Daguerreian Society

On this day (February 6) in the year 1843, the following article 
appeared in the from the "Australian" (Sydney,[?] Australia):
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Mr. Goodman.--This gentleman has received recently, further "means and 
appliances," so as to render his miniatures more complete.  We copy the 
following from The Illustrated London News, relative to the 
Photographic Portraitures:

"Of all the wonderful discoveries of modern science, there is none more 
miraculous in its nature, and but few that have made so rapid a 
progress, as the system of photographic portraiture, which, "by the 
sacred radiance of the sun," reveals to us, in the space of a few 
seconds, a complete transcript of our outward man.  In the application 
of natural; powers to the arts and sciences, the advancement made 
towards perfection has almost uniformly been gradual, although 
occasionally very rapid strides have succeeded the slow and measured 
tread; and this principle is fully borne out by the examination of the 
progressive appliance of air and fire, of wind and water, to be 
numerous branches of art, manufacture, and commerce.  Light, however, 
the source from whence photography springs, has taken no part in the 
gradual advancement we have described:  although it may be termed the 
primary of created powers, the application of its capabilities has been 
the least understood.  Philosophers, even of the present day, cling to 
hypothesis, and adopt, we will suppose from conviction, the different 
theories of their predecessors as to its origin and efficacy.  The 
invention of Daguerre cannot fail, therefore, to lay open new ideas, 
which may be productive of great advantages to science.  We almost feel 
inclined to trace the first germ of its existence, with the origin of 
painting itself, to the Greek maiden's drawing upon the wall her 
lover's portrait from his shadow; but still we do not hesitate to 
render all due honour to the modern author of the discovery.  In its 
adaptation to portraiture, the original invention has undergone many 
improvements, and none are so conspicuous as those introduced by Mr. 
Beard, which constitute the difference between Daguerreotype and 
Photography.  Portraits taken by the former method are invariably 
reversed, and frequently subjected to distortion; but this never occurs 
in Mr. Beard's process, the chief advantage of which is the application 
of the reflecting camera.  The detail of the proceeding may be 
interesting.  Let us imagine Mr. Beard's atelier, and some one seated 
for his portrait.  The time required is but a few seconds, and is 
occupied as follows:  The sitter's eyes are fixed upon some given 
object; his attitude a perfect study; and mark him if he be a vain man, 
his hair is smartened, and his countenance assumes its sweetest simper.  
The operator having previously prepared a polished silver plate of the 
utmost brilliancy, that the chemical action may be the more efficient, 
exposes it to the vapour of iodine, until it acquires a pale yellow 
tint.  It is now conveyed to the camera, care being taken that not a 
single ray of light gleams upon it in the transit, the door of the 
camera is opened, and the full action of the sun is concentrated upon 
the surface of the plate.  In a less space of time than the words can 
be penned a coup de soleil takes off the sitter's head.  The portrait 
can now be coloured in its natural tints, or tinted by dipping in a 
solution of gold, neither of which processes at all impair the 
brilliancy of the touches.  We, ourselves, prefer the latter method, as 
it destroys the leaden appearances of the ground, and imparts to its a 
softness and a warmth that are alike desirable.  Without disparagement 
to the performance of the miniature painter, we must record our veto 
against his works, when brought as portraits (their chief value) into 
comparison with this flash-of-lightning method of proceeding; they may 
claim admiration for their finished excellence, yet are but rarely 
entitled to it, for the expression of sentiment and grace, which the 
masters only of this art, in their productions, have at times so 
beautifully displayed.  But photographic portraiture represents the 
semblance of its living model--it depicts not merely the exactness of 
feature, so easily attained by hand it preserves the life and animation 
the delicacy of expression;  in fact, so much of the character of the 
individual as is displayed in his features during the period of his 
sitting--"For by his face straightway shall you know his heart." and 
this, so decisive, and without chance of erring is only attained at 
mere random from the hand of the miniature practitioner." 

(With thanks to Sandy Barrie for this text)
Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

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