Daguerreian Society

On this day (April 6) in the year 1839, the following article appeared in "The 
Albion, or British, Colonial, and Foreign Weekly Gazette." (New-York) Vol. 1, 
No. 14 (6 April 1839) pg. 109:
- - - - - - - - - -.

              THE DAGUERROTYPE.

  M. Daguerre is a man of talent, for he is an excellent artist; he is a man of 
genius, he invented the Diorama; but he is an ambitious man, he created the 
Daguerrotype; and his name and his fame will be European, and will be handed 
down to posterity as belonging to a man of transcendent genius, who by 
unexampled industry, power of analyzation, and of synthetical combination, has 
created a new art.  It is not a discovery, it is a brilliant creation!
   What then is the Daguerrotype?  We will explain.  You paint a picture, there 
is a mass of colour on the canvass, as if it had been laid on by a Martin!  it 
is a brilliant colour; it is seen by daylight.  You throw the light produced by 
the admixture of hydrogen and oxygen gas upon it.  The picture vanishes; the 
canvass is as it were bleached.  You paint another picture; it is composed of 
various colours; the colours are of equal depth; you manage to distribute the 
light thrown upon it in various intensities.  The picture is perfect; all the 
lighter tints appear as if you had painted it with ten thousand shades of 
colour.  Is this the Daguerrotype?  No!  You take a metal plate, with a block 
substance; you apply a prism, so that any object will be cast upon it; you take 
the prism away; the object remains as if had been engraved by the most delicate 
burin.  This is the Daguerrotype.  What is the substance spread upon the plate?  
It is a secret known only to M. Daguerre.
   Such is this wonderful creation.  The light of the sun or moon becomes an 
engraver, which makes no mistakes; every line is in undeniable proportion, a 
microscope of the highest power can discover no error; you see your face 
reflected in a glass, you retire, the reflection vanishes; your face is 
reflected on a blackened plate, the reflection remains.  This is the 
Daguerrotype.  The fleecy cloud, riding high in the heavens, in all its 
fantastic forms, "ever changing, ever new," becomes indelibly engraved by the 
Daguerrotype.  A butterfly flutters from flower to flower, you cannot catch it; 
had it the swiftness of light itself the Daguerreotype has a more rapid flight; 
its pencil draws with unerring fidelity every hue, every flutter of its wings.  
You want a sketch--an index to your imagination; the Daguerrotype gives you it.  
You want every line, every dot, every shade, you cannot trust to your own fancy; 
the Daguerrotype perfects the work!
   M. Daguerre is no monopolist, he will make known his secret; he wants means 
to carry on his chemical researches--they must be afforded him.  Mechanics have 
done much for art.  We can copy statues and medallions; we can represent solid 
bodies on superficial planes, by wheels and levers, instead of the human hand.  
Chemistry has done more.  A black pigment will do all these things perfectly in 
a moment, which expensive machinery can only accomplish in time, and 
   Honour then to M. Daguerre!  He is to the Fine Arts what Bacon was to 
Science.  The Daguerrotype is the novum organum of Art.

(This article strikes me as a fairly literal translation from the French, 
although a [supposed] original source is unknown to me at this time.  As usual, 
all original errors of grammar/spelling maintained.
 --Gary E.)
Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1998

galleries society info what's new feedback
resources homepage search

Copyright 1995-2005, The Daguerreian Society -