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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