Louis Daguerre was a scene painter who, in 1829, went into partnership with the inventor of photography, the Frenchman Joseph Nicephore Niepce, who in 1827 had produced the first true fixed-image photograph. Daguerre’s method was to cover a copper plate with a thin coating made light-sensitive by the use of iodine of silver. The problem with the Daguerreotype (or ‘Daguerrotype’ as it is sometimes called) is that its highly silvered surface made it difficult to view in all lighting conditions and at all angles. It is almost like looking into a mirror onto which a picture has been superimposed. The process lasted from its popularity in the 1840s until it went out of fashion in the 1850s. The slightly-tinted photograph above dates from the latter period.
In the next issue of ‘Chronicles’ we will be publishing an article on how to date Victorian photographs – so please try to obtain a copy (out in September) if the subject interests you.