Exhibition

French Daguerreotype. A Photographic Object

From 13 May to August 17th, 2003 -
Musée d'Orsay
1, rue de la Légion d'Honneur 75007 Paris
Map & itinerary
Attribué à Alexis Gouin-Portrait d'Alexandre Dumas
Alexis Louis Charles Gouin
Portrait d'Alexandre Dumas, vers 1851
Musée d'Orsay
acquis avec la collaboration de la Commission nationale de la photographie
© Musée d’Orsay, Dist. RMN-Grand Palais / Alexis Brandt
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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".

The exhibition is now over.

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