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January 7, 2022

22 Amazing Daguerreotype Portraits of People Posing With Their Beloved Pets

Such was not the case in the mid-19th century, when the first-ever widely accessible form of photography, known as the daguerreotype process, made its way to the young United States.

Before this time, it was impossible to know someone’s true appearance unless you met them in person. You could not look back on the faces of your children once they reached adulthood, nor those of your late parents once they were laid to rest. Experiences and happenings were preserved only after hours of effort painting, drawing or writing prose, and even then, with striking imperfection. Daguerreotypes gave the American people the ability to preserve, not merely imagine, their collective history.

The daguerreotype, the first photographic process, was invented by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851) and spread rapidly around the world after its presentation to the public in Paris in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each highly polished silvered copper plate is a unique photograph that, when viewed in proper light, exhibits extraordinary detail and three-dimensionality.

Although born in Europe, the daguerreotype was extremely popular in the United States—especially in New York City, where in the late 1850s hundreds of daguerreotypists vied for clients. The most successful artists built lavish portrait studios on the upper floors of buildings on and just off Broadway, and in other major American cities from Boston to San Francisco.


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