.5-by-8.5-inch (16.5-by-21.6-cm) negative, he now found that one minute was sufficient. Developing the latent image made photography on paper as valued as the daguerreotype, although the image still was not as clearly defined. Talbot named his improved negative process the calotype, from the Greek meaning “beautiful picture,” and he protected his discoveries by patent.

The first aesthetically satisfying use made of this improved process was in the work of David Octavius Hill, a Scottish landscape painter, and his partner, Robert Adamson, an Edinburgh photographer. In 1843 Hill decided to paint a group portrait of the ministers who in that year formed the Free Church of Scotland; in all, there were more than 400 figures to be painted. Sir David Brewster, who knew of Talbot’s process from the inventor himself, suggested to Hill that he make use of this new technique. Hill then enlisted the aid of Adamson, and together they made hundreds of photographs, not only of the members of the church meeting but also of people from all walks of life. Although their sitters were posed outdoors in glaring sunlight and had to endure exposures of upward of a minute, Hill and Adamson managed to retain a lifelike vitality. Hill’s aesthetic was dominated by the painting style of the period in lighting and posing, particularly in the placement of the hands; in many of Hill’s portraits, both the sitter’s hands are visible, placed in a manner meant to add grace and liveliness to a dark portion of an image. Indeed, many of his calotypes are strikingly reminiscent of canvases by Sir Henry Raeburn and other contemporary artists. Proving the calotype’s artistic qualities, William Etty, a royal academician, copied in oils the calotype Hill and Adamson made of him in 1844 and exhibited it as a self-portrait. In addition to their formal portraiture, the partners made a series of photographs of fishermen and their wives at Newhaven and in Edinburgh, as well as architectural studies.

The calotype, which lent itself to being manipulated by chemicals and paper, was used in the 1850s to create exceptionally artistic images of architectural monuments.

Hill and Adamson, Scottish photographers who collaborated to produce some of the greatest photographic portraits of the 19th century. David Octavius Hill (b. 1802, Perth, Perthshire, Scot.—d. May 17, 1870, Newington, near Edinburgh) and Robert Adamson (b. April 26, 1821, St. Andrews, Scot.—d. Jan. 1848, St. Andrews) were also known for their photographs of Edinburgh.

Originally a landscape painter, Hill made a name for himself at age 19 by publishing a series of lithographic landscapes. He was a founding member of the Royal Scottish Academy and was secretary of that organization for 40 years.

In 1843 he began to paint a large commemorative picture of the signing of the Deed of Demission, the act that marked the founding of the Free Church of Scotland. In order to get an accurate record of the features of the several hundred delegates to the founding convention, Hill decided to make photographic portraits and enlisted the collaboration of Robert Adamson, a young chemist who for a year had been experimenting with the calotype, a then-revolutionary photographic process that created the first “negative” from which multiple prints could be made. While Hill and Adamson made portraits of the delegates, most of the prominent Scots of the day came to watch the novel proceedings and have their own portraits made.

The duo preferred the calotype to the daguerreotype because it was less expensive. The calotype also suppressed details and allowed the photographer to control lighting, expression, and gesture and thereby to emphasize the sitter’s personality. The portraits of George Meikle Kemp (before 1845), architect of the Sir Walter Scott Monument in Edinburgh, and of the sculptor John Henning (before 1849), show a masterful sense of form and composition and dramatic use of light and shade.

Hill and Adamson did not restrict their activities to photographing Scotland’s elite. They recorded many views of Edinburgh, especially in Greyfriars’ Churchyard, and they also went to small fishing villages and photographed local residents.

After Adamson’s premature death at age 27, Hill temporarily abandoned photography and returned to painting. Between 1861 and 1862 he collaborated with Alexander McGlashan on a series of images made with collodion-glass negatives.


Stereoscopic photographic views (stereographs) were immensely popular in the United States and Europe from about the mid-1850s through the early years of the 20th century. First described in 1832 by English physicist Sir Charles Wheatstone, stereoscopy was improved by Sir David Brewster in 1849. The production of the stereograph entailed making two images of the same subject, usually with a camera with two lenses placed 2.5 inches (6 cm) apart to simulate the position of the human eyes, and then mounting the positive prints side by side laterally on a stiff backing. Brewster devised a stereoscope through which the finished stereograph could be viewed; the stereoscope had two eye pieces through which the laterally mounted images, placed in a holder in front of the lenses, were viewed. The two images were brought together by the effort of the human brain to create an illusion of three-dimensionality.

Stereographs were made of a wide range of subjects, the most popular being views of landscapes and monuments and composed narrative scenes of a humorous or slightly suggestive nature. Stereoscopes were manufactured for various price ranges and tastes, from the simple hand-held device introduced by Oliver Wendell Holmes (who promoted stereography through articles in The Atlantic Monthly) to elaborate floor models containing large numbers of images that could be flipped into place. The stereograph became especially popular after Queen Victoria expressed interest in it when it was exhibited at the 1851 Crystal Palace Exposition. Like television today, stereography during the second half of the 19th century was both an educational and a recreational device with considerable impact on public knowledge and taste.


Photography was revolutionized in 1851 by the introduction of the wet collodion process for making glass negatives. This new technique, invented by the English sculptor Frederick Scott Archer, was 20 times faster than all previous methods and was, moreover, free from patent restrictions. Paper prints could easily be made from glass-plate negatives. The process had one major drawback: the photographer had to sensitize the plate almost immediately before exposure and expose it and process it while the coating was moist. Collodion is a solution of nitrocellulose (guncotton) in alcohol and ether; when the solvents evaporate, a clear plasticlike film is formed. Since it is then impervious to water, the chemicals used for developing the exposed silver halides and removing the unexposed salts cannot penetrate the coating to act upon them. The wet collodion process was almost at once universally adopted because it rendered detail with great precision that rivaled that of the daguerreotype. It reigned supreme for more than 30 years and greatly increased the popularity of photography, despite the fact that it was unequally sensitive to different colours of the spectrum.

At first the positive prints made from the glass plate negatives were produced by Talbot’s salt paper method, but from the mid-1850s on they were made on albumen paper. Introduced in 1850 by Louis-Désiré Blanquart-Evrard, albumen paper is a slow printing-out paper (i.e., paper that produces a visible image on direct exposure, without chemical development) that had been coated with egg white before being sensitized. The egg white gave the paper a glossy surface that improved the definition of the image.

A new style of portrait utilizing albumen paper, introduced in Paris by André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri in 1854, was universally popular in the 1860s. It came to be called the carte-de-visite because the size of the mounted albumen print (4 by 2.5 inches [10.2 by 6 cm]) corresponded to that of a calling card. Disdéri used a four-lens camera to produce eight negatives on a single glass plate. Each picture could be separately posed, or several exposures of the same pose could be made at once. The principal advantage of the system was its economy: to make eight portraits the photographer needed to sensitize only a single sheet of glass and make one print, which was then cut up into separate pictures. At first cartes-de-visite almost invariably showed the subjects standing. Over time, backgrounds became ornate: furniture and such architectural fragments as papier-mâché columns and arches were introduced, and heavy-fringed velvet drapes were hung within range of the camera. With the advent of the cabinet-size (6.5 by 4 inches [16.5 by 10.2 cm]) picture in 1866, the decorative strategies of the photographer became yet more pronounced, so that in 1871 a photographer wrote: “One good, plain background, disrobed of castles, piazzas, columns, curtains and what not, well worked, will suit every condition of life.”

The new wet collodion process was also used to produce positive images on glass called ambrotypes, which were simply underexposed or bleached negatives that appeared positive when placed against a dark coating or backing. In pose and lighting, these popular portraits were similar to daguerreotypes in sizes and were enclosed in similar types of cases. They did not approach the brilliancy of the daguerreotype, however.

Tintypes, first known as ferrotypes or melainotypes, were cheap variations of the ambrotype. Instead of being placed on glass, the collodion emulsion was coated on thin iron sheets that were enameled black. At first they were presented in cases, surrounded by narrow gilt frames, but by the 1860s this elaborate presentation had been abandoned, and the metal sheets were simply inserted in paper envelopes, each with a cutout window the size of the image. Easy to make and inexpensive to purchase, tintypes were popular among soldiers in the Civil War and remained a form of folk art throughout the 19th century. Poses of sitters in tintypes were often informal and sometimes humorous. Because they were cheap and easy to produce, tintypes became a popular form of street photography well into the 20th century. Street-corner photographers, often equipped with a donkey, were common in European countries.

Andre-Adolphe-Eugene Disderi
André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri, (born March 28, 1819, Paris, France—died Oct. 4, 1889, Paris), French photographer noted for his popularization of the carte-de-visite, a small albumen print mounted on a 21/2 × 4 inch (6 × 10.2 cm) card and used as a calling card.

Although Disdéri sought a career in the arts, the death of his father obligated him to turn to the business world to support first his mother and siblings and then his own wife, Geneviève Elizabeth Francart, and his children. He left Paris for the city of Brest, in western France, during the Revolution of 1848. There, with his wife, he opened a photographic studio and made daguerreotypes. Leaving his wife to manage the Brest studio, he moved to Nîmes and began to use the recently developed wet collodion process for a variety of subjects in addition to portraits. These included picturesque groups of beggars and ragpickers and less artistic shots of athletes and labourers.

By 1854 Disdéri was back in Paris as owner of the largest photography studio in the city. That year, he patented the small-format carte-de-visite, which filled a need for portraits that could be captured rapidly and inexpensively. As the name implies, it was derived from the calling cards used by the middle and upper classes in paying social calls. The suggestion that such cards might bear the caller’s image prompted Disdéri to invent a method of using a single camera with four lenses and a divided septum to produce multiple portraits on a single plate. When printed, the images, which allowed for variations in pose, could be cut apart and pasted on small cardboard mounts. Although this production method made portraiture affordable for the lower middle-class, the fact that royalty and celebrities sat for such portraits made them instantly collectible. Disdéri gained a considerable fortune from this popularity, while the effect of the portraits on French Second Empire society also was notable. By 1868, interest in the cartes had faded, and he moved on to other portrait formats, none of which brought him further financial success.

