Louis Daguerre is known in history as the French painter who laid the foundation of modern photography. His invention represents one of the most beautiful gifts to humanity, for it offers to the human being a way of transgressing the laws of time and eternalizing something that is ephemeral.
This article is a small tribute to this great historical figure.
Louis Daguerre – fragments of bibliography
Louis Daguerre was born on November 18th 1787, a few years before the French Revolution. His artistic talent defined his entire existence and facilitated his social ascension.
Gifted painter, he became an apprentice in panoramic painting to Pierre Prévost. Panoramic paintings were large size creations used as backdrops for theatrical productions. In the spring of 1822, he achieved great success thanks to another invention, namely the diorama, which was made in collaboration with the painter Charles Marie Bouton. A diorama consisted of two paintings ( one by Daguerre and one by Breton ) that created the illusion of reality with the help of an ingenious play of light and shadow.
Daguerre’s meeting with Joseph Nicéphore Niépce (through a mutual friend) typified an important moment in his career. He knew about Niépce’s attempts of taking permanent pictures of nature. Niépce’s technique is known under the name of heliography, but despite its extraordinary character, this photographic process presented many flaws, one of them being the necessity of long sun exposures. In order for a picture to be formed, 8 hours of sun exposure were needed. The most famous photo taken by him is “View from the Window at Le Gras”.
Louis Daguerre and Niépce started working together and conducted many experiments. Everything in order to find a way of defying the immutable laws of time. Unfortunately, in 1933 Niépce died. But Daguerre continued working, and after numerous failed experiments, he discovered a new photographic process: the daguerreotype. This time, long time exposures were no longer needed. A photograph was ready in 20-30 minutes, which was really impressive. In 1939, the invention was presented before the French Academy and introduced world-wide. One of the first photos taken using this technique was “Boulevard du Temple”
Many daguerreotypes were portraits.