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Daguerreotypes: Five Decades of Collecting

National Portrait Gallery, Washington, D.C.

15 Jun 2018 - 2 Jun 2019

The first commercially viable form of photography, daguerreotypes were introduced by French artist Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, but American practitioners recognised the daguerreotype’s potential as a portrait medium. Through technical innovations, they transformed it from an experimental process into a commercially viable one within months of its introduction in August 1839. For nearly 20 years, the daguerreotype flourished in the United States as Americans flocked to studios in communities large and small to pose for their portraits. Today, they form an essential part of Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery’s collection. This exhibition celebrates the museum’s tradition of collecting daguerrotypes with 13 small-scale, one-of-a-kind portraits of early American influencers. Find out more about the ‘Daguerreotypes’ exhibition from the Portrait Gallery’s website.

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Dorothea Lynde Dix (c. 1849), artist unknown. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

P.T. Barnum and General Tom Thumb

P.T. Barnum and General Tom Thumb (c. 1850), Samuel Root. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Seneca Chief Governor Blacksnake

Seneca Chief Governor Blacksnake (c. 1850), F.C. Flint. Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

Gaetano Bedini

Gaetano Bedini (1853), Albert Sands Southworth and Josiah Johnson Hawes Courtesy National Portrait Gallery, Smithsonian Institution

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