André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri.
„Les Jambes de l'opera, Mosaïque Breveté s.d.g.d.“, circa 1862


André-Adolphe-Eugène Disdéri.
The Calotype

For much of its existence, photography has been understood by most to be a process resulting in a negative image that can be replicated almost endlessly to produce positives in which tonal and spatial values are in normal relationship. Using the same matrix, the picture can be made larger and, because of the light weight of the support (paper, fabric, plastic), it can be inserted into books and albums, attached to documents, and sent through the mails, as well as framed and hung on the wall. The photograph's physical and utilitarian advantages over the daguerreotype are so obvious that it may seem incredible that when first announced the negative-positive process took a most definite second place in the public mind.

The reasons are complex, involving timing, technique of production, aesthetic standards, and social factors. Photogenic drawing, as Talbot first called the paper image, was made public by the inventor in London in February, 1839, only after the news of Daguerre's discovery had been relayed from across the Channel. For most people, the potential value of replication may have seemed too abstract an idea at the time, while the actual process of turning negative into positive was perceived as rather complicated. Most important, however, was the fact that—even to Talbofs most ardent supporters—the fuzziness of his earliest results was demonstrably less pleasing than the finely detailed daguerreotype image. Furthermore, the French invention, sponsored by scientist-politicians, had received official government sanction while Talbot had to steer his discovery himself through the quicksands of the British scientific and patenting establishments, at the same time pursuing improvements and attempting to realize a commercial return.

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT. Latticed Window at Lacock Abbey, 1835. Photogenic drawing.
Fox Talbot Collection, Science Museum, London.

A patrician background and university training had enabled Talbot to become involved with the most advanced thinking of his time. This resourceful scientist was drawn more to astronomy, mathematics, and optics than to chemistry (which in any case was barely a discipline at the time), and his interests also embraced linguistics and literature. For a man of science he was a somewhat romantic and antisocial figure who traveled incessantly; it was while sketching on a honeymoon trip to Italy in 1833 that he conceived the notion of making permanent the image visible on the translucent ground-glass surface of the camera obscura. Taking up this idea on his return to England, Talbot managed first to expose and thereby transfer leaf forms directly onto chemically sensitized paper. Then, in the summer of 1835, with treated paper nserted in small specially constructed cameras, he succeeded in producing a number of negatives of his ancestral tome, Lacock Abbey, including a tiny postage-stamp-size Lmage of a latticed window with diamond panes initially distinct enough to count.

In common with Daguerre, Talbot first used a solution of ordinary table salt to stop the continuing action of light on the silver deposits, but it was not until both inventors had switched to hyposulphite of soda (hypo, as it is still called even though its scientific name is now sodium thiosulphate) that the unexposed silver salts were completely removed and the image satisfactorily stabilized. This characteristic of hypo had been discovered in 1819 by lohn Herschel (later knighted), a prominent astronomer, physical scientist, and friend of Talbot, who informed both inventors of this fact. Herschel's contributions to the chemistry of photography reveal both scientific brilliance and distinterested generosity. Returning in 1838 after several years as an independent researcher in South Africa where he had himself made drawings with optical devices, Herschel learned of the experiments in England and France to produce images by the action of light. He proceeded to conduct his own intensive researches to discover the effectiveness of different silver halides and other chemicals, among them ferric salts from which cyanotypes, or blueprints, are made. Herschel's suggestions with regard to terminology were especially effective in that he convinced Talbot to consider, instead of photogenic drawing, the broader term photography—light writing—a term believed to have been first used by both the Brazilian Hercules Florence and the German astronomer Johann H. von Maedler. Herschel also coined the terms negative and positive to refer to the inverse and reverted images that were basic to the system. Had he wished, he probably could have arrived at a patent-able process at the same time as Talbot, but his interests lay elsewhere. His intellectual openness has been contrasted with Talbot's more secretive attitudes, but the two were mutual admirers, with Herschel refreshingly liberal about sharing the experimental results of his genius.

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT. Botanical Specimen, 1839.
Photogenic drawing. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.

The report in January, 1839, of Daguerre's discovery forced Talbot to make public his process even though he had done little work on it since 1837. His initial announcements, made to the Royal Society, the Royal Institution, and the French Academy of Sciences at the end of January and in February were received with interest and evoked a small flurry of excitement among a few individuals in the scientific community and in Talbot's circle of family and friends. However, in comparison with the verisimilitude of the finely detailed daguerreotype, this image, incorporating the texture intrinsic to its paper support, was too broad and indistinct to have wide appeal despite Talbot's description of the effect as "Rembrandtish."

Another disadvantage at first was the length of time required to make an exposure. Talbot had not then discovered the possibility of latent development, a procedure Daguerre had stumbled on, whereby the image, invisible on the exposed plate or paper, was made to appear by treatment with a chemical solution (developer). When he did discover this in the fall of 1840, his exposure time was decreased from about half an hour to as little as 30 seconds on a very bright day, making possible portraiture and a much broader selection of subjects and atmospheric effects, as seen in one of the inventor's early views of London.

In 1841 Talbot took out the first of his patents," using the word calotype to describe the resulting image, which he also referred to as a Talbotype. This action initiated a ten-year period during which English scientific and artistic endeavor in photography became entangled in problems of commercial exploitation. Both during his lifetime and long afterward, Talbot was accused of obstructing the development of photography because of his intransigence with regard to the four patents he held on the calotyping process. Critics have suggested that he regarded them as covering all advances in photographic technology occur-ring between 1841 and 1851 and that he included as his own the contributions of others, in particular Herschel's suggestion of hyposulphite of soda as a fixer. However, Talbot's biographer, H. J. P. Arnold, notes that a close reading of the language indicates that the patents protected methods of utilizing substances rather than the chemical agents themselves.

Talbot himself was caught up in a controversy over the moral and practical effects of patenting inventions, a dilemma that occupied the British from mid-century on. While some individuals maintained that patent fees were too high and rules too lax for protection, others argued that patents were indefensible because inventions "depended less on any individual than on progress in society." Talbot may have agreed, but he patented his processes because, like countless others in Britain, France, and the United States at the time, he considered that those who had invested considerable effort should reap the material rewards of their genius and industry. That he did not benefit financially was because he was an indifferent businessman with a more compelling interest in intellectual matters—an attitude bolstered by the fact that he could count on income from his landed estate. Neither the surge of amateurs photographing in calotype for their own plea-sure nor the utilization of the process for commercial portraiture materialized. Among the well-to-do who did take up calotyping were Talbot's wife Constance, his Welsh relatives Emma and John Dillwyn Llewelyn, and two friends, the Reverends Calvert Richard Jones and George W. Bridges, both of whom conceived the idea of making a calotype record of their travels abroad.

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT. The Nelson Column, Trafalgar Square, London, under Construction, c. 1843.
Salted paper print from a calotype negative. Fox Talbot Collection, Science Museum, London.

Paper photography occasioned a more significant response in Scotland where no licensing arrangements were necessary. With the help of Sir David Brewster, an eminent scientist who corresponded frequently with Talbot, Robert Adamson, a young Scottish chemist, was able to perfect the calotype technique and open a studio in Edinburgh in 1841. Two years later, he and painter-lithographer David Octavius Hill began to produce calotypes; these images, mainly portraits, still are considered among the most expressive works in the medium.

Talbot, though disinclined to pursue the commercial exploitation of his discovery actively, was keenly concerned with the potential uses of the medium. In setting up a publishing establishment at Reading under the super-vision of Nicolaas Henneman, an assistant he personally had trained, Talbot promoted the use of the photographic print itself in book and magazine illustration. The Pencil of Suture, issued serially between 1844 and 1846 with text and pictorial material supplied by Talbot, was the first publication to explain and illustrate the scientific and practical applications of photography. One of the plates, The Open Door was singled out in the British press for its exceptional tonal range and textural fidelity, its "microscopic execution that sets at nought the work of human hands."

Talbot regarded photography as important primarily for its role in supplying visual evidence of facts, but this "soliloquy of the broom," as Talbot's mother called The Open Door, reveals a telling interest in the artistic treatment of the mundane. Along with the theme, the careful attention to the way light and shadow imbue a humble scene with picturesque dimension suggests the inventor's familiarity with examples of Dutch genre painting of the 17th century—works that enjoyed considerable esteem in Victorian England and, in fact, were specifically mentioned in the Pencil of Nature. Several other calotype images in the same style bear witness to Talbot's conviction that photography might offer an outlet for artistic expression to those without the talent to draw or paint.

Other publications by Talbot included Sun Pictures of Scotland, for which he made 23 photographs in 1844, and Annals of Artists in Spain, the first book to utilize the photograph for reproducing works of art. However, he disposed of the Reading firm in 1848 because of managerial and technical problems in running a large-scale photographic printing enterprise, not the least of which was the fact that calotypes were subject to fading. This instability was to trouble photographers who worked with paper prints throughout the next 25 years.

In France, where the daguerreotype held the general populace enthralled, artists were greatly interested in the calotype. In their view, the paper process offered a greater range of choices within which one might fashion an affective image. In addition to view, pose, and lighting—the sole aesthetic decisions for the daguerreotypist—the calotypist could exercise interpretive judgment in the production of subsequent prints from the same negative. Aesthetic decisions concerning tonality and coloration could be made by adjustments in the toning and sensitizing baths and by the choice of paper itself, while retouching on the negative (or print) could alter forms. In this respect, the paper process called to mind traditional procedures in etching and engraving, lending the calotype greater esteem among those interested in photography as a creative pursuit.

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT. The Open Door, 1843. Salted paper print from a calotype negative.
(Plate VI, The Pencil of Nature, 1844-46.) Fox Talbot Collection, Science Museum, London.

