Musée d'Orsay: French Daguerreotype. A Photographic Object

French Daguerreotype. A Photographic Object

Attributed to Alexis GouinAlexandre Dumas© RMN-Grand Palais (Musée d'Orsay) / Hervé Lewandowski
The purpose of this exhibition is to present an aspect unjustly ignored of the history of photography, the daguerreotype, invented in France during the 1830's by Niépce and Daguerre. The invention of a mechanical process allowing the faithful representation of reality in its slightest detail, producing miraculous pictures, genuine reproductions rather than mere imitations, was to cause many debates and commentaries, from the fear of artists to the enthusiasm of scientists: prevailing as a substitute for reality, Daguerre's invention, though it was a success for only two decades (1840-1860), definitively changed the public's outlook on the world and its representations.

The exhibition will feature some 300 pieces. Besides some 250 daguerreotypes, many documents of the time will be presented, including cameras, newspapers, caricatures, paintings, objects (jewels with daguerreotypes, daguerreotypist accessories), books, letters and manuscripts, in order to document fully the commotion caused by its intrusion. The point is to tackle the subject of daguerreotypes not only in its aesthetic dimension, but also to study it as a genuine "social phenomenon".


Quentin Bajac, curator, Musée d'Orsay, Dominique Planchon- de Font-Réaulx, curator, Musée d'Orsay and Malcolm Danial, curator, Department of Photography, Metropolitan Museum of Art

Exhibition organised by the Réunion des musées nationaux and the musée d'Orsay in collaboration with the Metropolitan Museum, New York
with the exceptional participation of the Bibliothèque nationale de France

With the support in Paris of the Gruppo Euromobil

Exhibition also presented at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, from September 22, 2003 to January 4, 2004


48/14, La revue du musée d'Orsay, issue # 16, Spring 2003
Musée d'Orsay / Réunion des musées nationaux
€ 11

Exhibition catalogue
The Dawn of Photography: French Daguerreotypes, 1839-1855
Metropolitan Museum of Art

13 May - 17 August 2003
Musée d'Orsay

Temporary exhibition galleries

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