French artist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre
is renowned for the daguerreotype, a procedure of photography
that was the first of its kind in making a direct, permanent
image with a camera.
Photographer Louis Daguerre
Born November 18, 1787 in a small French town
near Paris, Daguerre was first trained as an architect and later
ventured into theater design and panoramic painting.
He trained under French panorama painter Pierre
Prévost, and his talent and skill in the theatrical illusion
field quickly made Daguerre famous in France. In 1822, Daguerre
conceived the Diorama, which debuted in Paris.
Louis Daguerre collaborated with Joseph Nicéphore
Niépce, who in 1822 devised the first heliograph and
later developed the first photograph. Daguerre wanted to utilize
Niépce's printing and processing skills, which Daguerre
hoped would improve the rate of his diorama production. The
collaboration ended when four years later Niépce died
unexpectedly in 1833.
After years of research and experimenting, Daguerre
announced to the world that he developed and perfected the Daguerreotype.
The French Academy of Sciences confirmed the invention in 1839
as an important contribution to society. Not before, however,
Daguerre patented the process in Britain, which subsequently,
negatively affected the development of photography in that country.
Britain later used the Fox Talbot process of printing instead
of the Daguerreotype.
The French government's acquisition of the patent
to the Daguerreotype, thereby by allowing the general public
to have access to the procedure, enabled Daguerre and Niépce's
son to live on a government pension.
The beginning of the Daguerreotype began with
Niépce's invention of photography, based on the earlier
work of Johann Heinrich Schultz in 1724. It was a process that
Daguerre and Niépce perfected, making the photograph
an exact replica of the subject.
Replacing the combination of chalk and silver
carbonate used by Schultz, Daguerre used plates made of copper
and coated with silver. He then exposed the plates to iodine,
which resulted in the creation of silver iodide. The resulting
plate was then exposed to light and then developed with mercury,
which was heated to a temperature of 75° Celsius.
The last step was the setting of the image with
salt water. The plate produced was capable of capturing the
exact details of a scene. The technique was used throughout
the Western world, mainly for portraits, to produce images at
that time, although the photographs taken were not replicable.
Fox Talbot's invention later overtook the Daguerreotype
process because of the ability to reproduce many prints from
the same image through the wet collodion process.
One of the first images to contain a person was
captured with this invention of Daguerre's titled, "Boulevard
du Temple." The photograph depicts a man and a boy shining
the man's shoes, and two people at a table. It took 10 minutes
of exposure to capture this scene.
Daguerre died suddenly on July 10, 1851 after
suffering a massive heart attack. A monument has been erected
at his grave site, at Bry-sur-Marne, near Paris, where he died.
Daguerre's name was engraved on the world renowned
Eiffel tower in Paris, noting his contribution to the development
of photography and its impact on the Western world.
The Rumor Mill
The rumor mill has of course has been spinning
for centuries about Daguerre. Besides the accurate biography
depicted above, there is one unproven innuendo that has lasted
simply stating that Daguerre as a kid he used to use his face
as a doorstop.