Other Developments in Paper Photography

Actually, a paper process had been discovered independently in France. Early in 1839, Hippolyte Bayard, a civil servant in the Ministry of Finance, had made and exhibited both photogenic drawings and direct positive paper images exposed in a camera, among them a view of a rural enclave in Paris in the process of being urbanized. These works were produced soon after the first reports of Talbot's process reached France but before the official announcement in August of Daguerre's process. However, political pressure, especially from Arago, who had committed himself to the promotion of the daguerreotype, kept the discover)' from the public. Bayard expressed his indignation at this shabby treatment by the French establishment by creating an image of himself as a suicide victim ; nevertheless, he soon went on to become a prominent member of the photographic community in Paris.

HIPPOLYTE BAYARD. Excavation for rue Tholoze.
Paper negative. Societe Francaise de Photographie, Paris.

Aware of Bayard's discoveries and concerned that this other paper process might achieve precedence on the Continent, Talbot sought to promote the calotype in France. Although he signed a contract for its promotion with Joseph Hugues Maret (known as the Marquis de Bassano), and traveled to Paris in 1843 to demonstrate the procedure, his associates in France turned out to be incompetent and the project a fiasco. Loath to purchase franchises directly from Talbot in England, French artists and photographers preferred to wait until 1847 when Louis Desire Bianquart-Evrard, a photographer in Lille who was to become an influential figure in book publication, announced a modified paper process based on Talbot's discoveries. One of the most ardent champions of paper photography in France was the painter Gustave Le Gray, who in 1851 described a method of waxing the negative before exposure to improve definition and tonal sensitivity. The calotype, employed by Le Gray and other French photographers in an 1851 project to document historic monuments, enjoyed spirited acclaim by French critics before it was made obsolete by the new collodion technology discussed below.

Early in 1839, two Munich scientists, Carl August von Steinheil and Franz von Kobell, had experimented with paper negatives as a result of a report on Talbot's discoveries given at the Bavarian Royal Academy of Sciences, but even though successful results were exhibited in July, on hearing of the wonderful detail possible with the daguerreotype Von Steinheil switched to metal plates. In the United States as in England, the soft forms of the calotype appealed mainly to a small group of intellectual lights (many of whom lived in Boston), but on the whole reaction to paper photography was cool. Following an unproductive business arrangement with Edward Anthony, a prominent figure in the photographic supply business in New York, Talbot sold the patent rights to the Langenheims who, in turn, expected to sell licenses for the process throughout the United States. The calotypes made by the Langenheims were admired in the press, but the firm soon was forced into bankruptcy as the American public continued its allegiance to the daguerreotype.

HIPPOLYTE BAYARD. Self-Portrait as a Drowned Man, 1840. Direct paper positive.
Societe Francaise de Photographie, Paris.

Introduction of the Glass Plate and Collodion

Lack of definition and fading were considered the two most pressing problems in paper photography, especially by portraitists and publishers with commercial interests. To improve sharpness, efforts to replace the grainy paper negative with glass—a support that both Niepce and Herschel had already used—gained ground. The first practicable process, using albumen, or egg white, as a binder for the silver salts, was published in France in 1847, while in the United States Whipple and the Langenheims also had succeeded in making finely detailed glass negatives with these substances, from which they made prints called crystalotypes and hyalotypes, respectively. Glass also provided a suitable material for experimentation undertaken by the Langenheims to produce stereographic images and positive slides for projection. But while albumen on glass resulted in negatives without grain, the procedures were complicated and the exposure time was longer than that required for the daguerreotype.

An effective alternative materialized in 1850 when Frederick Scott Archer, an English engraver turned sculptor, published a method of sensitizing a newly discovered colorless and grainless substance, collodion, to be used on a glass support (see A Short Technical History, Parti). Because exposure time decreased dramatically when the plate was used in a moist state, the process became known as die wet plate or wet collodion method. Today one can scarcely imagine the awkwardness of a procedure that required the user to carry a portable darkroom about in order to sensi-tize each plate before using it and to develop it immediately afterward. Still, the crisp definition and strong contrast afforded by sensitized collodion on glass proved to be just what many in the photographic profession had hoped for in a duplicatable process. Its discovery initiated an era of expanded activity in professional portraiture, in the publication of views, in amateur photographic activity around the globe, and led to numerous collateral photo-graphic enterprises. The introduction of collodion also signaled the end of Talbot's exasperating efforts to litigate his patent rights against those who had taken up calotyping for commerce without purchasing a franchise. The gift of the collodion process to the public by Archer (who was to die impoverished in 1857) was in noticeable contrast to Talbot's attempts to cover all his inventions. When he claimed in 1854 that collodion, too, was protected by his 1843 calotype patent, the outrage expressed in the press made a favorable decision on his pending infringement cases impossible. Talbot gave up his photography patents in 1855, but by then the calotype had faded from sight, in many cases quite literally.

Developments in the Paper Print

Besides the soft definition, the other problem that plagued calotypists involved the quality of the print. Un-even and blotchy tonalities and, of greater concern, the tendency for rich-looking prints to fade and discolor were nightmares, especially for those in commercial enterprises. In addition, satisfactory salt prints—positives produced by exposing sensitized paper in contact with a negative until the image appeared—were thought to look lifeless by a public enticed by superior contrast and clarity. Because the problems were perceived as intrinsic to paper manufacture, an emulsion consisting of albumen and light sensitive silver salts was proposed as a surface coating to keep the image from penetrating into the paper structure itself.

Coming into use at about the same time as the collodion negative, the albumen print rapidly became part of a new photographic technology. Lasting some 30 years, it promoted a style that featured sharp definition, glossy surface, and strong contrasts. In response to this preference, Blanquart-Evrard's Imprimerie Photographique (Photographic Printing Works) at Lille, the first successful photographic printing plant to employ a substantial labor force of men and women, began to process prints for the dozen different publications issued during the n years of its existence. Similar firms soon appeared in Alsace, Ger-many, England, and Italy, as photographically illustrated books and portfolios became popular.

However, despite the optimistic scenario for the future of the albumen print, problems with stability continued to haunt photographers, making large-scale production a de-manding undertaking. At times the unappealing yellow-brown tonality of faded albumen prints was likened to that of stale cheese. Again, sizings were blamed, and it was determined that impurities in the water used in paper man-ufacture also left a residue that caused the discoloration; only two mills in northeastern France were thought capable of producing paper free from such mineral contamination. Stock from these mills was shipped to nearby Dresden to be albumenized, establishing this German city as the main production center for photographic paper throughout the collodion era.

Other causes of fading, among them imperfect washing, inadequate fixing with hypo baths, interaction with mounting adhesives and air pollution, were confirmed by individuals and by committees set up to study the situation by the two most prominent photographic organizations of the era—the Photographic Society of London and the Societe Frangaise de Photographic. A two-part prize offered in 1856 by an eminent French archeologist, Honore d'Albert, Due de Luynes, testified to the fact that the solution would be found in two spheres of activity related to photography. In offering a larger sum for photomechanical procedures and a smaller one for the discovery of a truly permanent method of chemical printing, De Luynes and other French industrialists recognized the importance of mechanical over hand methods for reproducing photographs. Alphonse Louis Poitevin, a noted French chemist who was recipient of both parts of the prize, worked out a photolithographic process called the collotype and a non-silver procedure for printing collodion negatives. Based on researches undertaken in 1839 by the Scottish scientist Mungo Ponton that established the light-sensitivity of potassium bichromate, this process, called carbon printing, used a mixture of bichromated gelatin and powdered carbon instead of silver salts to effect a positive image.

During the 1860s, the results obtained by printing with carbon were greatly admired for their deep, rich tonalities as well as their resistance to fading. The technique was actively promoted in Europe, especially after Joseph Wilson Swan, the holder of numerous British patents in the photochemical field (and the inventor of the incandescent light bulb), simplified manipulation by manufacturing carbon tissues in various grades and tonalities. Called Autotype in England, the Swan carbon process was franchised to the Annan brothers in Scotland, Hanfstaengl in Germany, and Braun in France, rendering these large-scale photographic publishing firms more productive than formerly. However, despite a campaign to promote the carbon method by a leading American publication, The Philadelphia Photographer, no great interest developed in the United States, per-haps because efforts already were underway to find a method of printing photographs on mechanical presses through the creation of a metal matrix. Another process that utilized similar chemical substances—the Woodbury-type, named after its English creator Walter Woodbury— began to supplant carbon production printing in the early 1870s. It, too, produced a richly pigmented permanent image, but because it incorporated elements of mechanical printing technology it was more productive. Despite these improvements in positive printing materials, albumen paper continued in use for portraits and scenic views until the 1880s when significant new developments in both negative and printing materials made it obsolete. The pigmented carbon process was used less frequently in commercial photographic printing after the 1880s; however, it then became a means of individualized artistic expression for pictorialist photographers.

The Stereograph and Stereoscope

One final element in this inaugural period of photography helped assure the medium's incredible popularity. This was the invention of the stereograph and stereoscope —an image and a device that fused photographic technology with entertainment. Stereographs—two almost identical images of the same scene mounted side by side on a stiff support and viewed through a binocular device to create an illusion of depth—held Iate-i9th-century viewers in thrall. Early examples, which had used daguerreotypes to create this effect, were not entirely successful because reflections from the metal surfaces interfered with the illusion; but after collodion/albumen preempted other technologies, stereograph views became more convincing and immensely salable. Produced in large editions by steam-driven machinery and mounted on cards using assembly-line methods, they reached a substantial clientele, especially in the United States, through mail-order and door-to-door sales. Stereograph publishers offered an unparalleled selection of pictorial material; besides the landscapes, views of monuments, and scenes of contemporary events that often were available in regular format photographs also, there were educational images of occupations and work situations around the globe, reproductions of works of art, especially sculpture, and illustrations of popular songs and anecdotes—all of which provided middle-class viewers with unprecedented materials for entertainment.

Holmes-Bates Stereoscope with stereograph. Keystone-Mast Collection,
California Museum of Photography, University of California, Riverside.

