Daguerreian Society

During the month of January in the year 1843, the following article 
appeared in "The Artist; a Monthly Lady's Book." (New York) page 235.  
No volume or issue number is given, but this is apparently the only 
volume published before this monthly publication was absorbed by 
"Lady's World" (later "Peterson Magazine.")
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   THE Daguerreotype process 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.  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.  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 Matthews, who dipped for 
faces behind his green table, need only to have presented his various 
physiognomies before the Daguerreotype camera, to have them reflected 
in that retinent mirror.  We instance actors in particular, because 
their art consisting in assuming at will characters and feelings, the 
Daguerreotype is peculiarly well adapted to take their portraits in a 
state of emotion.
   The value of the Daguerreotype as an aid to artists both in 
landscape and portraiture is not yet fully appreciated;  nor is the 
practice of producing prints from photographs so general as it is 
likely to become.  We have lately seen two Daguerreotype views taken by 
Messrs. Franquenet & Weston, of No 12 Park Place, the one of the Astor-
House, the other of the City Hall--they are beautifully executed, and 
are the most exact representations of Public buildings that can be 
imagined.  To appreciate them duly, these photographs should be viewed 
through a medium of high magnifying power.  We have also seen some 
Daguerreotype portraits by Franquenet & Weston, which, for finish, and 
artistical disposition, are superior to any which have come before us.  
Being themselves artists, these gentlemen perfectly understand the 
position most favorable to the party sitting for a portrait.  Most 
persons under such circumstances, sit in a stiff and constrained 
posture, pursing up their mouths, and looking very gravely.  But Mr. 
Franquenet alters all this, he places them in an easy and natural 
attitude.  We have seen several most graceful and lovely portraits of 
ladies, taken by his Daguerreotype.  The whole process does not occupy 
more than two minutes, so that any person can easily maintain the same 
expression of countenance, during the whole time of sitting.  We would 
hint to the ladies, that figured silk, or stamped velvet dresses, give 
most effect to these pictures;  every minutiae of their patterns coming 
out with miraculous exactness.

Posted for your enjoyment.     Gary W. Ewer     

Return to: DagNews 1999

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