Lee Gallery Home

Established 1981



Daguerreotype Photography

The daguerreotype is an early type of photograph, developed by Louis Daguerre, in which the image is exposed directly onto a mirror-polished surface of silver bearing a coating of silver halide particles deposited by iodine vapor. In later developments bromine and chlorine vapors were also used, resulting in shorter exposure times. The daguerreotype is a negative image, but the mirrored surface of the metal plate reflects the image and makes it appear positive in the proper light. Thus, daguerreotype is a direct photographic process without the capacity for duplication.

While the daguerreotype was not the first photographic process to be invented, earlier processes required hours for successful exposure, which made daguerreotype the first commercially viable photographic process and the first to permanently record and fix an image with exposure time compatible with portrait photography.

The daguerreotype is named after one of its inventors, French artist and chemist Louis J.M. Daguerre, who announced its perfection in 1839 after years of research and collaboration with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce, applying and extending a discovery by Johann Heinrich Schultz (1724): a silver and chalk mixture darkens when exposed to light. The French Academy of Sciences announced the daguerreotype process on January 9 of that year.

Daguerre's French patent was acquired by the French government. In Britain, Miles Berry, acting on Daguerre's behalf, obtained a patent for the daguerreotype process on August 14, 1839. Almost simultaneously, on August 19, 1839, the French government announced the invention a gift "Free to the World".


  • Anne Anninger and Julie Mellby, Salts of Silver, Toned with Gold. The Harrison D. Horblit Collection of Early Photography, Boston, MA: The Houghton Library Harvard University, 1999.
  • Quentin Bajac, Dominique Planchon-de Font-Reaulx, Malcolm Daniel, Le DJoan Severa, Dressed for the Photographer: Ordinary Americans & Fashion, 1840-1900, Kent, OH: Kent State University Press, 1995.
  • Melissa Banta, A Curious and Ingenious Art: Reflections on Daguerreotypes at Harvard, Boston, MA: Harvard University Press & University of Iowa Press, 2000
  • Piero Bechetti - Carlo Pietrangeli, Roma in Dagherrotipa, Rome: Edizioni Quazar, 1979.
  • Janet E. Buerger, French Daguerreotypes, Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 1989.
  • Paolo Costantini, Ruskin: I Dagherrotipi della Collezione, Florence, Italy: Alinari/Arsenale, 1986.
  • John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry: Volume 1, The Overview, Torrington, CT: John S. Craig, 1994.
  • John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry: Volume 2, Pioneers and Progress--Abbott to Lytle, Torrington, CT: John S. Craig, 1996.
  • John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry: Volume 3, Pioneers and Progress--MacDonald to Zuky, Torrington, CT: John S. Craig, 1996.
  • John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry Revised Edition volume 1, Torrington, CT: John S. Craig, 2003.
  • John S. Craig, Craig's Daguerreian Registry Revised Edition Volume 2, Torrington, CT: John S. Craig, 2003.
  • Keith Davis, Jane Aspinwall, Marc Wilson, The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art , The Origins of American Photography From Daguerreotype to Dry-Plate, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1839-1885.
  • Helmut Gernsheim, The Rise of Photography, 1850-1880, New York: Thames and Hudson, 1981.
  • Helmut Gernsheim, The Origins of Photography, New York: Thames and Hudson, Inc., 1982.
  • Francoise Heilbrun, Bernard Marbot, Phillipe Neagu, L invention d un regard (1839-1918), Paris: Reunion des musees nationaux, 1989.
  • Drew Heath Johnson, Marcia Eymann, Silver and Gold: Cased Images of the California Gold Rush, Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1998.
  • Ross J. Kelbaugh, Introduction to African American Photographs 1840-1950: Identification, Research, Care, and Collecting, Gettysburgh, PA: Thomas Publications, 2005.
  • Delores Kilgo, Likeness and Landscape: Thomas M. Easterly and the Art of the Daguerreo type, Columbia, MO: Missouri Historical Society Press, 1994.
  • Dorothy Meserve Kunhardt, Philip B. Kunhardt Jr., Mathew Brady and His World, Des Moines, Iowa: Time Life Books, Inc., 1977.
  • Bates Lowry, Isabel Barrett Lowry, The Silver Canvas: Daguerreotype Masterpieces from the J. Paul Getty Museum, Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museum, 1998.
  • Claire L. Lyons, Johnk Papadopoulos, Lindsey S. Stewart, Andrew Szegedy-Maszak, Antiquity and Photography: Early views of Ancient Mediterranean Sites, Los Angeles, CA: J. Paul Getty Museuem, 2005.
  • Mary Gardner Neill, American Daguerreotypes from the Matthew R. Isenburg Collection, New Have, CT: Yale University Art Gallery, 1990.
  • Beaumont Newhall, The Daguerreotype in America, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1961.
  • Rene Perret, Martin Gasser, Kunst und Magie der Daguerreotype, Brugg, Germany: BEA + Poly-Verlags, 2006.
  • Christian A. Peterson, Chaining the Sun: Portraits by Jeremiah Gurney, Minneapolis, MN: Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 1999.
  • Harold Francis Pfister, Facing the Light: Historic American Portrait Daguerreotypes, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1978.
  • Sally Pierce, Sloane Stevens, The Daguerreotype in Boston: Process, Practitioners, and Patrons, Boston, MA: The Boston Athenaeum, 1994.
  • Peter Quennell, Victorian Panorama: A Survey of Life and Fashion from Contemporary Photographs, London: B.T. Batsford Ltd., 1937.
  • Floyd and Marion Rinhart, American Daguerreian Art, New York: Clarkson N. Potter, Inc., 1967.
  • Floyd Rinhart, Marion Rinhart, The American Daguerreotype, Athens, GA: The University of Georgia Press, 1981.
  • Paul-Louis Roubert, L image sans qualites: Les beaux-arts et la critiqe a l epreuve de la photographie, 1839 - 1859, Paris: Monum, Editions du patrimoine, 2006.
  • Grant Romer, Brian Wallis, Young America: The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, New York, NY: Steidle/ICP, 2005.
  • Richard Rudisill, Mirror Image: The Influence of the Daguerreotype on American Society, Albuquerque, NM: University of New Mexico Press, 1971.
  • Martha A. Sandweiss, Essays by Alan Trachtenberg, Barbara McCandless, Keith F. Davis, Peter Bacon Hales, Sarah Greenough, Photography in Nineteenth-Century America, New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc., 1991.
  • The Smithsonian National Gallery, A Durable Memento : Portraits by Augustus Washington African American Daguerreotypist, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonain National Portrait Gallery, 2000.
  • Robert A. Sobieszek, Odette M. Appel, The Daguerreotypes of Southworth & Hawes, Mineola, NY: Dover Publications, Inc., 1976.
  • William F. Stapp, Robert Cornelius: Portraits from the Dawn of Photography, Washington, D.C.: Smithsonian Institute Press, 1983.
  • John Wood, The Daguerreotype: A Sesquicentennial Celebration, Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1989.
  • John Wood, America and the Daguerreotype, Iowa CIty, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1991.
  • John Wood, John R. Stilgoe, The Scenic Daguerreotype: Romanticism and Early Photography, Iowa City, IA: University of Iowa Press, 1995.


Member of The Association of International Photography Art Dealers (AIPAD)