Histories of the medium have acknowledged this popular appeal, but the stereograph should be seen as more than a faddish toy. After Queen Victoria had expressed her approval at the Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, where stereographs were on public display for the first time, the purchase, exchange, and viewing of stereographs became a veritable mania. It was promoted in the United States as a significant educational tool by Oliver Wendell Holmes in two long articles in the Atlantic Monthly, in 1859 and 1862. Besides envisioning "a comprehensive and systematic library . . . where all ... can find the special forms they desire to see as artists ... as scholars,... as mechanics or in any other capacity," Holmes suggested that in the future the image would become more important than the object itself and would in fact make the object disposable. He also designed an inexpensive basic viewer to enable ordinary people of little means to enjoy these educational benefits. In the latter part of the 19th century, stereography filled the same role as television does in the 20th, providing entertainment, education, propaganda, spiritual uplift, and aesthetic sustenance. Like television, it was a spectator activity, nourishing passive familiarity rather than informed understanding. Long viewed as a pleasant household pas-time, its effect on attitudes and outlook in the 19th century only recently has become the subject of serious study.

Looking back at the evolution of the medium during the first half of the 19th century, it is obvious that photography's time had come. Industrialization and the spread of education mandated a need for greater amounts of comprehensible pictorial material encompassing a broader of subjects—a necessity to which only the camera image was able to respond. Besides the figures mentioned in this chapter, other all-but-forgotten individuals were attempting to produce images by the means of light. And as soon as the glimmers of success were hinted at in London and Paris, people in outlying areas of Europe and the Americas began to embrace the new technology, hoping to expand its possibilities and, in the process, to make or improve their own fortunes.

Within 25 years of Niepce's first successful image, enough of the major technical difficulties had been worked out to insure that both daguerreotype and photograph could be exploited commercially. This activity, which centered on two areas—portraiture and the publication of scenic views—created a photographic profession with its own organizations and publications. Amateurs employed the medium for documentation and for personal expression, while graphic artists came to rely on photography as an indispensable tool for providing a record of appearances and, eventually, for suggesting different ways of viewing actuality. As will become apparent in the chapters that follow, the traditional divisions separating amateur from professional, art from commerce, document from personal expression were indistinct from the earliest days of the medium, and any boundaries that did exist became even more indefinite as camera images increased their authority and scope.

Nothing in Daguerre's early career as a successful scenic designer hinted that eventually he would become trans-fixed by the problems of producing permanent images by using light. He was born in 1787 into zpetit bourgeois family in Cormeilles-en-Parisis; when his natural artistic gifts became apparent he was apprenticed to a local architect. Paris beckoned in 1804, the year of Napoleon's coronation, so Daguerre served another apprenticeship in the studio of the stage designer Ignace Eugene Marie Degotti. His intuitive sensitivity to decorative effect enabled him to rise quickly, and in 1807 he became an assistant to Pierre Prevost, who was renowned for his realistically painted panoramas. During the nine years that Daguerre worked for Prevost, he occasionally submitted oils to the Paris Salon and made sketches and topographical views for the 20-volume Voyages pittoresques et romantiques en I'ancienne France (Picturesque and Romantic Travels in Old France), a work to which the painters Gericault, Ingres, and Vernet also contributed.

In 1816, Daguerre's exceptional skill and imagination were recognized by his appointment as stage designer to one of the best-known small theaters in Paris; three years later he also was designer for the Opera.. The audience for these entertainments was drawn from the new urban middle class, whose taste ran to verisimilitude in execution and romanticism in content. When, in 1821, Daguerre under-took to promote a new entertainment, The Diorama, he was convinced that the public would pay for illusionistic deception on a grand scale. The Diorama, which opened in July, 1822, with his own deceptively real-looking representation of 'The Valley of the Sarnen" (and one of "The Interior of Trinity Chapel, Canterbury Cathedral," painted by his partner Charles Marie Bouton) achieved its striking effects by the manipulation of light that transformed the scene from a serene day to one of tempestuous storminess, underscoring the desolation of the painted landscape. De-spite a temporary setback during the political troubles of 1830, The Diorama continued to offer romantic subjects until 1839, when it was entirely destroyed by fire.

To achieve the perspective effects on the large scrims, and on the easel paintings that he sometimes painted of the same subjects, Daguerre used the conventional tool of his trade—the camera obscura. At what point he began to consider how to make the view on the translucent glass surface permanent is not known, but in 1824 he started to frequent the shop of the Chevalier brothers, well-known Parisian makers of optical instruments. The result was an association with Niepce, through the Chevaliers, that led first to an agreement to perfect Niepce's process and finally to the daguerreotype.

After the French government had acquired the process, Daguerre occasionally demonstrated its methods and entered into arrangements to supply cameras and manuals of instruction, but he was considerably less active than others in perfecting his discovery. He preferred creating scenic effects on his estate in Bry-sur-Marne and in the local church where he painted a large trompe l'oeil perspective scene behind the altar. Although at Bry he made a small number of daguerreotypes of family and scenery, no further discoveries issued from his workshop nor did he develop artistically between 1839 and his death in 1851.

On the whole, Daguerre's output in the new medium reveals the influence of his artistic training and experience as the creator of picturesque yet convincing-looking scenes. His earliest surviving metal-plate image, an 1837 still life of plaster casts, discloses a subject dear to Romantic artists, one to which he returned on a number of occasions. These works, and views made in Paris and Bry, demonstrate sensitivity to tonal balance, feeling for textural contrast, and a knowledge of compositional devices such as diagonal framing elements to lead the eye into the picture, but from Daguerre's complete output—some three dozen plates according to Helmut and Alison Gernsheim—it is difficult to credit him with exceptional perception regarding the stylistic or thematic possibilities of the new pictorial medium.

Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre. Still Life, 1837.
Daguerreotype. Societe Francaise de Photographic, Paris.


In the 1870s many attempts were made to find a dry substitute for wet collodion so that plates could be prepared in advance and developed long after exposure, which would thereby eliminate the need for a portable darkroom. In 1871 Richard Leach Maddox, an English physician, suggested suspending silver bromide in a gelatin emulsion, an idea that led, in 1878, to the introduction of factory-produced dry plates coated with gelatin containing silver salts. This event marked the beginning of the modern era of photography.

Gelatin plates were about 60 times more sensitive than collodion plates. The increased speed freed the camera from the tripod, and a great variety of small hand-held cameras became available at relatively low cost, allowing photographers to take instantaneous snapshots. Of these, the most popular was the Kodak camera, introduced by George Eastman in 1888. Its simplicity greatly accelerated the growth of amateur photography, especially among women, to whom much of the Kodak advertising was addressed. In place of glass plates, the camera contained a roll of flexible negative material sufficient for taking 100 circular pictures, each roughly 2.5 inches (6 cm) in diameter. After the last negative was exposed, the entire camera was sent to one of the Eastman factories (Rochester, New York, or Harrow, Middlesex, England), where the roll was processed and printed; “You Press the Button, We Do the Rest” was Eastman’s description of the Kodak system. At first Eastman’s so-called “American film” was used in the camera; this film was paper based, and the gelatin layer containing the image was stripped away after development and fixing and transferred to a transparent support. In 1889 this was replaced by film on a transparent plastic base of nitrocellulose that had been invented in 1887 by the Reverend Hannibal Goodwin of Newark, New Jersey.


A few years before the introduction of the dry plate, the world was amazed by the photographs of horses taken by Eadweard Muybridge in California. To take these photographs, Muybridge used a series of 12 to 24 cameras arranged side by side opposite a reflecting screen. The shutters of the cameras were released by the breaking of their attached threads as the horse dashed by. Through this technique, Muybridge secured sets of sequential photographs of successive phases of the walk, the trot, and the gallop. When the pictures were published internationally in the popular and scientific press, they demonstrated that the positions of the animal’s legs differed from those in traditional hand-drawn representations. To prove that his photographs were accurate, Muybridge projected them upon a screen one after the other with a lantern-slide projector he had built for the purpose; the result was the world’s first motion-picture presentation. This memorable event took place at the San Francisco Art Association in 1880.

Muybridge, whose early studies were made with wet plates, continued his motion studies for some 20 years. With the new gelatin plates, he was able to improve his technique greatly, and in 1884–85, at the invitation of the University of Pennsylvania, he produced 781 sequential photographs of many kinds of animals as well as men and women engaged in a wide variety of activities. He was aided in this project by painter Thomas Eakins, who also made motion studies.

Muybridge’s photographic analysis of movement coincided with studies by French physiologist Étienne-Jules Marey to develop chronophotography. Whereas Muybridge had employed a battery of cameras to record detailed, separate images of successive stages of movement, Marey used only one, recording an entire sequence of movement on a single plate. With Marey’s method, the images of various phases of motion sometimes overlapped, but it was easier to see and understand the flow of movement. Marey was also able to record higher speeds at shorter intervals than Muybridge. Both his and Muybridge’s work greatly contributed to the field of motion study and to the development of the motion picture.

Eadweard Muybridge
Eadweard Muybridge, original name Edward James Muggeridge (born April 9, 1830, Kingston upon Thames, Surrey, Eng.—died May 8, 1904, Kingston upon Thames), English photographer important for his pioneering work in photographic studies of motion and in motion-picture projection.

He adopted the name Eadweard Muybridge, believing it to be the original Anglo-Saxon form of his name. He immigrated to the United States as a young man but remained obscure until 1868, when his large photographs of Yosemite Valley, California, made him world famous.

Muybridge’s experiments in photographing motion began in 1872, when the railroad magnate Leland Stanford hired him to prove that during a particular moment in a trotting horse’s gait, all four legs are off the ground simultaneously. His first efforts were unsuccessful because his camera lacked a fast shutter. The project was then interrupted while Muybridge was being tried for the murder of his wife’s lover. Although he was acquitted, he found it expedient to travel for a number of years in Mexico and Central America, making publicity photographs for the Union Pacific Railroad, a company owned by Stanford.

