The Daguerreotype: A Sesquicentennial Celebration

John Wood, Editor University of Iowa Press $64.95 (141p) ISBN 978-0-87745-224-9
The daguerreotype--a photograph produced on a silver plate--was invented in 1839 by Louis Jacques Mande Daguerre and thrived for only two decades before the method was supplanted by paper-based photography. This volume of nine scholarly essays, illustrated with over 100 previously unpublished daguerreotypes (34 in color), is essentially an appreciation, and while a general reader might savor the beauty of the images, the text is specialized, assuming a knowledge of both photographic theory and history. A professor at McNeese State University in Iowa, Wood bemoans the daguerreotype's fate as a mere precursor to photography and argues for its status as serious art. Other essayists take up topics such as the contributions to the daguerreotype of American photographers Josiah Johnson Hawes and Albert Sands Southworth and the initial ambivalence of Americans (an early writer called the daguerreotype ``really quite frightful . . . now every thing and every body may have to encounter his double every where'' sic). The striking pictures included here range from anonymous efforts (``Portrait of Uncle George and Gus'') to work by Matthew Brady, and in intention from documentary to artistic. (June)
Reviewed on: 06/01/1989
Release date: 06/01/1989
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