The Daguerreian Society

From Ballou's Pictorial Drawing-Room Companion (Boston) Vol. 8, No. 25 (23 June 1855) pg. 387.


    One reason why the daguerreotype portraits are in general so unsatisfactory, may perhaps be traced to a natural law, though I have not heard it suggested. It is this: every object that we be-hold, we see not with the eye only but with the soul; and this is especially true of the human countenance, which in so far as it is the expression of mind we see through the medium of our own individual mind. Thus a portrait is satisfactory in so far as the painter has sympathy with his subject, and delightful to us in proportion as the resemblance reflected through his sympathies is in accordance with our own. Now in the daguerreotype there is no such medium, and the face comes before us without passing through the human mind and brain to our apprehension. This may be the reason why a daguerreotype, however beautiful and accurate, is seldom satisfactory or agreeable, and that while we acknowledge its truth as to fact, it always leaves something for the sympathies to desire.

—Mrs. Jameson.
(Rembrandt Peale's article countering these comments is also available.)

(End of text. Please refer to our textnote regarding this text.)

Return to: Commentary
  Daguerreian texts index

homepage society info search
resources galleries

Copyright 1995-2005, The Daguerreian Society -