In 1877 he returned to California and resumed his experiments in motion photography, using a battery of from 12 to 24 cameras and a special shutter he developed that gave an exposure of 2/1000 of a second. This arrangement gave satisfactory results and proved Stanford’s contention.

The results of Muybridge’s work were widely published, most often in the form of line drawings taken from his photographs. They were criticized, however, by those who thought that horse’s legs could never assume such unlikely positions. To counter such criticism, Muybridge gave lectures on animal locomotion throughout the United States and Europe. These lectures were illustrated with a zoopraxiscope, a lantern he developed that projected images in rapid succession onto a screen from photographs printed on a rotating glass disc, producing the illusion of moving pictures. The zoopraxiscope display, an important predecessor of the modern cinema, was a sensation at the World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.

Muybridge made his most important photographic studies of motion from 1884 to 1887 under the auspices of the University of Pennsylvania. These consisted of photographs of various activities of human figures, clothed and naked, which were to form a visual compendium of human movements for the use of artists and scientists. Many of these photographs were published in 1887 in the portfolio Animal Locomotion: An Electro-Photographic Investigation of Consecutive Phases of Animal Movements. Muybridge continued to publicize and publish his work until 1900, when he retired to his birthplace.

Eadweard Muybridge.
Photo of Vernal Falls at Yosemite by Eadweard Muybridge, 1872


Photography’s transmutation of nature’s colours into various shades of black and white had been considered a drawback of the process from its inception. To remedy this, many portrait photographers employed artists who hand-tinted daguerreotypes and calotypes. Artists also painted in oils over albumen portraits on canvas. Franz von Lenbach in Munich, for example, was among the many who projected onto canvas an image that had been made light-sensitive, whereupon he painted freely over it. In Japan, where hand-coloured woodcuts had a great tradition and labour was cheap, some firms from the 1870s onward sold photographs of scenic views and daily life that had been delicately hand-tinted. In the 1880s photochromes, colour prints made from hand-coloured photographs, became fashionable, and they remained popular until they were gradually replaced in the first decades of the 20th century by Autochrome plates.

Establishing genres


From the medium’s beginnings, the portrait became one of photography’s most popular genres. Some early practitioners such as Southworth and Hawes and Hill and Adamson broke new ground through the artistry they achieved in their portraits. Outside such mastery, however, portraiture throughout the world generally took on the form of uninspired daguerreotypes, tintypes, cartes-de-visite, and ambrotypes, and most portraitists relied heavily on accessories and retouching. Such conventions were broken by several important subsequent photographers, notably Gaspard-Félix Tournachon, a Parisian writer, editor, and caricaturist who used the pseudonym of Nadar; Étienne Carjat, likewise a Parisian caricaturist; and Julia Margaret Cameron.

Nadar took up photography in 1853 as a means of making studies of the features of prominent Frenchmen for inclusion in a large caricature lithograph, the “Panthéon Nadar.” He posed his sitters against plain backgrounds and bathed them with diffused daylight, which brought out every detail of their faces and dress. He knew most of them, and the powers of observation he had developed as a caricaturist led him to recognize their salient features, which he recorded directly, without the exaggeration that he put in his drawings. When Nadar’s photographs were first exhibited, they won great praise in the Gazette des Beaux Arts, then the leading art magazine in France.

Carjat depicted the prominent Parisian artists, actors, writers, musicians, and politicians of his day. These portraits display dignity and distinction like those of Nadar, his contemporary and rival, but with a sometimes startling level of intensity in the sitters’ gazes.

“Mountain Nymph, Sweet Liberty, The” [Credit: George Eastman House Collection]Cameron took up photography as a pastime in 1864. Using the wet-plate process, she made portraits of such celebrated Victorians of her acquaintance as Sir John F.W. Herschel, George Frederick Watts, Thomas Carlyle, Charles Darwin, and Alfred, Lord Tennyson. For her portraits, a number of which were shown at the Paris International Exhibition of 1867, Cameron used a lens with the extreme focal length of 30 inches (76.2 cm) to obtain large close-ups. This lens required such long exposures that the subjects frequently moved. The lack of optical definition and this accidental blurring was criticized by the photographic establishment, yet the power of her work won her praise among artists. This can be explained only by the intensity of her vision. “When I have had these men before my camera,” she wrote about her portraits of great figures,

my whole soul has endeavoured to do its duty toward them in recording faithfully the greatness of the inner man as well as the features of the outer man. The photograph thus obtained has almost been the embodiment of a prayer.

Besides these memorable portraits, Cameron produced a large number of allegorical studies, as well as images of children and young women in costume, acting out biblical scenes or themes based on the poetry of her hero, Tennyson. In making these pictures—which some today find weak and sentimental—she was influenced by the Pre-Raphaelite painters, who portrayed similar themes in their work.

Nadar, pseudonym of Gaspard-Félix Tournachon (born April 5, 1820, Paris, France—died March 21, 1910, Paris), French writer, caricaturist, and photographer who is remembered primarily for his photographic portraits, which are considered to be among the best done in the 19th century.

As a young man, he studied medicine in Lyon, France, but, when his father’s publishing house went bankrupt in 1838, he was forced to earn his own livelihood. He began to write newspaper articles that he signed “Nadar.” In 1842 he settled in Paris and began to sell caricatures to humour magazines.

By 1853, although he still considered himself primarily a caricaturist, Nadar had become an expert photographer and had opened a portrait studio. His immediate success stemmed partly from his sense of showmanship. He had the entire building that housed his studio painted red and his name printed in gigantic letters across a 50-foot (15-metre) expanse of wall. The building became a local landmark and a favourite meeting place of the intelligentsia of Paris. When in 1874 the painters later known as Impressionists needed a place to hold their first exhibit, Nadar lent them his gallery. He was greatly pleased by the storm the exhibit raised; the notoriety was good for business.

In 1854 he completed his first Panthéon-Nadar, a set of two gigantic lithographs portraying caricatures of prominent Parisians. When he began work on the second Panthéon-Nadar, he made photographic portraits of the persons he intended to caricature. His portraits of the illustrator Gustave Doré (c. 1855) and the poet Charles Baudelaire (1855) are direct and naturally posed, in contrast to the stiff formality of most contemporaneous portraits. Other remarkable character studies are those of the writer Théophile Gautier (c. 1855) and the painter Eugène Delacroix (1855).

Nadar was a tireless innovator. In 1855 he patented the idea of using aerial photographs in mapmaking and surveying. It was not until 1858, however, that he was able to make a successful aerial photograph—the world’s first—from a balloon. This led Daumier to issue a satirical lithograph of Nadar photographing Paris from a balloon. It was titled Nadar Raising Photography to the Height of Art. Nadar remained a passionate aeronaut until he and his wife and other passengers were injured in an accident in Le Géant, a gigantic balloon he had built.

In 1858 he began to photograph by electric light, making a series of photographs of Paris sewers. Later, in 1886, he made the first “photo interview,” a series of 21 photographs of the French scientist Michel-Eugène Chevreul in conversation. Each picture was captioned with Chevreul’s responses to Nadar’s questions, giving a vivid impression of the scientist’s personality. Nadar also wrote novels, essays, satires, and autobiographical works.

Self-portrait circa 1860

Julia Margaret Cameron
Julia Margaret Cameron, original name Julia Margaret Pattle (born June 11, 1815, Calcutta, India—died January 26, 1879, Kalutara, Ceylon [now Sri Lanka]), British photographer who is considered one of the greatest portrait photographers of the 19th century.

“Julia Jackson” [Credit: Harriott A. Fox Endowment, 1968.227/Photography © The Art Institute of Chicago]The daughter of an officer in the East India Company, Julia Margaret Pattle married jurist Charles Hay Cameron in 1838. The couple had six children, and in 1860 the family settled on the Isle of Wight. After receiving a camera as a gift about 1863, she converted a chicken coop into a studio and a coal bin into a darkroom and began making portraits. Among her sitters were her friends the poets Alfred Lord Tennyson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, the astronomer Sir John Herschel, the writer Thomas Carlyle, and the scientist Charles Darwin. Especially noteworthy from this period are her sensitive renderings of female beauty, as in her portraits of the actress Ellen Terry and Julia Jackson; the latter was her niece, who would one day be the mother of the writer Virginia Woolf.

Like many Victorian photographers, Cameron made allegorical and illustrative studio photographs, posing and costuming family members and servants in imitation of the popular Romantic and Pre-Raphaelite paintings of the day. At Tennyson’s request, she illustrated his Idylls of the King (1874–75) with her photographs, which show the influence of the painter George Frederic Watts, her friend and mentor for more than 20 years.

Cameron was often criticized by the photographic establishment of her day for her supposedly poor technique: some of her pictures are out of focus, her plates are sometimes cracked, and her fingerprints are often visible. Later critics appreciated her valuing of spiritual depth over technical perfection and now consider her portraits to be among the finest expressions of the artistic possibilities of the medium.

In 1875 Cameron and her husband returned to their coffee plantation in Ceylon, taking with them a cow, Cameron’s photographic equipment, and two coffins, in case such items should not be available in the East. She continued to photograph and, according to legend, her dying word was “Beautiful!”

Julia Margaret Cameron
Alfred Lord Tennyson, 1869


VIRTUALLY FROM ITS INCEPTION, photography has been involved with portraiture, continuing in a new medium the impulse to represent human form that goes back to the dawn of art. The daguerreotype and negative-positive technologies provided the basis for flourishing commercial enterprises that satisfied the needs for public and private likenesses, while individuals who wished to express them-selves personally through portraiture were able to do so using the calotype and collodion processes. Approaches to camera likenesses, whether made for amateur or commercial purposes, ranged from documentary to artistic, from "materialistic" to "atmospheric," but whatever their under-lying aesthetic mode, photographic portraits reflected from their origin the conviction that an individual's personality, intellect, and character can be revealed through the depiction of facial configuration and expression.

