The 
Daguerreian Society


On this day (October 8) in the year 1842, the following two items 
appeared in their respective publications:
- - - - - - - - -
In the 8 October 1842 "Chambers's Edinburgh Journal":

       USES OF THE DAGUERREOTYPE.
        [From the "Spectator."]

THE Daguerreotype process, as improved by M. Claudet, can represent 
objects all but in motion; a momentary suspension of movement only is 
necessary to fix the image on the plate, and a transient expression of 
the countenance is rendered permanent.  Several members of the corps de 
ballet at the Italian opera lately stood--or rather danced--for their 
portraits to M. Claudet, in postures that could be retained but for an 
instant, such as poising on one toe with the other leg extended, and 
resting on the points of both feet.  These miniatures may be seen at the 
Adelaide Gallery, and very curious they are; the whole of the figure, and 
even groups of two or three dancers, being delineated on a plate of two 
or three inches high, in which the play of the features and the minutest 
characteristics of the dress are discernible.  M. Claudet's collection of 
likenesses includes the queen-dowager and other distinguished personages; 
but the most interesting of the series to us were those of Mademoiselle 
Rachel, in ordinary costume, and with her habitual look when in a 
thoughtful state of quietude.  Mind and character are so vividly and 
delicately portrayed, that we could not but wish that the great tragic 
actress had sat in some of those different states of emotion which her 
eloquent countenance can express at will with so much intensity.  If 
there is one thing more than another that the magic power of the 
Daguerreotype is valuable for, it is this of limning the fleeting shades 
of expression in the human face: for here the art of the painter, however 
great his skill, is most at fault; and it is only in his happiest moments 
that the artist of genius can transfer to the canvas the indications of 
lively sensation, strong passion, and profound thought, or even of 
individual character in a quiescent state. Could Garrick have looked all 
his characters before the lens of the Daguerreotype, generations would 
have beheld again and again what was given to his contemporaries to see 
once and away.  Charles Mathews, who dipped for faces behind his green 
table, and brought up a fresh one every time, would have had nothing to 
doubt to present his various physiognomies successively before the 
Daguerreotype camera to have them reflected in that retinent mirror.  We 
instance actors in particular, Rachel have put us on the histrionic 
track; and also because, their art consisting in assuming at will certain 
characters and feelings, the Daguerreotype is peculiarly well adapted to 
take their portraits in a state of emotion:  orators and others could 
only be so taken unawares, which would be scarcely practicable except in 
rare instances.
  But some readers, having a prejudice against the Daguerreotype 
miniatures, may be ready to protest against their incorrectness as well 
as their grimness;  and this brings us to the point which we are aiming 
to enforce, namely, the necessity for viewing the photographs through a 
medium of high magnifying power, not only to correct the slight 
aberration caused by the diminishing lens of the camera, but to amplify 
their shadows so as to lessen their density and remove the harshness and 
blackness consequent theron.  The image is too minute for any but a 
microscopic scrutiny to develop all its minutiae of form;  and, looking 
at the plate with the naked eye, one does not perceive the object truly 
and completely, even in point of form.  A compensating lens, through 
which the visitors might view the photographic limnings, and artists 
might copy them when required, would be a desirable addition to the new 
arrangements that M. Claudet is now making at the Adelaide Gallery for 
facilitating his operations and promoting the convenience of visitors.
  The value of the Daguerreotype as an aid to artists both in landscape 
and portraiture, is not yet fully appreciated; not is the practice of 
producing prints from photographs so general as it is likely to become.  
We allude not to the experiments of taking impression from the plates 
themselves (which the specimens that have been shown, though very 
imperfect, prove to be not altogether impossible), but to copies from 
them.  A work has been commenced in Paris, called "Excursions 
Daguerriennes," containing views of the principal cities and remarkable 
places in the world, some numbers of which we have seen in London.  The 
engravings are very neat and accurate notwithstanding the absence of very 
minute detail, and the inferiority of the execution to the marvellous 
delicacy of nature's image, they are beautiful as works of art, and of 
course exact representations of the places.


* * * * * * * *
And this brief notice in the 8 August 1842 "Cardiff and Merthyr Guardian" 
(Cardiff, Wales):

  Mr. Bosanquet, the celebrated profilist, is now visiting our town.  
Having seen many of his likenesses, we can confidently pronounce them 
first-rate.  Mr. B. possesses the happy knack of catching the expression 
in which so many fail.  The Daguerreotype itself is scarcely more 
faithful than his portraitures, whilst the effect of the latter is much 
more pleasing.  We recommend all our friends to pay Mr. Bosanquet a 
visit.

(With thanks to Stephen Rowson for both of today's items.)
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Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     
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10-08-97


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