Louis Daguerre

French, 1787–1851

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Louis Daguerre

French, 1787–1851

Biography

French Romantic painter and physicist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre revolutionized photography by inventing the first photographic process, known as the daguerreotype, presented to the public in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each daguerreotype was a highly polished, silvered copper plate containing a unique image that, when viewed in proper light, conveyed an image in extraordinary detail, almost to three-dimensional effect. Although Nicéphore Niépce is credited with producing the first permanent photograph (a heliograph) in 1826/27, Daguerre’s new method vastly improved upon the heliograph’s poor image quality and reduced the eight-hour exposure time to 30 minutes. His earliest plates were still lifes of plaster casts of antique sculpture, as in L’Atelier de l’artiste (1837) and his views of Paris and arrangements of shells and fossils. Although fewer than 25 of his works survive, Daguerre’s invention radically altered the course of both scientific observation and visual representation in art.

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Biography

French Romantic painter and physicist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre revolutionized photography by inventing the first photographic process, known as the daguerreotype, presented to the public in 1839. Exposed in a camera obscura and developed in mercury vapors, each daguerreotype was a highly polished, silvered copper plate containing a unique image that, when viewed in proper light, conveyed an image in extraordinary detail, almost to three-dimensional effect. Although Nicéphore Niépce is credited with producing the first permanent photograph (a heliograph) in 1826/27, Daguerre’s new method vastly improved upon the heliograph’s poor image quality and reduced the eight-hour exposure time to 30 minutes. His earliest plates were still lifes of plaster casts of antique sculpture, as in L’Atelier de l’artiste (1837) and his views of Paris and arrangements of shells and fossils. Although fewer than 25 of his works survive, Daguerre’s invention radically altered the course of both scientific observation and visual representation in art.

Career Highlights
Learn more about artist insights.
Group
Group show at a major institution
Palais de Tokyo