Sunday, September 16, 2012

An art form is born

Still life
Still life presents and obvious advantage for a young medium requiring long times of exposure: the subjects would certainly not be moving and ruining the negative.

Louis Jules Duboscq-Soleil, Still Life with Skull, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype. Symbols of the divine and the human, of the course of time and the inevitability of death. [Source: George Eastman House]

Louis Jacques Mandé Daguerre, Sill Life, ca. 1850. [Source: Wikipedia]

Cromer's Amateur, Still Life, bouquet of flowers, ca. 1845. Daguerreotype. [Source: George Eastman House]

The world around us
For the first time in history, reality could be reproduced in all fidelity. In cities, all buildings became easily recognizable, giving the viewer an accurate depiction of distances and sizes. Accuracy, together with the low price of reproducing photography, meant that people from all corners of the world could now learn to recognize places in which they had never been, and very well would never be.

Friedrich Martens, La Seine, la rive gauche et l'île de la cité, ca. 1845. Daguerreotype. Martens needed to use a panoramic camera of his own invention to create this broad view of Paris. [Source: GEH]

Louis Daguerre, Boulevard du Temple, ca. 1838. Daguerrotype. Daguerre was the inventor of the new medium, which at the beginning could only reproduce things that stood mostly still for minutes at a time. This view is one of the very first examples of daguerreotype. It shows a busy street in Paris, but no moving traffic because of the over ten-minute exposure time it cannot appear. At the lower left, however, a man is apparently having his boots polished, and we can see at his feet the bootblack polishing them. They were motionless enough for their images to be captured. [Source: Wikipedia]
Portraiture immediately became the most popular use of daguerreotypes:

Jean Baptiste Sabatier-Blot, Portrait of a Young Girl (Sabatier-Blot's Daughter?), 1852. Daguerreotype. The portrait is exquisite, intimate, the girl's face relaxed, serene, but focused on the camera.  [Source: George Eastman House]

Jean Baptiste Sabatier-Blot, Portrait of Woman and Daughter, 1852. Daguerreotype.
The standing girl leans of her mother's side, the family resemblance and the connection between the subjects immediate. No other objects distract the viewer. [Source: George Eastman House]

Antoine Claudet, The Geography Lesson,  1851. Daguerreotype. This group portrait, technically hard to achieve - a handful of sitters all immobile at the same time, most of them young children, at this early stage of photography - is nonetheless a fine triangular composition in which the subjects relate to each other rather than looking at the camera. The Geography Lesson was presented at the Great Exhibition of 1851 in London. Claudet numbered many of England’s most prominent citizens among their customers, including Queen Victoria, Charles Dickens and Queen Adelaide, as well as thousands of other, lesser known, men and women. His work, including this one, as also frequently translated into wood and steel. [Source: Google Books]

Unidentified photographer, The Butterfly Collector, ca. 1850. Daguerreotype. The gentleman poses holding a quill and an illustrated book of butterflies to help him catalogue his collection, figuring at the back. An early example of the use of photography for record keeping. [Source: George Eastman House]

Unidentified photographer, Odalisque, ca. 1840. Daguerreotype. Exploration of the female form for artistic purposes? There is nothing salacious in the image, although the centrality of the naked female form in Western art itself could certainly be discussed using this early example of female nude. [Source: George Eastman House]

George Eastman House "1000 Photo Icons", p 40-2, 56. Taschen 2002
The Daguerreian Society Newsletter vol. 20 2008

No comments:

Post a Comment