The Daguerreian Society

Selected text from “Philadelphia in Slices”, a serialized article by George G. Foster appearing in the New-York Daily Tribune. This particular text appears within "Slice VIII....Chesnut-Street" in Vol. 8, No. 225 (28 December 1848) not paginated.

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    Among the most notable things in Chesnut-street are the multitudinous daguerreotype establishments, with the walls of the entrances and the passage-ways stuccoed with these transfixed reflections of substantial flesh and blood. The daguerreotype art we believe has been brought to as high a state here as in any other place, and the male portraits are generally very authentic and acceptable likenesses of the originals. But with the ladies the case is different. We profess that we have never yet seen a daguerreotype of a lady which gave us any sort of satisfaction. The shadows and the strong points of the face alone seem to stick to the magic plate; while the false focus of the arms and hands always presents those indispensable elements of female grace in an enlarged and awkward shape.—While the exquisite and indescribable softness and grace of the features are invariably lost, the hands and arms as constantly appear as if they had been cooked and had swelled in boiling. If we were a pretty woman they should take our life sooner than our daguerreotype. The delicate and sensitive ivory, blushing into beauty beneath the pencil of the artists, is still the only worthy recipient of the pictured treasures of woman’s loveliness. These daguerreotype saloons are, however constantly crowded by ladies—chiefly from the country—who go away happy, with a miniature of their precious selves safely stowed in their work-bags, and which was painted in a minute and cost a dollar.

The illustration provided here—depicting the galleries of Broadbent & Co., and M. A. Root—is "Panorama of Philadelphia", a three-color lithograph by Collins & Autenrieth, 1856. Collection of Gary W. Ewer.

(End of text. Please refer to our textnote regarding this text.)

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