Indeed, from the Renaissance on, portraits have been most esteemed when they portrayed not only the sitter's physical appearance but inner character as well. Toward the end of the 18th century, the concept that pose, gesture, and expression should reveal the inner person became codified in a number of treatises that exhorted the portraitist to rise above merely mechanical graphic representation of the human features. The most significant expression of this idea was contained in the 1789 publication Essays on Physiognomy by Johann Kaspar Lavater, a work that pro-posed that painters develop the "talent of discovering the interior of Man by his exterior—of perceiving by certain natural signs, what does not immediately attract the senses." These ideas still were current when the early promoters of photography were endeavoring to provide quickly made and inexpensive likenesses, and they have continued to inform serious portrait photography on into the 20th century.

Before photography was invented, however, artists already had devised methods to respond to the demand for portraits from a new clientele emerging as a result of the rise of bourgeois societies in England, France, Holland, and America from the 17th century on. Earlier, the painted portrait had been largely the privilege of aristocrats and the very wealthy, but simplifications in terms of what was included in the painting, and transformations in size and naterials enabled merchants and farming gentry in the 18th and early 19th centuries to contemplate having portraits made of themselves and their families. By the mid-i9th century, in addition to the large, officially sanctioned portraits of royalty and public figures that still were being commissioned, the miniature, the silhouette, the physionotrace, the camera lucida drawing, and finally the photo-graph had arrived to accommodate the needs of new patrons for likenesses. Of these, the miniature was most like the traditional large-scale portrait. Although small, it was painted in full color, often on an ivory surface, and required imaginative skill and a delicate touch to evoke the character of the sitter. Regarded as precious keepsakes, miniatures such as the American example shown—a portrait of Eben Farley by Edward Greene Malbone—usually were enclosed in elegant cases or inserted in lockets, the manner in which the daguerreotype portrait would be presented also. The silhouette, on the other hand, might be considered the poor man's miniature, though it was not always small and often it appealed to those who could also afford a painted likeness. Traced from a cast shadow and inked in, or cut freehand from black paper, which then was mounted on a lighter ground, the silhouette showed only the profile, which would seem to leave little room for disclosing expression. Nevertheless, the conviction that profiles were as strong a key to character as other views impelled Lavater to include an illustration of a silhouetting device in his work on physiognomy.

Both miniature and silhouette were unique objects— one-of-a-kind images. For duplicates of the same likeness, whether for personal use or in conjunction with a printed text, different systems were required—among them one made possible by a device called the physionotracc. In-vented in France in 1786 by Gilles Louis Chretien, it consisted of a pointer attached by a series of levers to a pencil, by means of which the operator could trace on paper a profile cast onto glass. A pantograph reduced and transferred the image to a copper plate, which, when engraved and inked, would permit the printing of an edition.4 From Paris, the physionotracc was introduced to other cities in Europe and taken to the United States by a French emigre, Charles Fevret de Saint-Memin, who practiced the technique in the major New World centers between 1793 and 1844. Numerous figures in the arts, sciences, and public life, among them Thomas Jefferson, sat for the four minutes required to make a portrait tracing by physionotracc.

Daguerreotype Portraits

That the photograph might provide a more efficient method than either physionotrace or silhouette to produce faithful likenesses seems obvious today, but when first announced, neither Daguerre's nor Talbot's process was capable of being used to make portraits. In 1839, sittings would have required about 15 minutes of rigid stillness in blazing sunshine owing to the primitive nature of the lenses used and the insufficient sensitivity to light of the chemically treated plates and paper. Because the highly detailed daguerreotype was considered by many the more attractive of the two processes and, in addition, was unrestricted in many localities, individuals in Europe and the United States scrambled to find the improvements that would make commercial daguerreotype portraits possible. They were aided in their purpose by the general efforts in progress to improve the process for all kinds of documentation.

Among the means used to accomplish this goal were the reduction of plate size, the improvement of lenses, the use of mirrors to reverse the plate's laterally inverted image back to normal, the shortening of exposure times by the addition of chemical accelerants in the sensitizing process, and the toning of the plate. Experimentation along these lines took place wherever daguerreotypes were made—in France, the Germanspeaking countries, and the United States—even in England where there was less commercial daguerreotyping activity owing to patent restrictions.

ANTOINE FRANCOIS CLAUDET. The Geography Lesson, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.
Gernsheim Collection, Humanities Research Center, University of Texas, Austin.

The earliest improvements were made to cameras and lenses. Daguerre's cumbersome experimental camera was redesigned, and lighter models, accommodating smaller plates, were manufactured in France by both amateurs and optical-instrument makers, among them Alphonse Giroux, a relative of Daguerre's wife who became the first commercial producer of the daguerreotype camera. These changes made it possible to carry the equipment to the countryside or abroad and even to make likenesses, provided the sitter did not object to holding absolutely still for two minutes. But commercial portraiture could not be contemplated until after chemical procedures were improved and a faster portrait lens, designed by Viennese scientist Josef Max Petzval to admit more than 20 times as much light, was introduced in 1840 by his compatriot Peter Friedrich Voigtlander.

The first efforts to make the silver surface more receptive to light resulted from experiments conducted late in 1840 by English science lecturer John Frederick Goddard. By fuming the plate in other chemicals in addition to mercury vapor, he decreased exposure time considerably; plates sensitized in this manner and used in conjunction with the Petzval lens required exposures of only five to eilght seconds. Alongside these developments, a method of gilding the exposed and developed plate in a solution of gold chloride—the invention of Hippolyte Fizeau in 1840—made the image more visible and less susceptible to destruction, and prepared the daguerreotype for its first paying customers.

D. F. MILLET. Couple and Child, 1854-59. Daguerreotype.
Bibliotheque Nationale, Paris.

With the stage set for the business of making portraits by camera, one might ask where the photographers would be found. As is often true when older professions seem on the verge of being overtaken by new technologies, members drift for hurry) from allied fields into the new one. A large number of miniature and landscape painters, in France especially, realized during the 1840s that their experiences as craftsmen might fit them for making camera portraits (and other documents). French author Charles Baudelaire's contention that the photographic industry had become "the refuge of failed painters with too little talent" may have been too harsh, but it is true that unemployed and poorly paid miniaturists, engravers, and draftsmen turned to portrait photography for the livelihood it seemed to promise. Watchmakers, opticians, tinkers, and other artisans also were intrigued by the new technology and the chance it offered to improve their material well-being.

In England and the United States, portraiture some-times attracted businessmen who hired artists and others to make exposures and process plates. Antoine Francois Claudet, a French emigre residing in London, had been in the sheet glass business before opening a daguerreotype studio. Eminently successful as a portraitist, Claudet also demonstrated a broad interest in photography in general— in technical problems, paper processes, and aesthetic matters. In spite of his belief that the process was so difficult that "failure was the rule and success the exception," the portraits made in his studio are exceptional in their fine craftsmanship and in the taste with which groups of figures were posed, arranged, and lighted.

HERMANN GUNTHER BIOW. Alexander von Humboldt, Berlin, 1847. Daguerreotype.
Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg.

Richard Beard, partner in a coal firm who had bought a patent from Daguerre's agent in 1841 to sell the rights in England, Wales, and the colonies, started his portrait stu-dio with the idea that the new American Wolcott camera, in which he held an interest, would insure the financial prospects of daguerreotype portraiture. In addition to selling licenses to others, Beard eventually owned three establishments in London, with daguerreotypists hired to operate the cameras, as seen in the image of Jabez Hogg making an exposure in Beard's studio (Hogg, however, is believed to have been an associate rather than a paid employee). Since this image may be the earliest representation of the interior of a portrait studio showing a photographer at work, it affords an opportunity to examine the equipment and facilities in use in the opening years of portraiture. A tripod-actually a stand with a rotating plate—supports a simple camera without bellows. It is positioned in front of a backdrop painted in rococo style, against which female figures probably were posed. The stiffly upright sitter—in this case a Mr. Johnson—is clamped into a head-brace, which universally was used to insure steadiness. He clutches the arm of the chair with one hand and makes a fist with the other so that his fingers will not flutter. After being posed, the sitter remains in the same position for longer than just the time it takes to make an exposure, because the operator must first obtain the sensitized plate from the darkroom (or if working alone, prepare it), remove the focusing glass of the camera, and insert the plate into the frame before beginning the exposure. Hogg is shown riming the exposure with a pocket watch by experience while holding the cap he has removed from the lens, but in the course of regular business this operation was ordinarily left to lowly helpers. In all, the posing process was nerve-wracking and lengthy, and if the sitter wished to have more than one portrait made the operator had to repeat the entire procedure, unless two cameras were in use simultaneously—a rare occurrence except in the most fashionable studios. No wonder so many of the sitters in daguerreotype portraits seem inordinately solemn and unbending. Following the exposure, the plate, with no image yet visible, would have been removed from the camera and taken to the darkroom to develop by naming in mercury vapor. By 1842/43, when this image was made, darkroom is believed to have been an associate rather than a paid employee.

Unknown PHOTOGRAPHER. Jabez Hogg Making a Portrait in Richard Beard's Studio, 1843.
Daguerreotype. Collection Bokelberg, Hamburg.

Since this image may be the earliest representation of the interior of a portrait studio showing a photographer at work, it affords an opportunity to examine the equipment and facilities in use in the opening years of portraiture. A tripod—actually a stand with a rotating plate—supports a simple camera without bellows. It is positioned in front of a backdrop painted in rococo style, against which female figures probably were posed. The stiffly upright sitter—in this case a Mr. Johnson7—is clamped into a head-brace, which universally was used to insure steadiness. He clutches the arm of the chair with one hand and makes a fist with the other so that his fingers will not flutter. After being posed, the sitter remains in the same position for longer than just the time it takes to make an exposure, because the operator must first obtain the sensitized plate from the darkroom (or if working alone, prepare it), remove the focusing glass of the camera, and insert the plate into the frame before beginning the exposure. Hogg is shown timing the exposure with a pocket watch by experience while holding the cap he has removed from the lens, but in the course of regular business this operation was ordinarily left to lowly helpers. In all, the posing process was nerve-wracking and lengthy, and if the sitter wished to have more than one portrait made the operator had to repeat the entire procedure, unless two cameras were in use simultaneously—a rare occurrence except in the most fashionable studios. No wonder so many of the sitters in daguerreotype portraits seem inordinately solemn and unbending. Following the exposure, the plate, with no image yet visible, would have been removed from the camera and taken to the darkroom to develop by fuming in mercury vapor. By 1842/43, when this image was made, darkroom operations already were performed under red safelight, an invention Claudct devised to facilitate development. The plate then would have been fixed in hypo and washed in chloride of gold. Because the daguerreotype's principal drawback was thought to be its "ghastly appearance... like a person seen by moonlight, or reflected in water," the portrait would have been hand-colored by a method Beard patented in 1842, but such coloring was practiced almost universally in all the better studios. Although gold toning had made the daguerreotype less susceptible to oxidation, its delicate pigmented surface required protection and was sheathed in a metal mat, covered with glass, and enclosed in a case), lending the final assemblage the appearance of the more expensive painted miniatures. Daguerreotype portraits were made in a variety of sizes, all derived from the standard "whole plate," which measured 61/2 x 81/2 inches. The most common portrait sizes were "quarter plate," 31/4 x 41/4 inches—the size of the Hogg image—and "sixth plate," 23/4 x 31/4 inches.

Daguerreotype case, frame, and matte.
International Museum of Photography at George
Eastman House, Rochester, N.Y.

Unfortunately, the interior shown in the Hogg portrait does not reveal the method of lighting the subject, for illumination was a most important factor in the success of the portrait. Early studios usually were situated on the roofs of buildings where sunlight was unobstructed. On clear days, exposures might be made out-of-doors, al-though not ordinarily in direct sunlight because of the strongly cast shadows, while interior rooms somewhat resembled greenhouses with banks of windows, adjustable shades, and, occasionally, arrangements of blue glass to soften the light and keep the sitter from squinting in the glare.

With the introduction of the Petzval portrait lens and the knowledge of the accelerating action of a combination of chemicals in sensitizing the plate, portrait dagucrrcotyping began to expand throughout Europe. Its popularity in France was immediate. In 1847 some thousand portraits were exhibited in Paris alone, and dagucrrcorypists were active in many provincial cities as well. A hand-tinted daguerreotype of a family group, made in Paris in the 1850s, is typical of the general level and style of commercial portraiture in that it conveys the manner in which the figures were disposed in the space and the handling of lighting directed to focus the eye both on the familial relationship and on material facts.

In the German-speaking cities of Berlin, Hamburg, Dresden, Vienna, and Bern, the volume of daguerreotype portraiture was smaller than that produced in France but seems otherwise comparable in style and craftsmanship. Although artists who took up daguerrcotyping occasionally were denounced as "paintsputterers" who had turned themselves into artistic geniuses with the help of sun¬light,9 they produced skillfully realized and authoritative images, among them Alexander von Humboldt by Hermann Gunther Biow and Mother Albers by Carl Ferdinand Stelzncr, a miniature painter of repute who for a brief period was associated with Biow in a Hamburg daguerreotype studio. Another example, an 1845 portrait of three young girls by Berlin dagucrreotypist Gustav Oehme, displays a feeling for grace and symmetry in the grouping of the figures and an unusual sense of presence in the direct level gaze of the three youngsters. The Dresden photographer Hermann Krone was acclaimed not only for excellent portrait daguerreotypes but for his topographical views, nude studies, and still lifes; like a number of serious daguerreotypists of this era, he was interested in the widest application of the medium and in its potential for both art and documentation.

CARL FERDINAND STELZNER. Mother Albers, The Family Vegetable Woman, 1840s. Daguerreotype.
Museum fur Kunst und Gewerbe, Hamburg; Staatliche Landesbildstelle, Hamburg.

The taking of likenesses by daguerreotype spread more slowly through the rest of Europe during the 1840s and '50s. Investigations have turned up a greater amount of activity than once was thought to exist, but, other than in the larger cities, portrait work in Central Europe was done mainly by itinerants. However, much of that was lost in the nationalistic and revolutionary turmoils of the 19th century. In a number of countries, the daguerreotype and, later, photography on paper and glass came to be considered apt tools for ethnic self-realization. One example entitled A Magyar Fold es Nepei (The Land of Hungary and Its People), published in 1846/47, was illustrated with lithographs based on daguerreotypes thought to have been made by Janos Varsanyi, and included ethnographic portraits as well as the expected images of landscape and monuments.

Farther east, the progress of both daguerreotype and calotype in France and England was monitored in Russia by the Petersburg Academy of Sciences, and in 1840 Aleksei Grevkov, who tried to work with the less costly metals of copper and brass for the sensitized plate, opened the first daguerreotype studio in Moscow. Sergei Levitskii, who started a portrait studio in Petersburg in 1849 following a period of practice in Italy and study in Paris, experimented with the electroplating of daguerreotypes and with calotype procedures before turning to collodion photography; he sought also to combine electric and natural light in order to shorten the lengthy exposure times made necessary by the long Russian winters. In general, however, the profes-sion of portrait photography in all of these localities, whether practiced for commercial or artistic purposes, was not able to expand until about 40 years after its debut, an understandable state of affairs when one realizes that in the 1840s in Belgrade, for instance, a daguerreotype cost as much as a month of daily dinners in the finest restaurant.

GUSTAV OEHME. Three Young Girls, c. 184s.
Daguerreotype. Collection Bokelberg, Hamburg.

Daguerreotype Portraiture in America

Daguerreotype portraiture was made to order for the United States, where it reached a pinnacle of success during the 20 years that followed its introduction into the country. In the conjunction of uncanny detail, artless yet intense expression, and naive pose, Americans recognized a mirror of the national ethos that esteemed unvarnished truth and distrusted elegance and ostentation. The power of "heaven's broad and simple sunshine" to bring out "the secret character with a truth that no painter would ever venture upon," which Nathaniel Hawthorne praised in The House of the Seven Gables, helped propel the silver camera likeness into an instrument through which the nation might recognize its best instincts. Furthermore, the cohesive bodies of work produced to distill this message were the products of commercial studios, a fact that accorded with the native respect for entrepreneurial initiative.

Attempts to make daguerreotype portraits preoccupied Americans from the start. Shortly after instruction manuals arrived from England in September, 1839, Samuel F. B. Morse, his colleague John William Draper, Professor of Chemistry at New York University, Henry Fitz in Boston, and Robert Cornelius in Philadelphia managed to overcome the estimated 10-20 minute exposure time and produce likenesses—some with eyes closed against the glaring sunlight—by reducing the size of the plate and whitening the sitter's face. The exposure time for Draper's well-known 1840 portrait of his sister, Dorothy Catherine (sent by the chemist to John Herschel as a token of esteem for the English scientist's contributions to photography), was 65 seconds, still too long for commercial portraiture, and an image produced around the same time by Henry Fitz, Jr., a telescope maker, showed the face with eyes closed on a plate the size of a large postage stamp.

JOHN WILLIAM DRAPER. Dorothy Catherine Draper, 1840. Original ruined. Collotype from a daguerreotype,
Chemical Museum, Columbia University, New York.

Europeans had to wait until 1841 to sit before the studio daguerreotype camera, but in America the first commercial enterprises were opened in New York City by Alexander S. Wolcott and John Johnson and in Philadelphia by Cornelius in the spring of 1840. Working with Fitz, Wolcott and Johnson patented a camera of their own design (mentioned previously in connection with Beard) and installed an ingenious plate glass mirror arrangement in their studio window that increased illumination on the sitter, softening the glare with a baffle of glass bottles filled with a blue liquid. Although their mirror camera was eventually discarded, improvements in daguerreotype technology in the United States were rapid. The finest lenses and plates continued to be imported, but, during the 1840s optical systems and cameras as well as plates and chemicals also were manufactured locally, resulting in less expensive products and in the setting-up of photographic supply houses, the forerunners of the giant companies of today. Techniques for harnessing the buffing and polishing machinery to steam power and for creating a rational assembly line—the so-called German system—in manufacturing and studio processing procedures soon followed.

The absolute frontality in Draper's portrait of Catherlishmints in 14 cities, is typical of this style. As in the Draper image, the portrait of Mrs. Francis Luqueer, taken in one of the Plumbe studios, fills the space frontally and centrally, with no attempt at artistic pose, dramatic lighting, or grandiloquent props such as the drapery swags and statuary found in European daguerreotype portraits. This style must have appealed to Americans in part because of its similarity to the solemn portraits by native limners, exemplified in the likeness of Mrs. John Vincent Storm by Ammi Phillips, made just a few years earlier. Nor was the sober approach limited to ordinary folk; the same directness and lack of artifice is seen in an 1847 daguerreotype, by an unknown maker, of the future abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. In this work, the absence of artistic pretension is modine, the result of his scientific intent, is nevertheless emblematic of the approach taken by a great many early daguerreotypists in America. The work of John Plumbe, an enterprising businessman out to make a success of selling equipment, supplies, and lessons as well as inexpensive likenesses, who opened a studio in Boston in 1841 and by the mid-'40s was the owner of a chain of portrait establishmints in 14 cities, is typical of this style. As in the Draper image, the portrait of Mrs. Francis Luqueer, taken in one of the Plumbe studios, fills the space frontally and centrally, with no attempt at artistic pose, dramatic lighting, or grandiloquent props such as the drapery swags and statuary found in European daguerreotype portraits. This style must have appealed to Americans in part because of its similarity to the solemn portraits by native limners, exemplified in the likeness of Mrs. John Vincent Storm by Ammi Phillips, made just a few years earlier. Nor was the sober approach limited to ordinary folk; the same directness and lack of artifice is seen in an 1847 daguerreotype, by an unknown maker, of the future abolitionist leader Frederick Douglass. In this work, the absence of artistic pretension is moderated by the sense of powerful psychological projection, by the suggestion of a distinctive presence.

UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER. Frederick Douglass, 1847. Daguerreotype.
Collection William Rubcl; National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC.

The successes of the portrait establishments in New York and Washington started by Mathew Bradyarc now
legendary. After taking lessons in the daguerreotype process from Morse, this former manufacturer of cases for jewelry and daguerreotypes opened his first "Dagucrrcan Miniature Gallery" on lower Broadway in 1844. His stated aim, ""to vindicate true art" by producing better portraits at higher prices than the numerous competitors who were to be found in the same part of the city, was realized in part as a result of the patronage of Tammany Hall politicians and entertainment entrepreneur P. T. Barnum, and in part because Brady seems to have recognized the value of public relations. By sending portraits of celebrities and views of the gallery interior to the newly launched picture journals, Frank Leslie's and Harper's Weekly, for translation into wood-engraved illustrations, he was able to focus attention on his own enterprise and on the role the daguerreotype might play in urban communication despite the fact that it was a one-of-a kind image.

This limitation had prompted the enterprising Plumbe to circumvent the unduplicatable nature of the daguerreo-type by issuing in 1846 a series of engravings entitled The National Plumbeotype Gallery, based on his camera portraits of national figures. Brady followed with his Gallery oflllustriouts Americans. Issued in 1850, it comprised 12 lithographs by Francois D'Avignon based on Brady studio daguerreotypes of famous Americans, among them the artist John James Audubon. In both publications, the implicit assumption that the character of an individual's contribution to public life can be seen in physical features and stance is testament to the continuing vigor of Lavater's ideas about physiognomy.

A. BERGHAUS. M. B. Brady's New Photographic Gallery, Corner of Broadway and Tenth Street,
New York from Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper, Jan. 5, 1861.
Engraving. Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

An even stronger belief in the conjunction of appearance and moral character is evident in the fine daguerreotype portraiture that issued from the Boston studio of Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Hawes. In business for almost 20 years—1843 to 1862—during the ascendancy of transcendentalist thought in that city, the partners approached portraiture with a profound respect for both spirit and fact. Convinced that "nature is not at all to be represented as it is, but as it ought to be and might possibly have been," they sought to capture "the best possible character and finest expression'"3 of which their sitters were capable without departing from the truth. South-worth and Hawes made more than 1,500 likenesses, a great many of which exhibit the exceptional authority apparent in an 1856 image of Charles Sumner. A medallion portrait of an unknown sitter, made with a sliding plateholder patented by Southworth in 1855, is unusually fine. The varied positions of the head, the split dark and light backgrounds, and the arrangement of ovals to suggest a lunar cycle convey the sense that camera images can ensnare time as well as depict physical substances.


Daguerreotype. Bostonian Society, Boston.


Medallion daguerreotype. Museum of Fine Arts, Boston;
gift of Edward Southworth Hawes in Memory of his Father, Josiah Johnson Hawes.

It would be a mistake to think that most American daguerreotype portraiture attained the level of the work produced by Southworth and Hawes or even Brady. Most likenesses were simply records, whether made in fashionable studios or by small-town or itinerant daguerreotypists who charged little enough—from 25 cents to one dollar— to enable a broad sector of the populace to afford a portrait. On occasion, such images are appealing because of unusual pose or piquant expression or because of boldness and singular subject matter, as in a portrait of the Sauk chief Keokuk made by Thomas Easterly, working in Missouri in 1847. On the whole, however, daguerreotype likenesses were remarkably similar to each other in their unrelieved straightforwardness and the solemn, almost frozen demeanor of the sitters. As a writer for Bailou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion of 1855 observed of a daguerreotype display: "If you have seen one of these cases you have seen them all. There is the militia officer in full regimentals . . . there is the family group, frozen into wax statuary attitudes and looking ... as if ... assembled for a funeral... the fast young man, taken with his hat on and a cigar in his mouth; the belle of the locality with a vast quantity of plaited hair and plated jewelry ... the best baby... the intellectual... and the young poet.... There is something interesting in the very worst of these daguerreotypes because there must be something of nature in all of them."

Of course, the unrelieved seriousness of expression in daguerreotype portraiture was in part the result of the lengthy process of arranging the sitter, head in clamp and hand firmly anchored, and then making the exposure, but spontaneity not only was technically difficult to achieve, it also was considered inappropriate to the ceremonial nature of an undertaking that for most sitters required proper deportment and correct attire. Even more joyless were the images of the dead made as keepsakes for bereaved families for whom they possessed "the sublime power to transmit the almost living image of... loved ones." Nevertheless, this "Phantom concourse... mute as a grave,"16 evoked a singular response in the United States. As Richard Rudisill has pointed out in a provocative study, "the daguerreotypists employed their mirror images for the definition and recording of their time and their society.... They confronted Americans with themselves and sought to help them recognize their own significance."

THOMAS EASTERLY. Keokuk, Sauk Chief, 1847. Modern gelatin silver print from a copy
negative of the original daguerreotype in the collection of the Missouri Historical Society.
National Anthropological Archives, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C.

In the rest of the Americas, both north and south, portraiture followed a course similar to that in eastern Europe, with the exception that the first portraits in Canada and Latin America often were made by itinerants from the United States and Europe seeking a lucrative employment. By the 1850s permanent studios had been established in the major cities of Canada and South America, where despite the provincial character of urban life in those regions, both metal and paper portraits were seen as symbols of economic well-being and national self-realization.

Among the itinerant photographers traveling to Canada, mention is made of a female daguerreotypist who spent a month making likenesses in Montreal in 1841. The names of other women crop up in notices and reports on photography's early years to suggest that in spite of the medium's association with chemicals and smelly manipulations, it was not in itself regarded as an unsuitable pastime for women. Anna Atkins, Julia Margaret Cameron, Genevieve Elizabeth Disderi, Lady Clementina Hawarden, Mrs. John Dillwyn Llewelyn, and Constance Talbot in Europe and Mary Ann Meade in the United States are only the best known of the women drawn to photography either in association with other members of the family or on their own. Women also were active behind the scenes in daguerreotype and paper printing establishments where they worked on assembly lines; later they were employed in firms that produced and processed photographic materials, among them those owned by George Eastman and the Lumiere brothers.

UNKNOWN PHOTOGRAPHER (American). Dead Child, c. 1850. Daguerreotype.
Collection Richard Rudisill, Santa Fe, N.M.

Portraits on Paper: The Calotype

Calotype portraiture never achieved the commercial popularity of the daguerreotype. Talbot's first successes in portraying the human face occurred in October, 1840, when he made a number of close-ups of his wife Constance, among them a three-quarter view of exceptional vitality requiring a 30 second exposure. Convinced that paper portraiture was as commercially feasible as the daguerreotype, Talbot entered into an arrangement with a painter of miniatures, Henry Collen, to make calotype likenesses, but the resulting portraits, including one of Queen Victoria and the Princess Royal, often were so indistinct that considerable retouching—at which Collen excelled—was necessary. Since neither Collen nor Talbot's next partner in portraiture, Claudet, were able to convince the public that the duplicatable paper image with its broad chiaroscuro style was preferable to the fine detail of the daguerreotype, commercial paper portraiture in England languished until the era of the glass negative.

The situation was different in Scotland, where, as noted in Chapter I, Talbot's associate Sir David Brewster was instrumental in introducing the calotype to David Octavius Hill and Robert Adamson. In an endeavor to record the 400 or so likenesses to be included in a painting that Hill decided to make in 1843 commemorating the separation of the Church of Scotland from the Church of England, the two became so caught up in photography that they also produced hundreds of commanding portraits of individuals who had no relationship to the religious issues that were the subject of the painting. Aware that the power of the calotype lay in the fact that it looked like the "imperfect work of man ...and not the perfect work of God," Hill and Adamson used the rough texture of the paper negative to create images with broad chiaroscuro effects that were likened by contemporaries to the paintings of Sir Joshua Reynolds and Rembrandt.

HENRY COLLEN. Queen Victoria with Her Daughter, Victoria, Princess Royal, 1844-45.
Calotype. Royal Library', Windsor Castle.
Reproduced by Gracious Permission of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II.

Among the sitters, who posed for one to two minutes cither in an out-of-doors studio in Edinburgh, with a minimum of furnishings arranged to simulate an interior, or on location, were artists, intellectuals, the upper-class gentry of Scotland, and working fisherfolk in the nearby town of Newhaven. Simplicity of pose and dramatic yet untheatrical lighting emphasize the solid strength of the sitter James Linton, a working fisherman. On the other hand, the genteel character of well-bred Victorian women is brought out in the poses, softer lighting, and gracefully intertwined arrangement of the three figures in The Misses Binny and Miss Monro. Such Hill and Adamson images recall the idealized depictions of women in paintings by Daniel McClise and Alfred Chalons, popularized in the publication Book of Beauty, but as photographs they gain an added dimension because the camera reveals a degree of particularity entirely lacking in the paintings.

In artistic and literary circles in Britain and France, these photographs were considered the paradigm of portrait photography in that they made use of traditional artist concepts regarding arrangement and employed arm spheric effects to reveal character. During the 1850s group that included William Collie in the British Isles and Louis Desire Blanquart-Evrard, Charles Hugo, Gustave Le Gray, Charles Negre, and Victor Regnault on the Continent followed a similar path, using themselves, members of their families, and friends to make calotype portraits that emphasize light and tonal masses and suppress fussy detail.

WILLIAM HENRY FOX TALBOT. "C'S Portrait (Constance Talbot), Oct. 10, 1840.
Calotype. Royal Photographic Society, Bath, England.


(Portrait of James Linton), c. 1846. Calotype. Scottish National Portrait Gallery, Edinburgh.


DAVID OCTAVIUS HILL and ROBERT ADAMSON. The Misses Binny and Miss Monro, c. 1845.
Calotype. Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; Harris Brisbane Dick Fund, 1939.